Dream of Wild Turkeys, Black Velvet Canyon 5.10a
Avg time to climb route: 3-5 hours
Approach time: 45 minutes
Descent time: 1.5-2 hours
Number of pitches: 11
Height of route: 1200'
OverviewLong and sustained, Dream of Wild Turkeys tackles discontinuous features for over 1000 feet of amazing climbing with nearly every pitch 5.9 or 5.10a. The first route up the main Black Velvet Wall, Dream of Wild Turkeys is the classic mostly face route of the grade in Red Rocks. All of the surrounding routes covered in the Supertopo guide can be seen as variations on this route.
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HistoryThe first ascent of Dream of Wild Turkeys was completed by George and Joanne Urioste in June 1980. This route tackled the central, smooth part of the Velvet Wall. Their original expectation was that there would be a significant amount of direct aid, so they set off on the climb with haulbags, planning for a big-wall type of effort. Serendipity intervened. The wall was not really smooth. The numerous little flakes and nubbins quickly destroyed their haulbags, but also provided the means for free climbing.
They realized that free climbing the face between natural features would require a major bolting effort. This climb therefore became the next step in the “route construction” philosophy they had originated with the ascent of Epinephrine, and refined on Eagle Dance. Though these routes are widely climbed and enjoyed today, they were the source of local controversy at the time of the first ascent.
The prevailing ethic at the time valued an ascent starting from ground to summit in one push, with great efforts taken to avoid placement of bolts or pitons that scar the rock. The strength of many climbers’ conviction is evident from the fact that on some occasions they literally risked their lives to avoid placing a bolt, and frequently backed off or declined lines that could not be climbed with natural (and clean) protection. Such climbers were outraged that the Uriostes would fix ropes and heavily bolt their way up “blank” faces. (It should be noted that by current standards, the Uriostes were very conservative, placing all bolts on lead, by hand and hammer, and usually finishing their routes on summits.)
With that as background we must turn to North Wales, where Ed Drummond and Dave Pearce climbed A Dream of White Horses in 1968. Royal Robbins wrote an article about it in the 1975 book Hard Rock. He opened, “A Dream of White Horses—one of the great names, fulfilling Geoffrey Dutton’s dictum that a name should tell you something about the climb or the way it was done. One glance at Leo Dickinson’s ma... [full history for SuperTopo members only!]
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