The Free Nose
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The Free Nose (aka Black Magic) is one of the most spectacular and finest long free routes in Colorado. The climb attacks the steep and dramatic central prow of North Chasm View Wall in roughly 14 pitches of sustained, technical, and sometimes devious climbing. It is so steep and wild up there that one feels strange not standing in aiders, hauling a big bag, and munching on Chef Boyardi. There is unprotected 5.10, mandatory 5.11, and four sections of well-protected low-end 5.12. There is an excellent bivy ledge mid-way up if you chose to do it in 2 days; this ledge hang is reason enough to split up the climbing in 2 days...what a hang! Perhaps the best season for this route is late Spring, just before things get too hot- you do not want to be up there if it is roasting. There is very little munge, a few short sections of bad rock, and very diverse climbing cruxes (stemming, bulges, technical face, liebacking, cracks). It is possible to retreat with 2 ropes from as high as the top of the 5.12 corner pitch, but above that retreat would be very difficult, although not impossible. What follows is a bit of narrative to compliment the accurate topo in the new Black Canyon Rock Climbs guidebook. I have included the names Jeff gave to select pitches during his rather prolonged obsessive phase with this route.
P1 and P2 (5.8 or 5.9): Start at the Scenic Cruise corner, and climb this to the large terrace. Walk left and belay.
P3 (5.7): At the left edge of the terrace climb a bushy crack to a small ledge.
P4 (5.9): Step left and climb the left corner of the large flake to a good ledge (rap anchors, good bivy site).
P5 (5.11c R): Now climb the clean corner past a flake, and continue past the hanging belay on the Goss-Logan free route (the G-L free route traverses out right just below the obvious roof). Climb through the roof at stiff 5.11 with thin gear, a bit necky, to a nice stance at bolts.
P6: Jim and Waynes Excellent Adventure (5.12a with 5.10b R): Climb the obscenely beautiful corner above past 3 bolts to a runout 5.10 section. Step left at a 2 Friend placement to a hidden stance at 2 bolts and belay. This is one of the finest pitches of climbing in the Black, very thin and technical stemming.
P7: The Ghost (5.12a with 5.11a R): Climb up past a tenuous, frightening flake (the Ghost) clipping some ancient bolts if you choose. These bolts were added after Goss and Logans first aid ascent. Now ascend a steep bulge past 2 bolts, doing some difficult moves on sloping holds, while hand traversing a bit right and into a corner with poor rock and marginal gear, 5.10+. (This is where Goss and Logan pendulumed right and escaped onto the Kor-Dalke i.e. Cruise on their first ascent.) Move left out of the corner past a hidden bolt, then climb tricky face up and left on dark rock past 2 more bolts, 5.11c. Belay at 3 bolts (the third bolt is pro for the next pitch). A butt bag is nice for this hanging belay. A hard lead.
P8: Let x = x (5.11c with 5.10b R, 5.8 X for second): Step down and then traverse straight left, each move easier than the last, following a tiny ledge past a rotten corner. Continue left to a rotten 5.10- section leading into a 5.10+ hand and fist crack, bad rock, scary. Unfortunately x does not equal x, as this pitch is dangerous to follow, at least on the moves after unclipping the protection bolt at the start of the lead-there is no gear from the bolt to the 5.10- section, about 40 feet, although most of the traverse is easy. Belay at a perfect ledge (Pigeon Ledge).
P9: Flight of the Pigeons (5.11d with 5.11b R): Climb unprotected, awkward 5.9 up a sharp flake, then clip four bolts through a 5.11d section (some fragile holds). Climb up with no gear (5.10) to a good .5 TCU placement, then punch it further on runout 5.11 following a weird crack that eventually has good pro. Belay at 2 bolts (hanging). A difficult, heady lead, very exposed.
P10: The Leaning Corner (5.12b with 5.10c R): Climb up and right with RPs to protect 5.11d climbing. Now climb into the corner (you are now on the original Nose route) and do a difficult boulder problem past a fixed wire or two. Smaller fingers may help with this section- you may be able to just lie it back. Very technical, powerful, 5.12b, and the technical crux of the route. Continue past a ramp and up a short step of 5.9 through some pegmatite. Belay on a sloping ledge (Pewter Ledge) at some bolts.
P11: The Pewter Wall (5.10d with 5.10c R): Climb unprotected 5.10c for 15 feet up a clean wall, then stretch right for a .75 Camalot placement. Move up and right past a bolt, then hand traverse right (5.10+) and up to a nice stance. Do not continue straight up after the unprotected start of this pitch- it will lead you through the Death Blocks roof on the aid Nose route (Jeff and I climbed through this once I strongly recommend against it- very loose and dangerous; people aiding the original Nose route and needing to expedite things to the rim should consider the Free Nose exit).
P12: Live and Let Die (5.10c): Climb the peg wall above past some fixed pins (5.10), then round the corner right and climb a clean, sharp 5.8 beauty of a hand crack.
P13: Step left to a 5.9 crack system leading to a large ledge.
P14: The Photo Finish (5.11d with 5.10c R): Climb the 20 foot ceiling above at the obvious crack (5.11d, fixed wire), then turn the lip and climb a short stretch of unprotected 5.10 to the guard rail. An amazing pitch which overhangs the base of the wall 1800 feet below. It is also possible to climb up and left and rim out at 5.8 (a tough choice, eh?). On a rainy, marginal day one might consider rapping in to climb just the roof.
Consider that many of the ratings were suggested by Mr. Achey, who appears to be somewhat of a sandbagger. Enjoy.
2 sets TCUs, 1 set Lowe Balls, 2 sets .5 to 3 inch cams, 1 4 inch cam, 2 sets RPs, 2 sets wires, 10 quick draws, 8 long slings. Tag line.
By Michael Komarnitsky
From: Seattle, WA
Oct 18, 2001
How about a nice pat on the back and a hearty thank you?
I continue to be impressed by the routes that you add, both for their rigor and your write ups. Let's see, what could we throw your way? some trango gear? BRC passes? coffee? Oh yeah, we've got some really sweet gps world supply mouse pads and stickers, just give me an address and I'll send those right over.
By Anonymous Coward
May 16, 2002
There was a fixed wire at the overhang on the first 5.11 pitch left by the FA party which was since been removed. Now that section is borderline x-rated and quite heady, if not outright dangerous.