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The Hallucinogen Wall Goes Free


by Kristin Carpenter

May 24, 2004

Camp4 - Climbing News Archive

Durango Climbers Jared Ogden and Ryan Nelson Free All 14 Pitches of Black Canyon Classic

Over May 20-22, Jared Ogden and Ryan Nelson completed the first free ascent of the Hallucinogen Wall, on North Chasm View Wall in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The style in which the route was sent will undoubtedly foreshadow future ascents and contains a D10+ rating for the one crux pitch that was sent via drytooling (leashless ice tools and rock shoes were used).

"The combination of introducing a new style of freeclimbing on a big wall with the mental and physical demands of the route make this one of the hardest ascents of my career," Ogden said. ŗThis will surely open new doors to the future of big wall free climbing."

The route required four weeks of commitment in-between days off of work and was done in 14 pitches. Ogden, 32, and Nelson, 24, worked the crux pitches on rappel after getting stormed off during a ground up attempt. They rapped in four more times top-roping several crux pitches, with little success at first.

Two of the original 16 pitches were eliminated by linking them together. Two bolts were added on a variation to pitch 4, which eliminated a pendulum. Other than that, no new fixed protection was added to the route.

Of the 14 pitches, there are three at 5.13-/R, one D10+, one 5.12+, three 5.12's, and a handful of lesser pitches that are also hard in their own way. The entire climb is rated [grade VI, 5.13-/D10+/R]. "On pitch 11 we encountered a bolt-protected blank face," Nelson said. "The minimal holds on this section would not have held body weight so when I took drytooling to this pitch I quickly realized its advantages. "By having two tools and using my feet my weight was distributed more evenly, allowing me to pass through the blankest section."

Some of the sections on this pitch were so blank that traditional ice picks didnšt work. Nelson created a freak tool, consisting of a pecker bolted to the front of the pick. With this tool he was able to pull over the crux using a hold that only accepted the first tooth of the beak.

"The drytooling was exceptionally hard with steep roofs and the most technical rock sections Išve encountered," he said.

Nelson said that he can only compare this route with hard mixed routes he's completed and that D10+ is a conservative grade for this pitch.

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