Black Canyon

Photo Credit: Will Mayo.
Photo Credit: Will Mayo.

We began our week in the Black with 3 main goals in mind:

  • dial in our technical systems,
  • plan out the next 2 years and
  • just get to know each other a bit better.


I have known Kurt for a couple of years and Erik and JD have climbed together since college but I came into this program feeling a lot like an outsider. Usually you don't rope up with someone for the first time in the mountains if you can avoid it. Better to pick an area with less consequence and yet some degree of complexity. The Black was an excellent choice. With the help of Steve and each other we began the process of fine tuning our craft.


Unfortunately our trip got off to a rough start with Kurt getting into a battle with a tree branch. Tree branch: 1, Kurt’s eyelid: 0. He had to be driven to the hospital and couldn't climb for the rest of the week. I'm happy to say he's fully recovered and has been enjoying great success in the Canadian Rockies, with an ascent of the Andromeda Strain and who knows what else.

For the rest of our crew it was a very successful week in the Black. We all got to climb together and sync up our systems. It usually takes a while to get on the same page with a climbing partner but I'd say we're on the right path. We managed to climb a bunch of cool routes, get benighted twice, explore a lot of the canyon and see how well Steve could handle our often very immature sense of humor.

The accident with Laurel Fan in the Waddington range was always on our minds for the duration of the trip and still is today.  As alpine climbers we have recognize an acceptance of a certain level of risk. I always tell people that my biggest job as a guide is rock management. You can never completely eliminate hazards in the mountains but you can decide which ones are acceptable and which ones are not. Going into these volatile environments is a big part of who we are as alpinists. This thing we call climbing is as much a part of who we are as skin and bone. Might as well take the time to learn and grow with each other and a few great mentors along the way. Thanks for a great week out gentlemen! I am very excited for what the next two years will bring.

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