The Gobbler, Black Velvet Canyon 5.10a
Avg time to climb route: 1 hour
Approach time: 45 minutes
Descent time: 1 hour
Number of pitches: 3
Height of route: 330'
OverviewDone the month following the first ascent of Dream of Wild Turkeys, The Gobbler is really a 3-pitch independent starting variation to that classic route. Outstanding and technical, its first pitch is different from most of the rest of the routes on the wall with thin positive edges on a slick slab and little else to use (often just edges for your feet or hands). The second pitch goes up an easy chimney/lieback, and the awesome third pitch follows thin cracks and bolts up great face climbing to join the belay after the traverse on Dream of Wild Turkeys. While some parties use the Gobbler to pass slow parties, it is an excellent end of the day outing on its own and easily rappelled.
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HistoryIn the late 1970s, ex-Gunks climber Mike Ward moved out to Las Vegas. Early on he teamed up with George and Joanne Urioste for several new routes. The first was Arrow Place, named after an old arrowhead they found near the base. In July 1980, shortly after completing Dream of Wild Turkeys, George was back at the wall in the company of Mike Ward and Bill Bradley, to add The Gobbler variation start.
Mike recalls that it was great to climb with the Uriostes. “They had a wonderful eye for lines,” he said, “and their routes are some of America’s treasures.” George went out of his way to make sure that the routes were bolted safely. Back at a time when bolts were placed by hand, while on the lead, George became known for his speed with the hammer. “He was very strong,” Mike continues, “I remember a time at a climbers’ party watching him do one-arm pull-ups while he sipped a beer with his free hand.”
Climbing in Red Rocks agreed with Mike. He stayed and climbed. In 1988 he opened Desert Rock Sports, the local mountaineering shop that has provided equipment and information to an endless stream of local and visiting climbers.
– Larry DeAngelo
StrategyWell bolted at difficult sections, there is little trick to climbing The Gobbler other than careful footwork on the first pitch. The Gobbler is yet another in the plethora of easy 5.10 routes on the Black Velvet Wall, where other parties often limit your choices to open routes. You can’t really go wrong since every single route SuperTopo covers here would be the finest route at almost any other crag!
RetreatRappel from any pitch, but be careful not to get ropes stuck in the chimney/thin crack second pitch. A single 60m rope will get you from the second belay to the first down this crack, so if you do rap this way, coil one rope and backpack it with you while you use the other rope to rap that pitch, thereby greatly reducing the chances of a rope snag (be careful with the rope ends obviously!).
ApproachBlack Velvet Canyon is at the southern end of the escarpment and thus the approach road is not off the gated Loop Road, so you can start in the middle of the night if desired. The approach trail is straightforward until almost at Black Velvet Wall and takes about 45 minutes. Just before the wall, climb a 100-foot 4th class cliff to the left of the wash bottom. It is steep and some may want a toprope from an experienced leader.
The routes along the main wall all start from a huge brushy slope/ledge system. Prince of Darkness, Dream of Wild Turkeys, Yellow Brick Road and The Gobbler start about 60 feet left from the bottom left of the huge arch. Sour Mash climbs up to the right end of the gigantic roof. For Epinephrine, from the top of the 4th class, walk down back into the canyon bottom, then about 100 yards up the wash to a point below the right side of the huge tower (Black Tower). Look for bolts up the gray wall straight below the ominous chimney above. The left line of bolts is 5.8, and the bolts have all been replaced by the ASCA. The right line has bad bolts and crumbly rock. While this first 50 feet of 5.8 is fun, linking it to the next part of the pitch creates a lot of rope drag, and many parties skip it by ascending the unprotected 5.4 ramp to the right.
DescentFrom the base of Black Velvet Wall, retrace the approach trail. Some may wish to rappel the 4th class, or to have a more experienced climber downclimb the 4th class several times to ferry less experienced climber(s) pack(s) down the wall.
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