North American Classic Climbs

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Scenic Cruise

(Black Canyon of the Gunnison) One of the top 25 routes in this collection!

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Legendary Colorado climbers Layton Kor and Larry Dalke began establishing big routes in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison in 1960. By 1964, they had gravitated toward one of the biggest and most intimidating walls of all: the East Face of the Chasm View Wall. Looming above one of the easiest access gullies to the Canyon on the north side, the monolithic nature of this wall must have attracted their gaze and ambitions upon their first visits to the area. They could not have guessed, as they aided and free climbed the route using the only tools available at the time, the hammer and piton, that they were creating what would eventually become one of the finest free routes in the state. A few years after the Kor/Dalke ascent, and fresh from other successes in eliminating aid from routes in the Black, Jimmy Dunn and Earl Wiggins took a sandwich, a quart of water, and a rain jacket apiece, and boldly launched a successful, 6-hour ascent. When friends asked them about their climb later, Jimmy exclaimed "We cruised it!" It has been known as The Cruise ever since. Lessor among Colorado climbs perhaps only to a few routes on Long's Peak in quality and challenge, The Cruise, and its later four-pitch variation termed Scenic Cruise, provide varied and difficult climbing with many memorable passages. The crux finger crack, the famous Pegmatite Traverse, and a heel-hook move onto a detached flake are only some of the treats served up by this route, the overwhelming consensus as the best in the Canyon.

Both the original Cruise and the Scenic Cruise variation are classic in nature and bear the same difficulty rating. Most modern climbers prefer the hand cracks and finger locks of the variation to the original line, which provides its crux in the form of a long and strenuous off-width crack. Dunn has by now climbed Scenic Cruise over 20 times, but he has never repeated the regular route that he and Wiggins first freed.


Lowland Rock




South-Central Colorado



G1, W11


V 5.10+


Route Descriptions & Maps:

Route diagramUSGS topographic map

First Ascent: Cruise/Scenic Cruise

L. Kor, L. Dalke, 1964 / E. Webster, J. Kaelin, 1979


Trip Reports:

Clark 5/01
Vernon 5/01
Smith 9/01