Superb route. P2 is more awkward than it looks and also quite long. I doubled up on #1, #.75 and #.5 and ended up using almost all of it in P2. P4 is also quite long and can use a lot of gear. Even though it has a wide section, the wall is quite featured so one does not need to be OW climbing expert at all. Crux at the end of P4 is delicate and requires finesse (and you are tired too at that point), but it is fun. From P5 up to P7 the climbing eases quite a bit. I could not finish remaining 3 pitches (4th class and two 5.9s) unfortunately since there was a slower party ahead. The remaining pitches look like a lot of fun. In short, the route is excellent and well worthy the time.
We only did the first five pitches as it was getting very cold and very windy. Once the snow started falling we decided to bail. It was a great route though. We're going to have to come back and finish it off.
The approach was pretty easy, but we made the mistake of leaving the creek bed too early. Wait until you are pretty much even with the climb before heading up. There are earlier climber's trails that lead up, but several of them seem to lead to other areas of the cliff and require some bushwacking to get to the base of Dream.
Pitch 2 will seem longer than it actually is: very stimulating.
Do not overprotect the easier sections of pitch 4: that would tax the leader on the 5.10 slab exit. Your second will not apperciate the pitch 4 anchor being five feet directly left of the crux moves (not a very thoughtful belay location).
We did this route last week, to the summit of Velvet Peak.
I can't believe more people don't do the four pitches from the Velvet Throne up to Turkeyland! Even the fourth class pitch was pretty rock (for it's grade).
I'm a little surprised that SuperTopo doesn't include the 12th pitch (or I guess it would be the 11th according to ST). If you are going to stop short of the summit, then Turkeyland is the logical place to turn back. This is where the bolted belay/rap stations end, and the climbing on the 12th pitch is consistent in character with the previous pitches, albeit 5.6-5.7. *This* is the top of the Velvet Wall, and that is clearly how the Uriostes thought of it, based both on the bolt evidence and the Red Guide.
The 6 pitches beyond Turkeyland are fun, too, in a mountaineering sort of way (reminded me of arete climbing in the Sierra). Mostly easy 5th class, with an occasional harder move here or there. We ended up getting 18 pitches out of the day, and feeling very satisfied. The descent is then the same as for Epinephrine. I think it is Peter Croft who says "Summits count!"
Recommend the Yellow Brick Road (straight-up) variation and don't be a pussy and rap off - climb the whole route. You want shorter climbs go swap semen with the sport fags at the base of the Gallery.
Mill Valley, CA
Jan 2, 2003 - 11:57pm
The route speaks for itself. Unbelievably good climbing. The 9th pitch is one of the best on the route and I think it's a shame that it was left out of the Swain guide. If you have 60-meter ropes you can combine the 8th pitch (4th class) with the 9th pitch.
Just a note on the topo -- the last pitch seems to be missing. From the point where the Swain guide tells everyone to rappel off (i.e., where Prince of Darkness ends), I remember there being four additional pitches (including the short 4th class pitch). The last pitch (which leads up to the Turkeyland belay ledge) is probably about 5.6 or 5.7 and climbs up a face on mostly huge holds with a vertical crack and one old Urioste bolt for pro. The anchor at the top of this pitch does leave something to be desired -- one bolt looks relatively new (but I'm no expert) while the other is this really neat Urioste bolt with two clip-in points. When I last climbed this route there were some slings and rap rings on this anchor, but some of the webbing was looking a little iffy. The last pitch is certainly worth doing, if for no other reason than getting up to Turkeyland. Just be careful pulling your ropes on the rappel -- they can get stuck in the crack or on the huge holds!
Over 1000 feet of amazing climbing on Black Velvet Wall.
Photo: Greg Barnes
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