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South Chasm View Wall Climbed Ground Up, Free

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison, where Bergner, Kalous and Wharton established and freed a new linkup, Event Horizon (5.12, 1,500′), on the South Chasm View Wall (left). [Photo] Jesse Varner

This summer and fall, Chris Kalous, Stephanie Bergner and Josh Wharton climbed a new variation on the South Chasm View Wall, in Colorado’s Black Canyon of the Gunnison. On October 18, Kalous and Wharton completed the climb free in less than 11 hours.

Event Horizon is a 1,500-foot line comprised of mostly 5.11 climbing and two pitches of 5.12. The climbers placed two bolts on lead, but otherwise protected the climb naturally.

Event Horizon follows the first three pitches of the Kerry Gunther and company aid route, Harpua, then ascends four new pitches before connecting to Black Hole (5.12; Andy Donson and Johnny Copp) to the summit.

“It’s continuously steep throughout,” said Wharton, who thinks it’s harder than the popular Astro Dog, rated 5.11+. “It’s totally worthy. It’s one of the better routes on that wall.”

Bergner belays Kalous as he drills one of the two bolts on Pitch 5 (5.11, 35m) during the first ascent of Event Horizon in August. [Photo] Stephanie Bergner

In April of 2014 Wharton, after freeing the Hallucinogen Wall, said he was moving on from big projects in the Black. But a few weeks later he and Kalous started up the line. They made it up the first three pitches off the ground and retreated.

Kalous returned two more times with Bergner, once in August and once in September. After inspecting the first few pitches again, climbing into virgin terrain and placing one bolt, they retreated. Finally, they climbed it wall-style over two days and prepared the line for a free ascent.

I called Kalous at his home in Carbondale to learn more. When he and Bergner prepared for their multi-day ascent, he said he still had only a “vague idea” of what the line would be like. And after four pitches of new climbing, the team “got sucked back into the Black Hole.”

Wharton frees Pitch 3 (5.12-, 35m), a spectacular, overhanging crack that was first climbed as part of the Harpua route. [Photo] Chris Kalous

Unlike much of the climbing in the Black, Event Horizon is not runout, says Kalous “There is one place where you climb a really big detached flake [on Pitch 5] that’s cracked all around. But that part is easy,” he said. “You just hope that your little body doesn’t overcome thousands of years of erosion.” The highlight for the first ascentionists was Pitch 3, comprised of tip locks and chimneying in the back of an overhanging flare.

Wharton credits Kalous for preparing the climb. He says, “He did all the work. I got to come [back] down and do the fun part.”

Sources: Chris Kalous, Josh Wharton,

Kalous and Wharton atop Pitch 8 (5.12, 60m) of Event Horizon during the first free ascent in October. [Photo] Chris Kalous