Triassic Sands, Whiskey Peak 5.10c
Avg time to climb route: 1.5 hours
Approach time: 30 minutes
Descent time: 1.5 hours
Number of pitches: 3
Height of route: 360'
OverviewDeservedly one of the most popular 5.10 cracks in Red Rocks, Triassic Sands has an unforgettable roof crux, and a super-long hand/off-hand crack that would chew you up if it were not for the abundant face holds that bring the climbing down to the 5.9 range.
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HistoryFA: Joe Herbst, Larry Hamilton, 1972.
Triassic Sands was the first “real” rock climb of significant length at Red Rocks. It was originally climbed as an aid route in 1972 by Joe Herbst and Larry Hamilton, as a warm-up for the Salathé Wall. One look at the wall and you can easily see that this route does not skirt the main challenges or wander through broken zones of weakness. Joe and Larry were two of the most productive early Red Rocks climbers, and together accounted for a number of serious routes including both the Rainbow Wall and the Aeolian Wall.
In the late 1970s enthusiastic young Randal Grandstaff turned his attention to free climbing Triassic Sands. As a teenager a few years earlier, Randal served an apprenticeship as ropemate of Joe Herbst. Building on that experience, and with a few Yosemite seasons under his swami belt, he was now starting to build a name of his own. Randal’s plan was to climb the beautiful hand crack about 30 feet to the right of the aid line. This required some difficult climbing through an initial overhanging section. Randal showed up with a couple of aggressive young friends and went to work. They climbed the overhang and gained the hand crack above. By all rights, they should have been done. The rock becomes less steep, and plentiful face holds ease the difficulty.
Unfortunately, an obstacle barred their way. Just below the belay spot, a horribly loose flake blocked the crack. It was several feet wide, and was so delicately balanced that merely touching it caused it to shift. The climbing looked suicidal, so they called it a day and went down. Randal was never one to pass up a good story, so he told Joe Herbst of their effort and the high quality of the climbing.
The challenge intrigued Joe. During a visit from his good friend and trusted partner Tom Kaufman, they went up to have a look. Tom anchored himself in a hanging belay just below the death flake, giving himself enough slack to pendulum to the side. Joe led up to the flake. Using handholds to the side, he positioned himself to get a foot onto the precarious block. The next move would require the ultimate in mutual confidence. Joe gave the signal. Tom swung to the right. Joe cranked with all his might. The huge flake toppled to the left and cartwheeled down the face, exploding dramatically on the slopes below. With the threat thus removed, they completed the free ascent uneventfully.
– Larry DeAngelo
ApproachAccessed by an independent dirt road far from the gated Loop Road, Black Velvet Canyon is an easy and convenient area to approach. The obvious trail heads up from the parking area toward the mouth of the canyon. After a gentle climb, the trail splits—one branch dives down into the creek bed and the other climbs steeply up left to Frogland. The trail bypasses a small cliff band to the left, then contours right through brush to the base of Frogland, which is easy to spot by a 30-foot-tall white flake at the base of a big, brown left-facing corner. The Whiskey Peak crag routes begin 100 yards to the right.
DescentDescend all routes by rappelling. Follow the same trail back to the car.
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