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  • Kevin Cartwright

The 17 Challenges of the Black Ops Track

Updated: Feb 4


In a nutshell, Black Ops is a track that is littered with devilishly cheeky challenges routed specifically for the hardcore 4x4 enthusiast with a truck to match. It's a fun track that really puts you on the high end of the spectrum of concentration and line picking. If you have ever been to Imbil and Kenilworth only to loop around, hit dead spots and cover average ground, then Black Ops will stop your clock. Below, I have outlined every challenge and what it entails.


CHALLENGE 1: THE KRAKEN


The Kraken greets us pretty much at the door step of the Black Ops track. You can see it approaching and the climb looks like its touching the sky. Its a slick piece of track thats not overly steep, but steep enough to be committing and hoping the vehicle pulls through for you as you apply the throttle needed to get up. Although many can get up The Kraken, many do not either because they change their mind at the bottom, or perhaps the rigs set up is not right. Short wheel base vehicles will find this a bit harder than LWB rigs. Tyres play a big role here but The Kraken doesn't deal lightly with small tyres. But it can be done. For those that do not wish to challenge The Kraken, then there is an alternative track to meet us on the other side. Lockers can help but not necessary.


CHALLENGE 2: THE KRAKEN'S JAW


A nice steady descent that definitely requires 1st gear low range with a rock step approaching to greet you on the right. Speed, or lack of it, is paramount here so its steady on the brake and easy does it.


CHALLENGE 3: POISONOUS SPIDER


The Poisonous Spider is a series of challenges that take place one after the other which makes up a nice little climb to the top. The Spider has nice deeply dished wash outs and ruts so this is a line pickers delight - especially the first bit. Short wheel base vehicle are likely to get some nice wheel lift on this section and, from real world visual observation, a slight misjudgement can put you to the wall. This little section will likely warm up your suspension as the rig stretches its legs a bit. Smaller tyres (e.g. 31's) will have some serious fun and line management comes to forefront here along with throttle control.


CHALLENGE 4: INTO THE DEN


The Den sets us up for a hefty climb for Challenge 5. Into the Den takes us back down into a deep valley and from what I gather on the GPS, the lowest elevation for the first part of the morning. Its a nice little cruise but steepish descent with the odd rut and step here and there. Nothing to serious but still demands attention. This sets us up for our next Challenge.


CHALLENGE 5: OUT OF THE GALLOWS

 

The hill climb is quite epic. You can do this in 2nd gear low and go, go, go but my preferred method is 1st gear and crawl. This is steep and steady throttle is your friend here as it goes for ages. This is one hill that you won't want to lose ground on. After heavy rain, this is most possibly a guaranteed winch hill - no question. Like all climbs on Black Ops, this one is outstandingly fun.


CHALLENGE 6: THE GAUNTLET


Possible winching can and may present itself here. Its steep, rocky, steppy, rutty and all of it combined into one mixed soup. Not only do we have to manage throttle here, but you are flanked by high walls on both sides as you make your run up (hence why its called The Gauntlet). I started up this hill in 2nd low but a few metres in, I thought "nope, definitely 1st gear here" and made it up with a high sense of achievement. My buddy, in his shorty on 31's got hung up on the huge tree root step thats rudely exposed and boulders and had to winch. Part of the fun, particularly when it is as committing as this section.


CHALLENGE 7: THE GORGON + MEDUSA LOOP


This is a rather straight forward descent of medium slope nature followed by an accompanying climb of the same type of slope. What will catch you off guard if you are not concentrating is the "mini me" (about 2 metres in length) gunshot pinch at the bottom followed by an immediate hard left. You must control your speed here, for if you don't, you will cross over the track at speed and would hate to think what would happen if you went over the cliff side. 100% concentration is needed as you approach "mini me" gunshot. After this bit, we do a small climb again which isn't hard but still a low range climb nonetheless - and anything low range is fun.


CHALLENGE 8: BUZZ SAW


A short, steep, nasty 100% 1st gear low range descent that more or less has you sliding down the hill. The section is in good nick, just don't brake when you go down.


CHALLENGE 9: NUTS RUTS


An easy stretch of track that has ruts all over the place no matter how you slice it. There are many lines here. More experienced drivers with rigs to match are welcome to take on more fun lines. The options here are endless.


CHALLENGE 10: PEBBLY BEACH


This is not so much of a challenge but its a nice steady climb doing good 1st gear low range work. Its a section thats riddled with half embedded rocks and boulders that yields a ton of fun as your rig rocks side to side as you make the climb up. Again, its not hard by any means, just some really good fun.


NOTE: From here to Challenge 11, the drive is cruisy so sit back and enjoy it a bit because it gives the cars a good break and the mind can relax a bit as we head on to tackle the final 7 Challenges. Its a well deserved break. Trust me, you'll have earned it, especially the rigs.


CHALLENGE 11: NORTH PEAKS


We are now making our way deeper into the wilderness as we climb towards North Peaks and thus have our senses reawakened with a nice little drop off. In a very short distance of time we descend from 250m to 200m elevation. A nice piece of track that makes engine braking do what its designed for.


CHALLENGE 12: THE LADDER


We are now beginning to enter the latter realms of Black Ops and head into some tougher country and reminds us why we are here. The Ladder is a large but simple climb with a few ruts. Its easy with good line, but harder if you blink and choose a poor line. After we complete this, we are thrown behind enemy lines with some interesting tracks coming up...


CHALLENGE 13: THE BUTCHER'S KNIFE


Unless you slam that right food down and want to end up in snap city, this will very likely be a winch point. Winching is a better option here as it will save possible expensive damage and thats not why we are here. Its a sharp section where we winch, and this is the Butchers Knife. Tread with care and you won't get sliced up. This is a magnificent piece of track and one of my personal favourites. Immediately, when we finish our business with the Butcher we descend into Rocky's Road which is Challenge 14.


CHALLENGE 14: ROCKY'S ROAD


This is a very rocky descent that brings us from 250m elevation down to 200m. Its real long and as we descend we negotiate tree roots, boulders, steps and ruts. Although not gnarly, it is 100% "easy does it" and "slow is the go" territory. Its, yet again, a fabulous piece of dirt that warrants attention and hits the G-Spot for sure.


CHALLENGE 15: HELLFIRE


A steep descent. There's no other way to describe it. It is only a short drop of about 50 or 60 metres in length, but its quite easily a 40 degree slope, perhaps even 45 degrees. When we first approached this initially, it was one of those descents that had us get out of the vehicles to see what level of stupid we were to contemplate it. Glad we did too. 1st gear low range and let it go. Brilliant section of track.


CHALLENGE 16: ECHOES OF ZEUS


This is the second last challenge of Black Ops and boy does it climax at this point. It is absolutely sensational 4WDing in any language and you are going to love it. Guaranteed to put a huge smile on your face. This climb rises 250m in elevation to 450m in elevation. Let that sink in a bit and at a minimum 30 degree slope thats equipped with ongoing, on-the-fly, obstacles.


You have ruts, pinches, trees jutting out at awkward spots, wash outs, lining up along gnarly ridges, climbing and more climbing and more steepness. When you get to the top, you can see why its called Echoes of Zeus. Like many of the challenges in Black Ops, getting to the top of this one will have you feeling like your testicles have doubled in size. This is one hell of a climb and I can tell you, that what goes up, must come down....like a lead balloon. So now, we come to the final challenge...


FINAL CHALLENGE: OPERATION MONGOOSE


This final challenge ends the Black Ops mission which happens to be a 300m drop in elevation. The descent is relentless and is very reminiscent of what one would expect in the Victorian High Country -MAAASSSIVE HILLS. We descend from respectable heights here. And have to say that Operation Mongoose is the longest hill on the circuit. It would rival The Abyss on Hells Bells Track. But where Hells Bells "The Abyss" section is hell rocky, loose and steppy, Operation Mongoose is steeper.


FINAL NOTE


I hope you enjoyed this walk through. Nothing compares to tasting it for real. We are proud of what we have on the table here and I am 100% confident that you will go home utterly and immensely satisfied by knowing full well, that where I have taken you, is the pure guts of Imbil and Kenilworth.


Cheers, Kev


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