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North America, United States, Colorado, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Atlantis

Atlantis. Several years ago Kent Wheeler identified an unclimbed buttress below and around the corner from his route Lost Cities. Kent has the eye of a tiger and experience of many years in the Black, so when he asked me to join him for a new route, my answer was easy. Over three seasons we put up a fine line on excellent rock. During a final push to the walk-off terrace atop pitch 13, we made a cold bivy in crumbling rock three pitches from the top; retreat was not a likely option. We went back in late May and put together a quality finish through a maze of unlikely pegmatite bands.

Approach via the Prisoner of Your Hairdo gully past Lost Cities, and continue down and around the corner. A small cairn at the base marks the start. Up 30' and left 30' is a greenish pillar forming a right-facing corner where pitch one begins. Pitch three has a classic Black Canyon traverse: unprotected, balancy, and committing climbing that leads into an excellent 5.11- seam. Pitch six, a full ropelength, traverses under the rotten “black eye.” After this traverse a party is significantly more committed to finishing the route. The route steepens above and gives nice 5.10/5.11 climbing for the next seven pitches.

In September Kent and Jay Shotwell added three more pitches above the large terrace to finish the route at the Narrows Overlook. The first of the final three pitches is also the crux, at hard 5.11. If the day is late, however, a party can walk off left past Lost Cities to the escape gully.

Atlantis (16 pitches, V 5.11) is the name of one of the famous Lost Cities. There are likely more cities waiting to be discovered on this new wall of good rock. A topo is available at the North Rim ranger station.

Jim Howe