Black Ice

Posted on 15. Oct, 2013 by in News

After the flood, there was much speculation from many climbers in the local community that either established boulders had shifted or that new boulders had fallen. Some joked that Cage Free was now on Pearl St., and that climbers exiting the Sundown Saloon would huck a drunken lap on the classic dyno. Last Sunday Boulder opened at 5pm and I was ready and waiting to drive up and assess the damage. Aside from some obvious places where there where mudslides, none of the boulders were affected, and there were no new boulders big enough to climb on.

It has now been three weeks and slowly trails and roads are opening. Rumour was starting to spread that Black Ice may have been affected and with some free time on Monday, I made the 45 minute trek there to see for myself. As I made the final approach I thought to myself, “There’s no way that massive boulder moved, this is just more internet nonsense .” But as I rounded the corner, I was shocked. The entire boulder had tipped, and the gigantic 15 ft. roof of Black Ice was flat on the ground, erased from existence. There wasn’t much to do except take a few photos and sit there in silence with my thoughts.

IMG_5768Black Ice in 2010

IMG_5732Black Ice, Oct 14th, 2013 from a similar angle

I thought about Will Lemaire, the prolific FAist who found, cleaned and climbed the first ascent in 2003 (who climbed the problem with some absurdly difficult beta). I thought about hiking up there a few days after Will’s FA in a foot of snow, and immediately putting it at the top of my project list. I thought about filming the problem with Ben Scott, and how challenging it was for me to commit to the upper slab. I thought about how absolutely gratifying it was to overcome that fear and climb the boulder. I thought about the ridiculous internet grade war that revolved around this problem and became the example for all that is bad about the web. And I wondered if perhaps climbers had had an impact, by removing a number of rocks from the base to climb the sitstart. It’s only speculation, and in the end we’ll never know.

Black Ice is sadly dead. I am happy to have climbed it, and saddened it is gone.

Here is video from just a few weeks ago, of possible the last ascent:

As far as I know, it was never flashed. Angela Payne made the FFA in 2007. There are 22 registered ascents on 8a. If anyone has more info, I’d love to hear about it!

5 Responses to “Black Ice”

  1. Tendon

    15. Oct, 2013

    Holy Crap! that is the craziest thing I’ve seen all week.
    Well, at least I don’t have to feel guilty about never sending it now.
    RIP Black Ice

  2. peter beal

    15. Oct, 2013

    Great write up Jamie,
    Based on my experiences so far, Black Ice may have been the only major climbing casualty from the flood. I do wonder about the effect of excavation on a boulder like that, Echale being another example.

  3. Name (required)

    15. Oct, 2013

    dude Jamie…what about the arête to the right now? is that a climbable line? sometimes out of disaster is rebirth….

  4. Brian Kimball

    20. Oct, 2013

    NO SAY IT ISN’T SO ;o( I was lucky enough to climb the problem shortly after Will and most people know I moved a few very small rocks from the landing of the boulder to make the sit start more doable and less dabby but I can assure you none of those rocks were touching that boulder or supporting the weight of that massive boulder. The sit start was quite dabby and no one ever climbed on it to my knowledge but I did hear that over the years more people moved more rocks from the sit start to make it less dabby? It seems to me unless they removed pinched blocks supporting the boulder with ratchet straps and come~a~longs then there is know way that had any effect on the boulder not surviving the flood and it was going to fall over regardless. I mean even if someone did remove a pinched block which I highly doubt…there is no way a 50lb microwave size block was holding up a 50+TON block and if it was than that boulder was not safe to begin with and luckily no one was killed under the boulder. Peter brings up a good point with Echale and I was there and part of the crew who removed the soft dirt from under the boulder but of course none of that soft dirt was touch nor supporting the Echale boulder. It might be something to consider though that Echale may be another example of a boulder that might not be safe to climb during a wet spring or after a heavy rain because who really knows how stable some of these overhanging boulders or cliffs that we climb really are I would not be surprised to see the entire New River Wall sitting in the river someday and certainly remember when half of Debaser and Vitamin H crumbled and feel down during spring seepage in Rifle one year and half the cliff side by Dumpster BBQ shortly after. We just never know when the entire cliff or boulder we are climbing on could give under its own pressure. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that the entire chossy Arsenal cave comes crashing down some wet spring with all the seepage and freeze thaw :o( I figured since most people know I moved a few small rocks (3 or 4 no where near the boulder) from under the landing of Black Ice 10years ago and was part of the Echale dirt excavation crew I better pipe in here. Again not that it matters now but the few very small basket ball size rocks I moved were under the landing and in no way supporting the boulder. I am not sure what rocks have been move since but like I said it seems to me that unless people were moving big pinched blocks with ratchets since I last visited the boulder in 2003 then there is no way that any small rocks moved could have had an effect on this 100,000+lbs block coming crashing down in the 100yr flood.

  5. Brian Kimball

    20. Oct, 2013

    Just watched the video and its been 10yrs but I definitely remember there being a big dab block just left of the starting jug that was obviously removed since I was last there 10yrs ago. I remember it being a fairly large boulder maybe the size of a small coffee table probably 300-400lbs. If my memory serves me right it was definitely pinched tight up against the Black Ice block but I would like to think there is no way that small block was supporting the entire weight of that block and if it was than I certainly would not want to be hanging out under that boulder climbing with my friends, kids and or dogs. It is not hard for me to believe that the boulder could have moved during the flood being that is sits on such a steep hillside and was so overhanging on both the south and east sides. It was right in a major drainage runnel and probably saw tons of spring water run off every year and obviously and especially during this 100yr flood. It truly is a tragic loss of one of the best V10’s I have ever climbed and makes me reconsider the stability of cliffs like The Arsenal or the entire New River Wall that is so big and steep and always seeping. It really sucks that the flood took out one of the most classic V10’s on the Front Range but obviously that boulder was not stable and it was only a matter of time before it was going to come crashing down luckily not on a bunch of our friends or fellow climbers hiding from an afternoon spring rain.

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