Sour Mash, Black Velvet Canyon 5.10a


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 The left line of bolts is 5.8, and the bolts have all been replaced by the ASCA.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

Rappel the upper pitches until you end up on the raps down Fiddler on the Roof (see topo). Pitches 2-4 of Sour Mash involve large traverses and are difficult to rappel. While there is no fixed anchor at the top of Pitch 1, there are trees which could be slung for retreat. To rappel from Pitch 2, use a draw or two for directionals to regain the start of the pitch.

Black Velvet Canyon - Sour Mash 5.10a - Red Rocks, Nevada USA. Click to Enlarge
Sour Mash is an overlooked awesome varied climb.
Photo: Greg Barnes