North Rim of the Black Canyon
Newberrys' Slab area
is a relatively easy route per Black Canyon standards route located down the cruise gully on the North Rim of the Black Canyon. Although rated as 5.9, it is much more sustained than Maiden Voyage
or Casually off the Route
, which are also 5.9.
Newberry's Delight as the name suggest is named after Black Canyon veteran Jimmy Newberry.
First Ascent: Jimmy Newberry and Les Choy in 1978.
The route is located on Newberry's slab area, a nice formation below Checkboard Wall. The route does not top out at the rim, but below the Checkerboard Wall, and can be nicely combined with the other routes above. We linked it up with Maiden Voyage
and King Me
. This link up gave us a lovely day of climbing, 9 long pitches (we used 70 meter rope).
The original route ascended the 5.7 ramp on the right side into a chimney, but now most parties climb the beautiful 5.9 hands to fists crack, which is great pitch and the most difficult one as well.
The route is in the shade in the morning and gets sunny in the afternoon. Summer can be brutally hot on the black walls of the Black Canyon, plan your climbing adventure accordingly. Our link up with Maiden Voyage
and King Me
asked for an early start in order to complete all three climbs in the shade. We started at 7 and were able to chase the shade for our whole adventure.
All climbs are within the designated Wilderness Area of the Park's Inner-Canyon and you will need to obtain a free backcountry permit at the North Rim Ranger Station. There is a self-registration materials out front for after hours check in. An extensive "climbers notebook" is kept at both the North Rim Ranger Station. You can copy the descriptions and topos if parking rangers are around.
Cruise Gully descentTo reach the North Rim
: Take Hwy 92 past the town of Crawford and turn right (west) onto the North Rim Road, follow the signs for the national park for 11 miles to the North Rim Ranger Station and the North Rim Drive. The first half of the road is paved; the second half is graveled, but suitable for all vehicles. The road and the North Rim Ranger station are closed in the winter.
Note there is no road that links the rims within the National Park - you have to drive around. It is more than 70 miles. Most visitors visit the more accessible and touristy South Rim.
To reach base of the Newberry Delight climb
, you need to descent via Cruise Gully
. The best place to park is either Ranger Station, or the entry to the campground. I prefer the ranger station since I can walk down hill on the way back. Look for a well established path on your left (south side) that leads into the trees. Once you enter the trail, there is a sign Cruise gully and reminder that you need a back country permit to descend down into the canyon. The trail is located about 50 yards past the SOB trailhead and on the opposite site, and 100 yards up from the ranger station.
The descent is class 3-4 scramble, with 2 rappels near the end. Both rappels had fixed static lines. There is poison ivy between rappels 1-2 and below the rappels (no poison ivy above the rappels).
Start of the Climb: follow the Cruise Gully to long, right angling ramp on the upper part of Newberry's slab formation. It was easy to spot. Go up the ramp, overgrown with vegetation, but not exposed. Look for the splitter 5.9 crack in a v-shaped formation going higher up into a chimney.
: Climb the 5.9 hand to fist crack, eventually entering a chimney. The start is the crux, especially for those with small hands. The chimney has some chockstones, which appeared solid. At a roof above the chimney, traverse left across a slab (exposed and unprotected) and belay at a ledge. 50 meters
Pitch 2: Move up and left through broken crack and face climb 5.9 to reach a ledge. The move to get into a crack was a little hard. Move through some broken terrain covered with brushes. Move right and and locate a short, left leaning finger crack that leads to another ledge. More right onto slabs 5.6, ending at a stance below a left leaning finger to hand crack. 60 meters
Pitch 3 and 4 can be combined with 70 meter rope, expect rope drag. Climb the 5.7 finger/hand crack to easier slab above, trend left up to another large ledge, move on easier terrain here. There is a short hand crack, steep, which brings you to the top of Newberry's slab formation.
Newberry's Delight, 1st pitch 5.9
Newberry's Delight, 2nd pitch
Newberry's Delight, 3rd pitch
Walk Off: Enjoy the view from Newberry's Slab area. You will have to drop down to reach the base of Checkerboard Wall. Scramble down class 3/4 along a rib of rock into thick brush and walk uphill to Checkerboard Buttress. I could sense that someone has already traveled there, but there was no established trail. The guide book says it takes 10 min from the Newberry's Slab formation to Checkerboard Wall, we did not time it, but it seemed like a long 10 min. Luckily, there was no poison ivy between these 2 (there is down when one is descending Cruise gully).
Remember there is not a true walk off from this route. You are below static lines in the Cruise Gully and you do have to climb some other route to get out.
- Personal rock climbing gear
- Standard rack up to camalot #4 (we usually carry doubles for 0.5,0.75, 1,2, and 3). Plenty of long slings. Anchor material.
- 70 meter rope if linking pitches together
- Plenty of water
- Long pants - you will be traveling through poison ivy on your descend in Cruise gully