Epinephrine, Black Velvet Canyon 5.9


Red Rocks, Nevada USA

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A map of the general Red Rocks, Nevada USA area is shown below. No GPS coordinates for this specific route are available at this time.

Black 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 The left line of bolts is 5.8, and the bolts have all been replaced by the ASCA.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.

With good light and proper routefinding, the descent from Epinephrine takes about an hour or two. However, it has been the site of epic descents lasting overnight or longer. The key to the descent is to scope it from the parking lot. The common mistake is to attempt to cut down too soon, which can lead to an epic multi-pitch rappel down a huge and loose chimney system. From the pine tree, hike southeast to a notch, then contour up and south to the main ridgeline. Follow huge cairns down the top of the ridge for almost half a mileóresist the urge to head down sooner. Several small cliff bands must be avoided or downclimbed along the way. Eventually a pile of large cairnsó4 or 5 all in one spotómark the start of the descent down steep dirt and rocks. After about 200 yards, the cairns lead back left for about 100 yards, then down through a slabby part of a cliff band to the notch above Frogland. From here it is easy going down the well-marked Frogland descent gully. It is also possible to go back to the base of Black Velvet Wall, but it is an ugly bushwacking experience and not recommended.

Black Velvet Canyon - Epinephrine 5.9 - Red Rocks, Nevada USA. Click to Enlarge
Epinephrine ascends the ominous 600-foot-tall chimney.
Photo: Greg Barnes