Prince of Darkness, Black Velvet Canyon 5.10c
Avg time to climb route: 3-4 hours
Approach time: 45 minutes
Descent time: 1-1.5 hours
Number of pitches: 6
Height of route: 1200'
OverviewAmazingly sustained perfect edges up pitch after pitch of sport bolted face, Prince of Darkness is one of the most classic face climbs in the U.S. With nearly no moves easier than 5.8 or harder than 5.10a, and with no rest ledges, it is heaven for 5.10 climbers, as long as you bring a butt bag or a very comfortable harness. A few nut and thin cam placements are needed, but with up to 15 bolts per pitch, the rack mainly consists of a big pile of quickdraws.
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HistoryGeorge and Joanne Urioste, Mike Ward, and Bill Bradley climbed this route in July 1985. The noteworthy aspect of the enterprise was that Joanne was already a few months pregnant and was feeling the debilitating effects of morning sickness. Her challenges were compounded by a summer heat wave reaching 117 degrees.
The route name was chosen by Bill Bradley as an ironic twist on the local bolting controversies. Dissension had blossomed around the Uriostes’ bolting of Dream of Wild Turkeys. Following this, several members of the “adventure” contingent put up Rock Warrior (Richard Harrison, Jay Smith, Nick Nordblom) as their idea of what a Velvet Wall route should be. Unpersuaded, the Uriostes continued with the heavily bolted Yellow Brick Road and Prince of Darkness, which had even more bolts. The “Prince of Darkness” name referred to the satanic level of evil such bolting was supposed to represent. Naturally, the response was Sandstone Samurai (Paul Van Betten, Nick Nordblom), which had even less.
Amazingly, George was generally unaffected by the rustles of controversy. He had a vision of what a route should be, and he was willing to work quite hard to realize that vision. One of his primary guiding principles was the creation of a route that was elegant and “couth.” He looked for clean direct lines, secure and comfortable belays, safe levels of prot... [full history for SuperTopo members only!]
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