Scenic Cruise, Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Skiing and mountain literature, photos, and innovative media

Scenic Cruise, Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Postby skykilo » Mon May 30, 2011 11:05 am

If I remember correctly, the first time I met Mike Layton it was March of 2006; he was giving a presentation at the Mountaineers in Seattle about some first ascents he'd made in the Cascades and it featured some hilarious animations of sheep with blood gushing from their asses. It was a memorable evening with an impromptu after-party at the condo of my girlfriend at the time, who was away in Patagonia. The next day I was quite hungover from lots of Patron and too many strong beers but Ross and I persevered and skied the Northwest Face of Mount Formidable in a push. But I digress.

Fast forward five years and we've both escaped the oppressive gray weather. Black Canyon is almost equidistant between him in Salt Lake City and me in Los Alamos. He suggested Scenic Cruise and I could only respond like the Team America theme song.

After a late arrival, a bit of swilling and a very late start, here's Mike on the first pitch.
Image
It starts with a good bit of runout mid-5th. If you can't wrap your head around that, it probably isn't the route for you anyway.

I led the second pitch and began my mental acclimation when some massive stacked flakes made me contemplate my death for a minute. In the end, they were very solid. Mike kindly let me lead the next pitch too, the first pitch where Scenic Cruise splits from The Cruise, because he'd led it on a previous attempt. My mental acclimation was completed by this pitch, which traverses a face, ascends manky rock to a roof, then pulls the roof to a steep splitter. I placed a piece every body length below the roof, not really feeling good about any of them. I was happy that the climbing was relatively easy through that section.

Mike on the splitter above the roof of the first pitch of Scenic Cruise.
Image

The next pitch has an awkward crux start then climbs a steep finger and hand crack. Mike rides the horse on the awkward start.
Image

Our lead-swapping gifted me the money pitch of Scenic Cruise. It's a long strenuous crack that features all kind of fun including fingers, hands and plenty of other good stuff.

Mike at the fingery beginning.
Image

Midway up the pitch.
Image

The pitch ends with a funky exit move into the pegmatite. The pegmatite traverse follows. This features some funky up-and-down-and-across maneuvering, which is probably quite thought-provoking on lead. Mike cruised it to rejoin the original line of The Cruise.

Mike gets pegged.
Image

The lead that rejoins The Cruise traverses into a steep, strenuous corner where the rock quality suffers a little bit. I imagine it was much worse "back in the day" but now it's pretty good despite appearances. This pitch got into my head for a second. I finally reached a ledge below an offwidth without any gear to make a belay there, so I made a bonus gear-free thrutch up the offwidth to another good spot where I could get gear. Fun fun fun.

Mike follows a splitter between the overhanging corner and the offwidth.
Image

At this point, we were definitely past the technical cruxes but far from finished.

Mike for the 8th lead.
Image

There is a fantastic chimney pitch.
Image

One can't help but smile after that.
Image

Mike drew an interesting lead on a traverse to some face climbing for our 10th pitch.
Image

There were three more pitches of mostly stellar climbing with a spot of manky routefinding, then a short ledge-walk to a viewpoint and beers at the car.

It was getting late but we didn't need our headlamps. What a place!
Image

S
T
O
K
E
D

We kept it Casually Off Route for day two.
User avatar
skykilo
olikyks
 
from Santa Fe

Re: Scenic Cruise, Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Postby PeteH » Mon May 30, 2011 12:13 pm

Killer! I've always wanted to climb there!
PeteH
 

Re: Scenic Cruise, Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Postby skykilo » Mon May 30, 2011 12:20 pm

I'd be psyched to climb there with you, Pete. There is so much rock.

The Cruise was originally a route climbed by Layton Kor and Larry Dalke in 1964 and it became known as The Cruise when Jimmy Dunn said he and Earl Wiggins "cruised it" on the FFA in 1976. The Scenic Cruise is a four-pitch alternative in the middle of The Cruise, added by Ed Webster and Joe Kaelin in 1979, that essentially trades 5.10 chimneys for 5.10 fingers and hands. Earl Wiggins made the second ascent of The Scenic Cruise free solo in 1980. ... ! ...

Edit to add links to some threads about Earl Wiggins on Supertopo:
Thread started by Perry B.:
http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum ... rl-Wiggins
Thread started by The Deuce:
http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum ... -the-Craft
User avatar
skykilo
olikyks
 
from Santa Fe

Re: Scenic Cruise, Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Postby ryanl » Mon May 30, 2011 11:37 pm

Awesome Sky. Looks stellar.
ryanl
 

Re: Scenic Cruise, Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Postby ziff » Tue May 31, 2011 8:42 am

nice climbing, Mike and Sky.
ziff
 

Re: Scenic Cruise, Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Postby idahoalpine » Tue May 31, 2011 9:57 am

Sweet climbing. I like the history of the Black Canyon. Seems like it's still a ground up, minimal bolt, wilderness climbing area. Not that I mind bolts! :)
idahoalpine
 
from Idaho

Re: Scenic Cruise, Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Postby Diamond Dachshund » Tue May 31, 2011 10:55 am

Did you get thirsty? I hear people get thirsty there.

let's climb soon. I'll be back in Utah about two weeks.
User avatar
Diamond Dachshund
 
from The Future

Re: Scenic Cruise, Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Postby skykilo » Tue May 31, 2011 11:03 am

I actually bought and took a Camelbak and drank almost all three liters. So I never felt too thirsty but I drank a lot (for me).

Hellz yeah let's climb.
User avatar
skykilo
olikyks
 
from Santa Fe

Re: Scenic Cruise, Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Postby ziff » Tue May 31, 2011 11:44 am

Sky, three liters! I can't recall ever seeing you carry that much water. But it is drier down there...:-)
ziff
 

Re: Scenic Cruise, Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Postby skykilo » Tue May 31, 2011 11:50 am

I never have carried that much water but it seemed like a good thing.
User avatar
skykilo
olikyks
 
from Santa Fe

Re: Scenic Cruise, Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Postby E_$ » Tue May 31, 2011 7:04 pm

right on fellas, looks like a great time. have also wanted to climb there. perhaps within the year...
E_$
imminent whippage
 

Re: Scenic Cruise, Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Postby naomig » Wed Jun 01, 2011 10:35 pm

I am shocked too at the three litre, but I'm all for lots of water.
That chimney pitch looks SWEET!
naomig
naomig
 


Return to Trip Reports

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron