Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Perfect Conditions

Yesterday, Nick and I ventured up to Black to see what lower elevation areas might be climbable. Basically the entire west side of the mountain is in perfect condition probably all the way up to the Boulder Basin. We were able to drive the unnamed and unmarked road up to the Republic, which was snow free, and climb all day around Twilight of the Idols at 6600'. 45 degrees, sunny, and patches of snow in shady spots made for perfect conditions to climb many unknown lines in this area.
Nick contemplating the sequence under Twilight of the Idols

Thursday, December 17, 2009

New Gate

Good news from the Forest Service today. Officers at the Idyllwild ranger station have been given the green light to install a gate near the Ok Corral, pending financial support and volunteer labor from the climbing community. At our meeting with the Forrest Service earlier this year this was one of the main points discussed: How can access be achieved for a larger part of the year, particularly in the spring when lower parts of the mountain are in good climbing condition. Their main concerns about opening the gate earlier in the season are erosion to the road and the probability that people will go up in the snow on the 10 miles of unmaintained road and get stuck and need assistance. A reasonable conclusion that we suggested was to install a gate that would allow access just to the Ok Corral so the lower gate could be unlocked. This would open up a huge area of some of Black Mountain's best climbing during the optimal season. We figured that as a community we could help raise funds and rally the labor.

As of now it sounds like logistics will be worked out with the forest service in the spring (location, NEPA related planning, raw material, etc.) after the snow recedes and installation will commence in the summer. In the meantime Alan and I will need help organizing a fundraising event(s). Let us know if you have any ideas, like a dunk tank for Alan, or auctioning off the naming rights to unnamed climbs, or swag to raffle off. Initial quotes on the gate were around $2400, a manageable figure but not a cheap gate. Fingers are still crossed with all things this bureaucratic, but for now I think the community can chalk this up as a victory to be celebrated. We will keep you posted with further updates.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

End of Season

People were able to make a few more cold and sloppy trips up to the Ok Coral and the Republic after lasts week snow, but this most recent storm surely has dropped multiple feet of the white stuff. With several storms lined up in the Pacific, and forecasters calling for above average snow pack, it looks like Black is out of commission for a few months. Alan and I will be back out at the lower elevation spots as soon as possible and in the meantime, we are focusing on the literary section of the book and maybe even roping up for some Jtree trad.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Alex recently provided this footage of Expatriot shot last spring. The problem is about a hundred+ yards downhill from the visor under the landmark alien spaceship boulder perched on a small dome. It is a four star, amazingly steep, blocky roof atypical of Black. If anybody has worked this line we would love to get feedback on the grade. v10, 11, and 12 have all been suggested. If you have been on it let us know what you think.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


An old Toni Lamprect FA over by Cracker Boy. Many of you probably know the stand start as that cool geometric v8 thing in the corridor. The sit is called Dementor and clocks in somewhere around v12. Poor quality, but hey, that's all you're gonna get.

UPDATE: Fixed the name from Dominion to Dementor. Stupid generic boulder problem names. Might as well be Soul (take your pick: Snatch, Caliber, Slinger, Shine).

UPDATE: Fixed the post title too. Why can't I remember the name of this problem? It switches in my brain from minute to minute.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Silver Fox
and the
Captain's Junk Cave Project

Friday, November 13, 2009

Black Mountain on Climbing Narc

Alex's vid of Beowulf was featured by the Climbing Narc.

Epic photo

Ian the Ubermensch on Twilight of the Idols. Photo by Damon Corso. You can see more of his stuff here.

Black Mountain Thursday

Looking back at the blog, it might look as if we only care about the hard problems, but this isn't true at all. Although they rarely make the blog, there are great moderates; problems for all levels and for all climbers. Some thoughts on why hard problems dominate the discussion here:
#1 The hard problems are the ones we spend the most time on because they are...well...hard. We have a connection to them we lack with many of the moderates.

#2 Hard climbs are rarer, and in that respect stand out. There are over 900 problems under v9, and only an ever-growing handful that are harder (31 and counting).

#3 The moderates at Black Mountain need no introduction. Everyone knows there are heaps of amazing climbs for beginner and intermediate climbers. It is less well known that there are harder problems as well. We are taking old school Black Mountain and turning it into a modern climbing area, and that necessitates double digits.
With that being said, Sexual Healing (v11) was just put up yesterday at the Chappies. Out to the Wild Things area Saturday!

Photo: Ian on the Captain Junk project.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Weekend Update

The drive to finish the guidebook keeps us up at night and on the mountain for the weekends. Saturday was spent on the west slope at the Lion's Mane and Wild Things areas. There are some great circuits around these two large boulders, and the majority of development on the mountain will take place here. Sunday was spent finishing up the climbing at the Chappies.

The FAs keep poring in, and Black Mountain now has more double digit climbs than Tramway and Joshua Tree combined, and for each hard climb there are twenty moderates. It looks like the book will have around 1000 problems, and we're doing our best to climb them all...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Via Alex over at, a video of Ian on Beowulf. Oh the agony of defeat, the middle section will break your heart. Unless, of course, you are heartless.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Four Stars

Here are some snaps from the weekend of two lesser known world class climbs of Herculean stature from opposite sides of the mountain. They share an aesthetic grandness, a pure sequence, 20+ moves, 35+ ft, and they are both very hard.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Raison d'Etre

A new addition to the Tour de France wall. Alan should be credited with working out all of the beta, that's right, ALL THE BETA. It's like that saying, "If I have climbed harder, it is by standing on the shoulder of giants," with "giants" being Alan and "climbing harder" being Ian's FA of this problem. Somewhere between v10 and v11. Let us know. (There are lots of "come on" so you may want the sound off).

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Brush Brush Brush

This is what we do three days a week, every week until the snow comes. Brushing problems, climbing problems, writing it all down. The project continues! Hats off to everyone who's been coming out with us, getting on new things and confirming the grades.

We spent Sunday at the YMCA camp. At some point Ian became scarface - he claims a tree is the cause but I have reason to believe otherwise - and here is Ian Scarface getting ready to commit on Light as a Feather (V6).

Nick, being a Navy Seal and all, required TWO spotters when he climbs. The idea is that he would crush a single individual, and somehow doubling up is supposed to fix that. I don't understand it either. The lighting on this arete is cool though, and it has a sweet view of the creepy burned down camp. Name anyone? More photos to come as we process them...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Fall Update

I have been too busy at Black this fall to even update this little blog. Autumn is officially here as is the window of crispy temps we so dearly cherish. We are nearing completion of rough drafts for the Basin, Summit, Lookout, and the area spanning from Town Square to Group site 4 and 5. Also included in the list of completed rough drafts are the Chappies and several areas below where some pretty amazing projects have gone down recently. In other news, I hiked Fuller ridge to the summit of San Jacinto last week, sixteen miles roundtrip, and about 3.5 miles in around 9000’ is a boulder field reminiscent of the Druid Stones above Bishop. It is unlikely that many boulderers would make the trek, or that we will have the time to either, but it is worth mention and we will try to learn a little more and put directions in the guide for the ambitious. Our midweek Black Mountain day has changed to Thursdays if anyone wants to join. We need lots of help just climbing everything to get grade consensus as well as help from those who know history and problem names for different areas on the mountain. Thanks!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Happy Birthday

The Basins sharp but classic Transmaniacon!

Pilo on Trans

This weekend we kicked off the fall season with the annual Buck and A-ron Birthday roundup.Temps are getting better! Alan and I have a ton of work to do this fall on the guide and every ones help with problem names, grades, projects, pics, or any other information pertinent to the guide book such as getting contact info for oldschoolers and prior generations of Black Mountain climbers who might like to put in their two cents. Get the word out!...we can be reached here or at our email This is your time to tell us what you want out of the guide, when you did it, what you called it, and how hard you think it was regardless of whether it was last spring or back in 82'. We are nearing completion on the majority of topos for main and peripheral areas created in illustrator with the help of gps mapping software, aerial photos, and forest service maps, however, getting accurate names and consensus grades is going to be our biggest challenge.
In other BM news...fall is approaching which means great temps accompanied by anxiety that the gate might get closed at the lightest dusting of snow. Alan and I are in communication with the forest service to potentially put in a higher gate at the OK Corral that would be closed first, allowing longer access into the winter. For this to go down climbers might need to help raise funds to pay for it and believe or not, those gates are not cheap. One way to raise cash that we have been talking about would be a raffle of donated items from socal gyms, retailers, gear makers, and anyone else willing to participate. Another good, although slightly contentious idea would be hosting an online auction to give climbers the chance to name an unnamed boulder problem of which Black Mountain has its fair share. If anybody has any other ideas or input regarding a new gate, winter closures, or lobbying the forest service please get in touch with us.

So back to problem names and an example of the historical tangle we are up against. The images below, shot Saturday, are of a prominent triangular overhang on the west side of the road between group site 3 and sites 4 and 5. It is uphill about 50 or so yards and easily visible from the road. The climb starts on two diagonal incuts from a squat start, throw to a shelf, make your way to the right arete and then compress to the top at about v7ish. It is a quality line with a little spice at the top! Locals claimed the FA in 03' and dubbed it Vegan Shoveler, however, rumor has it that a season or two earlier a crew passing through from Arizona did it. In addition to this there have been capable climbers frequenting the outer flanks of this mountain discretely for decades. An obvious line, a stones throw from the road...could have been done in 82'.

Bridget, A-ron, and Isaac on "Vegan Shoveler" v7

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Part II

As long as the wind blows, summer climbing at Black is manageable. Oddly, by mid-afternoon yesterday we were looking for our hoodies as gusts of cool air threatened to rearrange the pads. Featured below is a look at an abbreviated sequence of the many starred Ghost Dog v8 that also earns a deserving fluttery heart due to the cruxy last lock and pop to the top at 20ft. Exhilarating! I was able to get these snaps off a rope set up to clean lines on the adjacent monster bowling pin block featured below. And the last image is of Pilo, sending a fine dihedral in style, one of the many high quality moderate climbs of the area.

Damo sessing the gently overhung Ghost Dog V8

A very technical lower sequence gets you to a rail with best holds (polished near full pad sloping edeges) on the climb 3/4 of the way up


FKA of 8 Ball in reference to the 8th pocket being the one to grab.

Pilo on the FKA of Flaming lips. Photo by D. Corso

Thursday, June 25, 2009


A brief peek at where this Wednesday's session took us...
Damo making the FKA (first known ascent) of Light as a Feather v6.

Pilo on one of many steep crimp lines at this sector of the mountain. photo by D. Corso

And myself, pressing out the top of Solstice V7/8. photo by D. Corso

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are...

Bridget on Velvet Revolver

Check out this vid that Alex created from the weekend at We have been working on mapping out the south west side of the mountain accessed from the Corral. A lot of this climbing is typical Black Mtn with some out of the ordinary gems mixed in. At approximately the same elevation, the bouldering continues out of the Corral all the way around the mountain until you hit the Black Mountain Trail which would take you down to the 243 or up to Boulder Basin. This is a long 1.5 mile slog not necessarily worth doing in its entirety, however, along the way tons of rock has piled up hosting some amazing lines like Where the Wild Things Are featured in Alex's vid. The weather for the last several weeks has been pleasant, with the clouds resting right below the mountain creating the June gloom island effect. It does look like things are about to warm up. With Alan on guide book hiatus in South Africa and summer heat about to kick in I will be a little less ambitious through July and August. I will still try to make it up once a week if anyone wants to join as well as update this blog with guide book progress so that anyone interested in the our current focus, giving input, or meeting up can do so. Currently I am occupied collecting all the raw data necessary for finishing up topos to established and peripheral areas. Once the maps are in a near finished state it will be easier to then collect all the missing info like little known problem names and description details. Thus the goal by the end of summer is to have all topos for the Republic, Ok Corral, Boulder Basin, Summit/Lookout, Group sites, Chappies/YMCA and beyond near completion. So far the book will be structured into these 6 general regions loosely grouped based on access with a lot of smaller areas and satellite blocks included. Below is a rough draft an overview map showing this grouping. Let me know what you think?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Nuevo Negro!

With the spring semester/quarter coming to a close, most of you Wednesday climbers/adult learners seem to be preoccupied. For anyone able and interested, we are going to be leaving the OK Corral tomorrow morning around 9:30am to climb on some very large blocks that require about a 30 minute walk around the hill. It should be a good day venturing into the little known outer realms of the Black Mtn. bouldering. The guide book process so far has been focused largely on the main areas, however, time has come to venture out a bit more and decipher what is worthy of including in the outer lying vicinity. This process of recon, cleaning, and climbing is a lot of work but very rewarding, and everyone's participation is very much appreciated. Look for my little silver Tacoma at the Corral, and carpooling up the Mtn is an option too. If we all go into the woods and clean a problem then we each have one new line, if we share what we found than we all have many new lines!