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North America, United States, Colorado, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Great White Wall, Death Camas Dihedrals

Great White Wall, Death Camas Dihedrals. “Back in the saddle,” I mused, as Andy Donson and I took aim at a line across from Balanced Rock Overlook. Yet saddle sores remained several months later. Blackened and battered, I harbored the memory with utter ambivalence—grateful for the ongoing recovery but pained by the cause. Having been thrown and kicked, I was anxious and excited about the day’s launch, nearly from water-to-rim. I wanted to reacquaint myself with all that is the Black, with living.

The distinct upper dihedral pitches were striking, adjacent to the arete. Less clear was the lower half. We approached via Fisherman’s Gully on May 11, almost as far down as the turbulent flow and cooler air. The features we hoped for, while engaging, unfolded with relative moderation. After four pitches we ate from the varied greenery of the halfway terrace, where Andy introduced me to a flower I couldn’t identify. I reached to bend the slender stem and have a whiff when he suggested I not touch the death camas (toxicoscordion venenosums). Agreed.

The next pitch looked to be a groaner; two obese cracks with an appetite Andy’s rack could not satisfy. Rather than grapple and groan he simply stemmed. A traverse left to a solid face up which we wandered was especially pleasurable. The prominent corner and arete remained. The final length of the dihedral, overhanging in places, had us toeing our way up a pinnacle on the arete. Position and climbing were equally exhilarating. Fortune had found us today. Death Camas Dihedrals (IV+ 5.10R/X).

Terry Murphy, AAC