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Charles nearing the end of the crux splitter on Co...
Comic Relief is an excellent introduction to 5.10 climbing in the Black, with clean rock, good pro, easy routefinding, and a relatively short day. The climb stays in the shade until early afternoon, so it's a good choice for hot weather. This is one of the more popular routes in the canyon. It is easier, shorter, and better protected than Journey Home.
Descend SOB gully to a white, polished slabby area under the third prominent buttress on your left. Look for a prominent left-angling feature low down (the "Vector Traverse" on Escape Artist) and a beautiful, thin, curving crack to the right of this. Head up the slab to a worn path leading to a 100 foot shoulder of broken rock. Scramble (rope?) 4th and easy 5th Class up and right to a large block/flake and the bottom of the route. All pitch lengths are approximates, and like many routes here, optional belay points may be used.
Pitch 1 (75'): Begin in a nice 5.9- corner which leads to the base of the splitter crack. Variation: The thin tips crack to the right (with a little bush in it) is hard 5.10, but somewhat dirty. Belay at the base of the splitter (or keep going - you can combine these 2 pitches).
Pitch 2 (100'): Climb the splitter (excellent 5.10b, RPs at start) to a stance and belay (extra thin hands pro).
Pitch 3 (140'): Climb a left-facing corner, and move right where it ends. Climb the short wall above, or move around right to the base of a slab (optional belay at some blocks). Climb the slab (5.7), and a second short slabby/corner (5.8), to the base of an overhanging, black corner, and belay (good anchors, a little sloping stance though).
Pitch 4 (120'): Traverse straight left, to a 5.9 hand crack groove which leads to a nice ledge. Variation: Climb the strenuous "Black Corner" above (5.10), then hand traverse straight left (5.6) to the belay ledge (optional 4" cam to protect the 2nd). Note that if you used the optional belay on pitch 3, you can climb the slab and traverse left to below the 5.9 groove and belay in one pitch.
Pitch 5 (120'): Several options. Climb up and right to a thin crack at a bulge, slightly sporty 5.9 or easy 5.10; or up, then left around the outside corner to join Escape Artist, and onto a steep pegmatite wall with a crack (5.9 or so) which leads to the large, sloping shelf at the "Lightening Bolt" crack, and belay below the prominent corner.
Pitch 6 (85'): Climb the grungy-looking corner with a precarious block (5.9+ if dry) to a short pegmatite section, and a belay ledge on the right. This pitch climbs better than it looks. Variation: Climb the striking lightening bolt crack (5.11b or so) on the overhanging right wall, sharp, strenuous, but well protected with large wired nuts to 2" cams. Variation 2: The runout arete left of the corner is 5.8, dirty and best ignored.
Pitches 7-8 (300' or more): Climb the lower angle, but at times runout, wall above (some 5.6) to the top of the summit ridge.
Go to the left-most set of rap anchors, just over the edge, and above a big chockstone. A single 60m rope will take you down to a rubble ledge system. Ascend the obvious and loose gully to the north- do not take the gully to the right (east)- and hit a vague trail back to the campground. This is the "standard exit".
With the Black Corner and the Lightening Bolts, the climb is a more sustained challenge. If you combine P1 & P2, and simul-climb the upper wall, the route goes fast in about 6 pitches. Watch out if you are climbing below another party, since stuff on the exit wall is loose, and a rope could easily dislodge something big.
Double set wires to 3" cams, one set RPs, a 3.5" piece. A single 60m rope will get you off the top of the summit ridge. Helmet.
A 5.10+ variation to the 1st pitch of Comic Relief...
lightning bolt crack
06/24/2004. Crew approaching the top of P2 on Comi...
Traversing to the beelay after the Black Corner
Starting up P1. 5.8 or maybe easy 9.
Photo by Luk...
Starting up P2, 10a? There's a medium hard move to...
The stance after the crux. The piece at Luke's fee...
There's a hard move here past a closed off section...
Starting up P3 5.7 or 8? The guidebook said this w...
Starting up the aesthetic P4 9 pitch. I thought I'...
Squeezing into what was for me the thin hands crux...
Starting up the 5.9 orange left facing corner of P...
At the crux move of P5.
On the black left facing P6 corner. This pitch loo...
Luke climbing the summit slabs. 1+ pitches or sim...
BETA PHOTO: Starting up P3. Just above the crux pitch.
starting the first pitch
BETA PHOTO: Escape Artist Buttress from RUSSIAN ARETE. Climber...
BETA PHOTO: Climbers on COMIC, 9-28-08.
Jeff Bevan belaying on "lightning bolt ledge".
Climbers high on Comic Relief, May 20, 2009.
Lindsay having no problem running it out the crux ...
P4 traverse above the Black Corner option.
Just above the crux on P2.
|By Bryson Slothower|
Nov 19, 2001
Although meeting up with Escape Artist on p.5 is easier, the climbing on the original line is very fun and asethetic, I recommend taking the original route.
|By Bryson Slothower|
Feb 24, 2002
The fifth pitch goes straight up through a short chimney section then RIGHT up a ramp to a great 5.9+ corner that leads directly to the base of the lightning bolt crack...
|By Darin Lang|
Jun 10, 2002
A very good climb on good rock the whole way up. The crux pitch in particular is fantastic. It seemed quite sustained at the 5.9 grade until we gained the upper slabs - definitely in a different league from Maiden Voyage.
Pay close attention to rope drag if traversing over to the 5.8 finger cracks on Escape Artist on P5. I foolishly did not, and paid the price by doing 100 lb leg presses up the finger cracks and onto the sloping ledge.The original line looks much nicer.
Oct 30, 2002
The climbing is over after the first pitch (assuming that you link one and two of course) the rest is mindless climbing. Great intro route to the canyon.
|By Anonymous Coward|
Oct 30, 2002
Strongly disagree with Piz. If you do the Black Corner and Lightning Bolt pitches, the climbing is by no means over after pitch 2. A 3-star route in my book.
|By Charles Vernon|
From: Florence, AZ
Oct 30, 2002
I also disagree, and I didn't even do the Black Corner or Lightning Bolt variations. Thus, instead of thinking of the route as hard, I like to think of it as beautiful sustained 5.9 crack climbing the whole way (until the exit slabs), briefly interrupted by one out of character, short stiff (and thinly protected) 5.10 section.
Nov 4, 2002
I just like to see who's reading and who's not outside climbing. I am not intending to offend anyone. : ) Sorry, if that's what happened.
|By Ben Mottinger|
May 27, 2003
Overall excellent. I would suggest an extra 3.5" piece if you belay below pitch 4/5 (5.9 hand crack). The belay requires this size so the leader must climb fairly high before a no. 2 camalot fits.
Near the end of pitch 6 there is a very small little overhang cave thing that is just big enough to keep two people from getting rained on as long as you are about 12 years old. Otherwise you have to like your partner a whole lot. And enjoy knees/elbows/etc jammed in your chest/legs/etc. ;-)
Slightly better than Escape Artist IMO.
The second pitch is sustained and while no single move may be 10c, the entire pitch feels about 10c to me.
|By Ross Keller|
From: Parker, CO
May 25, 2004
The 1st two pitches combine nicely. The crux hand/finger crack is as good as ou'll see anywhere!
The black corner pitch is better than it looks with excellent climbing and adequate pro (10b-pg).
May 25, 2004
The 5.10+ direct start is great and easily combines with the next pitch. Do this start, the Black Corner, and the Lightening Bolt and you have quite a bit more sustained climbing.
|By Dr. Dan|
Jun 25, 2004
Climbed Comic Relief in amazingly good weather 6/24/04. Linked P1+P2 which is definitely the way to go. Makes for a sustained 185 ft 10+ pitch. Things to remember. Double sling at the end of P1 to reduce rope drag and listen to the beta about bringing lots of small hand and finger pieces. P1 and P2 are mostly small hands and fingers. Ran out of appropriate pro which led to a run out of about 20 feet near the top of P2 before getting a nice green cam in. The Black Corner is a worth doing. It looks blocky and easy, but is just over vertical with less than perfect jams and some awkward holds.Watch for loose blocks, rocks and a few sticker bushes on the last 2 pitches (easy 5th class unless you get lost).
May 30, 2005
Charlie from Winter Park here,... A great route, and fantastic intro to the Black. Highest quality rock (although a few of the ledges have loose stuff on them), takes great gear, and a cooler side of the canyon. Crux pitch felt a solid 5.10 - one can bicker over letter grades, but in the old days we just called it 5.10. And what a great pitch at that, one of the finer 5.10s I've done in a while. The upper pitches are incredibly good, too. So don't delay, go out and find a belay! Naturally, do be careful!
|By Ivan Rezucha|
From: Boulder, CO
Oct 17, 2005
Great climb, although wandering. All pitches are good, even the easy summit slabs. I followed the the P2 crux (carrying a substantial pack), and the orange left facing corner, and led the other 9 something pitches and had a harder time on all the 9 parts (leading or following) than on the 10 moves. The 10 moves are just two technical very brief moves to decent stances. The 9 climbing is sustained and pumpy and somewhat dicey at the several thin hands sections.
From: Boulder, CO
May 17, 2006
Get an early start! This route is getting popular. We left the campground at 5:30am and were first on the route. By the time we were at the second belay stance, there were two parties on our tail. We were not climbing slowly either. (We did the entire route from the first move to the summit rappel in 6 hours).
Also, even though it is rated 5.10, it seemed hard. I think that the thin hands crack on the second pitch (splitter), and the 4th pitch were definitely the cruxes. The 4th pitch openbook hands crack felt much harder than 5.9 to me. I had a harder time on this pitch than I did on the 5.10b splitter crack of pitch 2. I followed the 5.9 and lead the 5.10b.
Overall, this is a great climb with solid rock. Very enjoyable.
|By david goldstein|
May 25, 2006
We took most if not all of the hard variations and found this to be excellent: shady, clean, continuous and sustained (except for the easy peg at the top). Sort of cool that one could go back the next day and reclimb the route doing a quality variation on almost every pitch.
Very good route description by SL.
|By Chris Perkins|
From: Avon, Colorado
Aug 29, 2007
The second pitch is harder than 10b if you have big hands, but that goes to say with most cracks. The fourth felt harder than 5.9 also. The book is correct when it says leader needs to be solid on 5.10.
I liked Journey Home better.
|By Jeff Stephens|
From: Carbondale, CO
Sep 27, 2008
Great rock, great protection, great views, great comraderie.... Pulling into the 5.9+ dark dihedral on Pitch 6 (middle of pitch 5 for us) was the crux for me. It is steep, awkward, and generally swarthy. The leader faces a bad ledge fall here, but on toprope I harmlessly and repeatedly bounced off the ledge as I morphed into a dog while trying to climb this corner. I kept falling even though I was yarding on a jammed hex. The climbing is sustained, with 5 distinct sections of great jamming.
Also, I dropped a bottle of Vadge body spray somewhere on this route. If you find it, just go ahead and use it.
From: Carbondale, CO
Sep 29, 2008
Great route - long, interesting, & reasonable enough to be enjoyable by any ~5.10 climbers. I found the 4th pitch to be slightly harder than the 2nd. WAY more physical @ least.
|By Will Anglin|
From: Sykesville, MD
May 22, 2010
.11b for lightning bolt is a bit sandbagged I'd say, definitely hard .11, powerful and painful.
|By chris begue|
Jun 12, 2010
Great route, that whole wall with all its variations is a unique place in such a "forbidding" canyon!! The picture of Phil Broscovick on the 10d-really 11a/b variation was taken by me. And if you want a wild variation to the last real pitch or lightning bolt pitch traverse right around to the other side or straight up the prow!!! First done by John Hulett and myself.
Sep 16, 2010
There's a three-star crack pitch that can be climbed halfway up this route, fully worth the effort for one of the best pitches around.
From the ledge atop ~p3, where the black dihedral is on the left, scramble down and right for 35' to a flat ledge on the right margin of the buttress. The pitch is obvious, and takes excellent, fingers-to-thin-hands gear. This is described in the guidebook as "Perfect Art".
After ~70' of stellar crack climbing, we beefed up the in situ anchor. The next pitch of 'Perfect Art' is described as "5.12 dynamic friction"... we demurred and rapped back down to Comic Relief.
|By Ryan A. Ray|
From: Keller, TX
Sep 29, 2010
With a 70m rope, you can link pitch 1, 2, and part of 3. We did this and ended at a decent belay at the base of an easy, left-facing, dihedral slab. It is a short slab just before you do the traverse to the base of the 5.9 flaring chimney/crack. Keep in mind that this is exactly 70m as we had absolutely no rope left. I thought I was going to have to simul the first pitch a little but never had to. For pitch 2, you can take it accross the traverse to the base of the 5.9 crack and belay there. For the belay you can use a #3 or #3.5 Camalot along with 2 bomber but very small nuts just to your left in a small seam. It eliminates the need for many large pieces of gear. I suppose you could also link the traverse and the 5.9 dihedral crack as well, but you may wind up with a little rope drag, but would cut out even another pitch. From the top of the 5.9 crack, you can either go straight up or cut out left around the corner to join excape artist and end at the sloping ledge below lightning bolt crack or the 5.9 dihedral. For a final technical pitch, take either lighning bolt or the 5.9 dihedral up to the base of the summit slabs. Run this up as far as you can for a belay, and then simul the last several hundred feet. As you near the top, cut left along a ledge and scramble up some blocky/bushy gullies to the left rap anchor (fixed slings around a block). That makes this an enjoyable 5 to 6 pitch route that goes much faster than stopping at every pitch to belay.
From: Durango, CO
Apr 26, 2011
Loved reading all the descriptions...very appropriate. I led all the pitches as I took my girlfriend up Oct. 2010. P.2 seemed in the 5.10+ range. After walking across the ramp in the middle somewhere, I lead the 5.9 flaring/body jam pitch to a sweet ledge below the "golden corner" pitch. This is where we caught 2 different parties: a 2-person party on Comic directly above us, and a 3-person party on Escape Artist. I led up the Golden Corner pitch to the Lightning Bolt belay and waited...and waited...and waited. Both routes are getting so popular, there's lots of traffic. We ended up climbing the dirty black corner (felt 5.10) in the dark and then the 400-500 ft. of 5.easy to the top with headlamps. Made for an exciting time. Superb route...I first climbed it 10 years earlier...it was every bit as good as I remembered. A fun exit as well. Rap down and head left up the exit gully right to your cold beers.
Dec 7, 2011
If you look up "Man" in the dictionary, it'll say... Webster... and this guy -