February 27th, 2010: Black Canyon of The Gunnison National Park

"Some are longer, some are deeper, some are narrower, and a few have walls as steep... But no other canyon in North America combines the depth, narrowness, sheerness and somber countenance of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison." 
- Geologist Wallace Hansen

Painted Wall, at 2,250 vertical feet, is one of the tallest cliffs in North America, just barely trailing Yosemite's El Capitan. Black Canyon of the Gunnison, which became a National Park in 1999, proved to be one of the most difficult areas of the United States to be explored because of the sheerness of the canyon walls. The cliffs are a playground for the rock climbers and the river has category V rapids for only the burliest of kayakers.

There are only a few hiking trails into the canyon in the summer, and those are "by the seat of your pants" trails according to the rangers. I spent my day touring along the South Rim Road in my best pseudo-nordic style on telemark gear. However, I think I found a skiable line for those looking for a solid 65-75 degree chute with approximately 1800 vertical feet - you know who you are. Don't worry, you should be able to skim the class V rapids at the bottom.

3 comments:

wheresitworking said...

Awesome pics Bernard! I've spent a lot of time in the Black Canyon in the summertime. It's cool to see it dusted in snow.

Bernard Rocca said...

WIW, Black Canyon is a gem. I'd love to hike it in the summer. Or try to avoid near certain death in the rapids.

Katie said...

Bernard! I've hiked down into the Black Canyon twice during the summertime. Once we used the S.O.B. trail and after hiking it there is no questioning how it earned that name. Two of the best experiences of my life. Great fishing, too.

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