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This is a amazingly sustained route that teeters on hard 5.9, easy 5.10 the whole way. Excellent rock and good pro make for an enjoyable day, once past the serious first pitch. This route is borderline grade III or IV. The line is direct and easy to follow, but the sustained nature of it could make the day a little longer. To find the start, look for the Ament's Chimney, the huge cleft that can't be missed. Scramble up the exposed third class to the base of a large dihedral on the left side of the chimney. This right-facing dihedral is Kachina Wings. Traverse across a good ledge to its end. The route climbs the left-facing dihedral above. The first half of the route, until the chimney roof, receives shade all morning. Note that I climbed this route with a 70m rope and stretched it several times. Belays should be adjusted accordingly.
Pitch 1: Dangerous, but not more so than most other Black pitches. Can be done several ways. Move up and left to an undercling, then back right to the dihedral and up to one of two ledges, the second being directly below the chimney capped by a roof. The second ledge will require a 70m rope, a good way to go on this route.
Pitch 2: Pass the roof and continue up and right to an uncomfortable belay. I believe that you should belay above the pegmatite with a 60m in order to reach a large ledge after the next pitch. This was the most strenuous move on the route.
Pitch 3: Blast up the sustained 5.10- crack system which will eat just about any small to mid-size pro you throw at it. Belay left on a large ledge.
Pitch 4: Move back right and climb the short 5.9 offwidth and belay after. I linked this and the final pitch and ended up kicking rocks off the loose ledges above onto my partner who was simulclimbing the 5.9 offwidth below my 100' runout. It is best to do it in two.
Pitch 5: Continue to large ledge 30' below the rim.
Traverse left several hundred feet and scramble to the top at the same 3rd class spot The Cruise finishes.
By Charles Vernon From: Tucson, AZ May 14, 2002 rating: 5.106b20VII-E2 5b R
"Dangerous, but not more so than most other Black pitches"?
I'd have to disagree with that one. You can't compare it to obscure X-rated choss-piles or grade V hard 11s and 12s. Compare it to the other 5.9-5.10 trade routes: it's certainly a more serious pitch than anything on Scenic Cruise, Escape Artist, Comic Relief, Maiden Voyage, etc. I led this pitch, and after the undercling 25 feet up (first gear), all I could get in the next 30+ feet of sustained 5.8-5.9 was a shallow, iffy rp. Be solid on 5.10-I suppose that goes without saying. Probably not a good first Black route for the 5.10-max team, though.
On a related note, Ed Webster went straight up on the FA (instead up of up and left above the block, and then back right). He describes this as 5.10, borderline X, and indeed someone broke both legs falling off this way a few years ago. Incidentally, this straight up variation was the only place I noticed any chalk!
Btw, you can easily make the second ledge on P1 with a 60 meter rope, but rope drag might be heinous.
I led the first pitch 3 days ago and have to say I stand somewhere between Charles and Brian's comments. The pitch is dangerous but after the initial moves off the ground you get a good piece at about 20 feet and then the climbing eases a bit. The pro is rather sparse (iffy RP) but the holds (I cut back right) were positive. Once you reach the pegmatite bulge you can get another good piece to protect the only other difficult move before entering the dihedral. If there were more suspect rock on this pitch I'd call it X-rated, since the rock is pretty reliable I'd say it's R or S, but I agree that the leader should be solid on 5.10 for this pitch of 5.9, falling is not an option in places. I'd also agree with the 70 meter rope suggestion, the route can be done in four pitches with the simul-climbing on the last pitch mentioned above. Great route, pulling the roof above the chimney is some of the best climbing in the canyon and the long 5.10 (pitch 4) is
By Charles Vernon From: Tucson, AZ May 14, 2002 rating: 5.106b20VII-E2 5b R
I don't think it should be rated X either, although it comes close. I guess my beef is mainly that, when you compare it to other intro/popular routes for the 5.10 climber, I can't think of any pitch that's as serious. At my level (i.e., I climb 5.10 but fall/hang sometimes) these distinctions matter, e.g. last year I had no problem leading the "Peg Traverse" on the Scenic Cruise, but was not ready to lead this pitch, which seems to be objectively quite a bit more dangerous.
The climbing is positive as Bryson says, although I felt the hardest section (before the protectable peg bulge) was after the good piece at 20-25 feet, your mileage may vary.
My feeling is on long routes 70m ropes are more hassle than they are worth, especially if you are simul-climbing at times. 70m ropes are heavy, take more effort to coil and pull up at belay stances, and really offer no advantages for linking pitches if you are still willing to simul-climb. For simul-climbing, a shorter rope works better- there is less rope drag, the rope is lighter, there is less distance between climbers and hence better communication, less gear is needed, and it is simply faster (if for no other reason than both climbers are moving together sooner). Consider that on many routes in the Black simul-climbing offers the distinct disadvantage that the second has nowhere to hide should the rope (or the leader) knock a rock down.
Great route. Good rock. Good gear (after the first 40ft). Expecting to have a casual day on a "Black Canyon half route", I was surprised by this route. It has much more sustained climbing than the "Escape Artist" or "Comic Relief". Be prepared for full contact, in your face, sustained 5.9 and 5.10 for 500+ feet.
Also, the third class approach is sketchy. Loose rock and huge exposure. If people are scrambling above you, you become the bowling pin. Don't be to proud to rope up on the approach, just be extra careful with rock fall.
Regarding the runout first pitch, I think my nonchalance in the description could be blamed on the fact that I didn't lead it. I stood on a comfy ledge and picked my nose while contemplating how many gallons of puss my body would produce just from being in the same hemisphere as that god forsaken plant, as Slothower made the moves gracefully. However, I think any 5.10 climber with the stones to climb in the Black should not shy away from this route.
In my opinion, Journey Home pitch 1 is a 5.9 lead for a strong 5.10 climber. The potential for injury (or decking) if you fall during the runout is pretty high, route finding is not obvious (there are at least 2 distinct ways to go), and the moves are solid 5.9. Not to talk you out of it, but be prepared for exciting and potentially dangerous climbing. Also consider it is the first 40 feet of the route, and all the pistons may not be firing yet.
Leisure Climb, on the other hand, is 5.9- and you have pro (a good TCU) about 8 feet to your right, so if you fell at the worst spot you'd swing (and maybe get hurt). I would think a well-controlled 5.9 climber could lead this pitch without undue mental trauma.
By Charles Vernon From: Tucson, AZ Sep 24, 2002 rating: 5.106b20VII-E2 5b R
Dear A.C. #1, I agree with the A.C. #2. The runout on Leisure climb is about 5.7, and the consequences are uncertain. The two distinct runouts (before and after the ~25' mark) on JH are certainly solid 8, probably 9, and injury or worse seems inevitable in the event of a fall (see my comments above). The rock is quite solid though, if you find the correct and easiest line (a couple years ago, someone wandered off-route--and if I recall, there is chalk on the off-route, but not on the easiest line!--broke a hold, fell, and broke both legs!).
I would only add, in regard to A.C. #2 (Steve Levin???) comments, that I am not that solid of a 5.10 leader, i.e. I rarely venture onto .10+, and sometimes fall on .10-. However, I felt safe leading P1 of JH, but only by making sure that I was on-route and could always downclimb out of trouble (for the most part, you can stay on your feet and not get pumped)--so it took me a while to lead. For me, it was the kind of pitch I kind muster the mental energy for, oh, about once a year!
OK Charles, am I that obvious? You see, my manager here at the blood works is catching on that I frig away a lot of time on this site instead of working, so he's started to monitor how often I comment....
I've led the first pitch 2 distinct ways- if memory serves me, first by going up and right after the overlap, into a peg flake/corner system (5.9 R), and second, trending up and slightly left, then following a shallow groove/corner straight up, avoiding the big corner on the right entirely (5.10- R). Both ways felt "serious" to me. I think a margin of error should exist for anyone leading this pitch, that's why I said it's a 5.9 lead for a 5.10 climber. But I'm sure a "5.9" climber could lead this pitch successfully, albeit with some mental fatigue.
Either way you look at it, I gotta get back to work.
I fully agree a margin of error should exist on this pitch (it's not remotely for the "5.9-max" leader) as opposed to Leisure Climb's crux--I guess I was just nitpicking about where it lies. I was able to lead the pitch safely (i.e., I never felt close to falling, and always felt as though I could downclimb out of trouble). I used to lead 5.10 regularly but hardly thought of myself as a "strong 5.10 leader".
If you have the least bit of doubt heading into this pitch, make sure your downclimbing skills are way-honed--or things may get gnarly. Do not expect to connect the chalk-dots!
While the 1st pitch warrants the prior comments, the rest of the route deserves two hearty thumbs up. The chimney/handcrack, crux corner, and hard 5.8 OW create one of my Black favs. Good rock, a bit short, but worth every second. The approach up to technical climbing may warrant a rope?
This is an incredible route, and among the best grade IVs anywhere. I can't believe it's taken me this long to do it. I found this to be a more burly, though quicker day than the Scenic Cruise.Except for the top part, I can't remember many sections that drop below the 5.9 level.The pitches are real rope stretchers if you do it as described in the guide book... bring LOTS of long slings.Don't skimp on the water either... this thing roasts in the sun all day and is pretty sheltered from breezes... we got cooked.
Regarding the first pitch: it is serious indeed, but the climbing is positive and the route obvious. If you're used to this sort of thing in Eldo then it won't be much of an issue. I found the spicey sections of Checkerboard Wall to be more difficult and far less obvious.
Just another comment that the first pitch isn't that bad. It's only a little heady because its the first pitch and you're not yet in the climbing groove. After the first twenty feet, you get a good piece of gear. The gear placement in the pegmatite (green alien) is bomber. I definitely felt the crux of the climb was the fourth pitch (as described in Robbie's guide).
By Ross Keller From: Parker, CO May 25, 2004 rating: 5.10b6a+19VII-E2 5b
I definately recommend roping up for the "3rd class" at the bottom. It's a long way up and there's a lot of looseness.
The first pitch has good gear at 20 & 40 feet. The worst part is the first couple of moves off the deck.
Overall an excellent climb, but a bit of a sandbag in that there is a lot of strenuous climbing and this is not a short route (too bad the Brit rating system is so hard to understand--it'd work well here). If you're just breaking into longer climbs in the tenish range, don't underestimate the physical and mental commitment that this climb requires.
By Charles Vernon From: Tucson, AZ May 25, 2004 rating: 5.106b20VII-E2 5b R
Ross is right--I once had to retreat from this route when my partner got spanked following the 2nd pitch roof (he actually ended up prussicking a few moves as I had backcleaned pro), seemed about ready to pass out, and refused to continue. It was something of an epic retreating with one rope! The point is, we thought he would be fine, as he had previously swapped leads on Escape Artist--but he wasn't even up to following this route due to the steep and sustained climbing! Having since completed the route, this is especially true of the crux pitch, and I think we made the right decision to retreat that day.
I think this route is just as good as Scenic Cruise in all respects except that it is shorter. The crux pitches in particular are varied and fantastic.
sun beta for July 10th: start of 1st pitch in the sun in the morning, with the nxt 2 corner ptchs in the shade of the corner. sun comes around the corner around noon, providing direct exposure for 1.5 hrs until the sun tips back behind the wall=_ shade. enjoy rest of climb in complete comfort. Who says you can't climb this wall in the middle of july?!
This was the first route I did in the Black and an experience I will never forget. The crux dihedral is sweet!! Once again Ed Webster is the man!! I can't imagine how cool it would be to do a first ascent like this. I remember when we did this a few years ago there wasn't any fixed gear on this route, I think that really adds to the experience.
Also, on the first pitch, don't tug on one of the left hand flakes too hard, looks good, but it may turn things into a slaughterhouse! Cheers.
By JimmyRay May 25, 2005 rating: 5.10a6a18VI+E1 5a
It may be a tad long-winded, but thought some might find some humor in this: I'm a well-traveled, experienced (although after reading this... some may opt to question the later) climber that tends to seek out, and enjoy "spicy" climbing... so Journey's 1st pitch rep hypnotized me like a moth-to-the-flame... Unfortunately, for some reason (in hind sight that I can't explain) I was under the false impression that Journey Home traversed well left of the "starting" pillar... did I see the huge right-facing corner looming above? Yes... but in my mind, that was another route?
So off I go, heading further and further left, and up... things started getting really "serious" in a hurry... While, at first, I saw chalk trails, they were soon countered by lots of scruffy terrain... terrain that didn't seem to have undergone the "cleansing" effect of much, repeated travel... go figure? One would think that the "light_ would _click_ on"... nope.
After a bit of exploration (at times bordering 60ft off-route, and way runout), and a bit-more of retreating, up and down, and back to the vicinity of the hang, or overlap (where my only pro existed), I finally decided to try it about 5ft left of said overlap (remember, I'm trying to stay out of the obvious corner above)... about 4 moves later, in the middle of a committing pull-up, I snapped a hold, and promptly took a 40ft, Tarzan-swinging screamer!!! Surprisingly, it would have been clean, except for my left foot which impacted the bottom of the "starting" pillar... knocking me upside down... ultimately I ended up below the ledge. Alas, my belayer was catapulted into the other side of the pillar, impacting with an elbow-hip combination... for a silent moment... we both conducted "inventory" checks to determine how bad the damage was, and decided that as long as we kept moving (i.e., kept loose), we'd probably be okay? I pulled the rope (anal about clean ascents) and headed back up (re-placed the #2 Camalot that caught me, anal to a fault), where all of a sudden my mind was clear, and the route "revealed" itself to me like a connect-the-dots children's coloring book... making me feel like the idiot I proved to be... We continued to the top without incident, but in light of the epic/injuries, coupled with it being our 5th day on, pretty worked...
In conclusion (assuming one is on route, or isn't an idiot, which ever comes first) I agree with one of the earlier posts, in that the 1st pitch protection factor is reasonable... In my opinion, what makes it scary is that the initial pull onto the wall starts from atop a pillar, above the ledge/ground... thus fall potential looms immediately out of the gates... however, once established on the wall, chalk, and positive holds lead to the hang, or overlap, where solid (and should I say, tested) protection awaits. I'd say, from standing on top of the pillar, if you feel high percentage about making it to the overlap, give it a go. From the overlap, Climb immediately right, and up, and another slot (.5in, or yellow Alien-size) can be had... then down-climb a step or two, and traverse right into the peg corner where protection opportunities are ample.
Lots of great climbing ensues. Personally, the crux for me was the roof above the chimney, which for some reason took me a while to get turned around into the right position (stem) to pull/jam up?
It's been a week now, and I'm still limping, albeit ever so discretely.
By phil wortmann From: Colorado Springs, Co. Oct 14, 2007 rating: 5.10-6a18VI+E1 5a
I feel compelled to voice concern over the "third class" ratings in the black. I've always known third class as only needing three points of contact, with little or no chance of serious injury, i.e. the Keyhole Route, the standard route on Crestone Needle, etc. The approach to Journey Home/Kachina Wings is not "third class". I would rate it 5.0 at least. Even the best climbers out there will use four points of contact. This goes the same for the traverse ledge exiting Lauren's Arete. Labeling something as "third class" doesn't make you look tough or anything, it just leads others astray. This would be similar to calling the North Chimney approach to the Diamond "third class." My advice is to label it appropriately so that others may make the decision ahead of time to simul climb, rope climb, or solo, knowing the right information.
By Lordsokol From: Boulder, CO Oct 14, 2007 rating: 5.10a/b6a+19VI+E2 5b PG13
Climbed yesterday with P.W. This was a hard route, but VERY fun. Definitely one of the most sustained routes in the Black Canyon. There was just really no place to rest or take a break. Every pitch demanded our full attention. Here are a few specifics:
The 3rd class approach, (unless we went some other way -which I don't think we did) was NOT 3rd class. Call it what it is... hard 4th class or 5.0. (See P.W. comments above) We roped up for it because there were definitely some moves that required 4 points of contact and because of the crumbling nature of the rock in the lower part of the canyon.
The first run-out pitch was mentally challenging, but the holds are there. I stepped off the pillar and onto the rock, made an under cling move off a small flake, and pulled up to a larger under clinging flake to place a cam. From there it was another 20 feet or so up and right until I could get another piece in. It took a few minutes before I started to get the right "mind set" but once on, the pitch went well enough.
The other two "cruxes" of note were the roof above the chimney on the second (or third depending on your rope length) pitch, and the entire 5.10- classic crux pitch. For the roof, once you pull it, you are not done. That might have been the hardest part, because as soon as I cleared the roof, I expected at least a place with some positive holds. There weren't any. The route just kept going up in its sustained and awkward way to the belay. And for the 5.10- minus pitch, though it ate up gear, you had to find just the right piece. There was no resting on this pitch either.
The final 5.7 pitch was about the only place where I felt like I could relax and just climb and look around the canyon. It was a nice reward for a well earned perch. We topped out basically at the campground.
It's a day later and my hands are still swollen and my knuckles all bloody. It hurts to type this... literally. But, I would climb it again in a minute. Totally worth while!
Phil Wortman wrote; I feel compelled to voice concern over the "third class" ratings in the black. I've always known third class as only needing three points of contact, with little or no chance of serious injury
So Phil I think it's like this. The classical definition of "3rd class" has meant 3" points of contact on easier terrain". The term has also been conotated to indicate "No rope on moderate terrain". Back before all the color coordinated pointillism (i.e.; red point) of modern ascent climbers used to say "3rd classing" to mean "no rope". In the extremes of the Black the term "3rd class" conotates anything from scrabbling through descent gullies to un- roped movement way off the deck. Both have significant opportunity for serious injury and should not be taken lightly. As my buddy the wall crawlin' Newberry always said "It's DESPERATE in the BLACK"! Hope that helps clear things up.
I did this about 10 years ago with a novice, and came close to death. On the final easy pitches at the top, I pulled on boulders forming a ledge. Dirt poured out the bottom, and seconds later several refrigerator size pieces fell through my legs as I stemmed wide. I had traversed in and the blocks missed our ropes. Furthermore, a party was directly in the fall line, and the blocks missed them.
I've returned and climbed many routes. Steve
By Jeff Bevan Mar 17, 2008 rating: 5.10-6a18VI+E1 5a
My fav Black rte ! I agree with many re. the first pitch... just getting your nuts slung in the right spot before you step onto the wall is the hardest part. After that thoughtful climbing takes you to the belay. The move out of the chimney is one of my alltime favorite sequences, airy, hard but not too desperate, lots of incentive to get it done, hangin with your right fist jammed over your head and pretty much cutting loose to swing into position to stem your left leg way left is full value! I've repeated this rte many times with first timers and they all have a much more humble attitude toward the Black when done... and its only JH.
"There is a fixed anchor now at the first ledge on the first pitch. " A bolt!? or just a slung horn and/or fixed nut? If there is a bolt there it should be chopped immediately. Not to be elitist, but I feel bolted stations would sort of ruin the Black Canyon experience.
Yes! I was way early on the preachy bit there. After climbing the route again I see not only is it a slung horn and fixed nut anchor as Doug mentioned, but it is MY slung horn and fixed nut anchor from having bailed in a hail storm in May '08.
I was surprised it was still there, and now that I think about it, I am surprised that I didn't clean up my own mess when I had the chance this time around. Doh.
Just did this route yesterday. Here's my impression of pitch 1. First 20 feet off the pillar, 5.8+ X to the good undercling and comfortable stance. Here you can get in a really good #1 Camalot or #2 Friend, or both (and equalize). I call it X, because if you blow it, you fall past the belay onto the exposed face and probably get pretty messed up. Second 20 feet past undercling : 5.9 R to the better protected peg band up and right. You can wriggle in small gear here and there that may or may not catch you, but the climbing is positive. Regardless though, you better be a 5.10 trad leader. Why would you be getting on JH otherwise though....
By Daniel Trugman From: Los Alamos, NM / Stanford, CA Sep 19, 2010 rating: 5.106b20VII-E2 5b R
There's a lot of talk about the first pitch on here already, and as I didn't lead the pitch, I'll refrain from commenting too much about it. I see it as a sort of "entrance exam" for the rest of the climb. You have to have to be solid on 5.10 to lead that pitch, which is a good thing, because you'll have to be solid on 5.10 to finish the climb. I agree that Journey Home is noticeably more difficult that Comic Relief: technically, physically and mentally.
Oh yeah, and did I mention that this is a fantastic climb? Every pitch has some great and challenging climbing on it.
I thought the approach was 3rd class/5.5 climbing. The first time up the scramble we went solo in our skate shoes convinced that the pressure of the Black looking down on us was why it felt so hard. I where my climbing shoes for the approach now. I followed the first pitch my first time on this beauty. The second time around I led it and almost shit myself. The are a couple moves before you get gear where falling would be bad.
There's very little to say that hasn't already been said about this route here, so I will try to confine my comments to new, and hopefully useful, information.
There is a bomb-proof placement above the overlap (not the POS right at the start, the good one up higher) on p1 that will keep you out of the river if you fall before you reach the pegmatite dihedral. It's not at all obvious, because to find it, you have to do exactly what I did, which is to false-start the left-hand variation of p1 (drawn in Robbie Williams' topo), then reverse course and go up the right-hand variation. The placement is in a crack at the base of a shallow, left-facing, right-trending corner system that represents Williams' left-hand variation on this pitch. At the base of that crack, I inserted a bomb-proof yellow Metolius mastercam (yellow Alien will do), extended it with an double-length runner, then climbed down and right on moderate terrain to pick up the right-hand variation marked by the chalky, upward facing flake system where the pro is Pretty Damn Western. To reiterate, you will be *above* and *left* of said flake system when you place this piece.
Once you reach the peg dihedral, there is good gear.
Harder than Comic Relief...more sustained and with the 1st pitch, feels way more serious.
By Ralph Swansen From: Denver CO May 24, 2013 rating: 5.10b6a+19VII-E2 5b PG13
The approach is no third class, certainly very exposed fourth perhaps low fifth. We had double ropes and this helped us on the first pitch. We found gear on a thin vertical seam/crack that lead up directly above the belay station to the right of the climbing path, we clipped one rope to this then climbed left and placed a orange link cam (BD #2) in a granite pocket a few feet below the undercling gear area, clipping the other rope to this. The piece was bomber but I'm uncertain if the pocket would hold up under the pressure of a cam during a hard fall. Awesome route! Very sustained 10 moves for a while!