Southwestern Colorado’s Black Canyon of the Gunnison — a designated National Park — has some of the hardest free climbing routes in the United States. Known affectionately as “The Black,” many of the routes on the pegmatite walls are long and rated with an “X” to denote that a fall on these climbs presents risk of serious injury or death.
Black Diamond ambassador Josh Wharton has been climbing The Black since the 1980s, before an official guidebook to the area was available. Instead, he scaled nearly 100 lines and detailed them in a black binder, expanded over the years using National Park Service topographic maps, beta from friends and hand-drawn route maps from climbing mentors who had cut their teeth on the devilish canyon walls. In 2014, Wharton became the second person to ever lead every pitch of the Hallucinogen Wall in one day, successfully completing an elusive 5.13b route.
This short film captures the humor, determination and passion it takes to dedicate oneself to a project for so long and the simple joy of accomplishing the seemingly impossible.