Epinephrine, Black Velvet Canyon 5.9

 
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Red Rocks, Nevada USA

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Summary of All Ratings

SuperTopo Rating:   
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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Rating Distribution
18 Total Ratings
5 star: 83%  (15)
4 star: 17%  (3)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Aug 25, 2003 - 11:08am
 
The American Safe Climbing Assn. may have replaced anchor bolts on this climb. To find out visit the ASCA Replacement Page

The ASCA is a non-profit organization dedicated to replacing unsafe anchors. To learn about helping the ASCA click here


DONATE NOW
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fargoan

Trad climber
St. Paul, MN (currently Palo Alto, CA)
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   Mar 27, 2004 - 03:09pm
As everybody says, amazing route. Climbed it 3/20/04.
Everyone will tell you "BE SOLID ON 5.9 CHIMNEYS," which is true, but chances are good you'll be so scared, you'll pull through. :) I felt more comfortable in the chimneys than when I had to step out onto the face at some points. It's not THAT bad, but be sure your limit is above 5.9! It's a long day.

To echo others' words, we did the whole thing in 10 pitches, the 10th pitch being a simul-climb of the last three pitches (5.0, 5.4, 5.4), and splitting the chimneys into two pitches: if you use the middle set of the three anchors in the chimney for your first belay (around 180'), you'll make it on top of the tower at about 190' or 195'. It's not as close as it sounds, although it makes for long sections of chimneying! We also trailed one backpack, without problem, on a double length sling from the second's harness, which made for extra work, but was best with all of our water and potential bivy clothes. ;)

Car to car in 13 hours, 10 hours of climbing, two hours of descent. No hangers on the bolts at pitch 11 anchors (we slung nuts), at pitch 10 anchors, one rusty hanger on a 1/2" bolt and one hangerless bolt (not much gear for anchor immediately right here). Also, the bolts on the 5.9 pitch are MANKY. Don't fall here.

Have a blast, and savor in the view at the top! JW
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Dr, Graftenburg

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
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   Mar 26, 2005 - 08:17pm
The descent was challenging but easy to follow in the daylight. At times we had to stop and our next visible cairn was 100 feet away, which makes me think that without a real headlight it might be damn near impossible in the dark. The wind on the ridge would also make it a very difficult place to bivy for the night. I also understand the "mystery cairns" - one just needs to go with the most obvious/enormous pile and ignore any other potentially "natural" cairns (I'm convinced that some of these are the result of rockfall) Descent shoes are another must, my feet would have been hurtin after 17 pitches in my mocasyms if I had to walk off in them...and negotiating that chimney with either shoes on your belt or a backpack makes for some serious good times. Great climb, Great beta, Thanks Chris!!!
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Josh Higgins

Trad climber
San Diego
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   Jan 29, 2003 - 05:04pm
The chimney's aren't as bad as people think. I know that it was much easier than I thought it would be. Many people complain about the last chimney pitch, but that one was pretty easy if you face the tower since there are actually HOLDS! I made it a goal, trained on some offwidths and chimneys, and my friend and I blitzed it in about 7 hrs. It's not as many pitches as it says. We did it in about 9 with two short simul climbs. Most people I've talked to have done it in about 9 pitches. 70m rope would help you link the last two chimney pitches, but that's about it. We used a 60m and linked quite a few pitches. don't bring anything larger than a #4 camalot. We had one of those, and a #10 metolious and those two protected all that I wanted in the chimneys!
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JG

Trad climber
San Diego
Apr 5, 2003 - 11:56pm
 
The chimneys are great with varied climbing (not just chimneying). My biggest piece was a 3.5 camelot which seemed fine with some back cleaning. Can be linked in 9-10 pitches.
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Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
sawatch choss
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   Apr 11, 2003 - 01:45pm
There's rap rings at every station, but I can't imagine rappelling 1800' of snag-prone chickenheads when the walk-off is so straightforward.

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esq

Trad climber
san francisco, ca
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   Apr 11, 2003 - 02:48pm
My partner and I did the route on 3/13/03. Using a set of 50m double 9mm ropes, we still managed to link two sets of pitches, above the tower, for a total of 14 or 15 pitches of climbing.

SuperTopo's approach, climbing, and descent times are pretty accurate. I believe it takes longer than an hour to descend, especially given the height of the route, and if you haven't done it before.

Our rack consisted of a double-set of Camelots up to #3, and one #4, a set of TCUs, a set of wired nuts, and a corresponding number of biners, short draws, full length runners, etc. We did not use our cordellete.

I highly recommend the route, but you don't want to bivy or descend in the dark. We did the route in 13 hours car-to-car, counting stops to eat and enjoy the view. We took 4 hours to get to the top of the tower, and another 5 to get to the top of the 18th pitch. Note, the bolt hangers on the top of the 18th pitch were missing, so we wound up setting an anchor above. Unrope and third class up and right on the ramp system, which reminds me of the Kat Walk on Middle Cathedral, but not as long.
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clustiere

Big Wall climber
san francisco, ca
Mar 23, 2004 - 02:16pm
 
Awesome route that can be done in ten pitches with a 60M rope.
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madmax

climber
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   Mar 16, 2004 - 01:48pm
Did this route on 3/13/04. Its as good as everyone says. We did the whole climb in 9 pitches on a 60 meter rope, with only a wee bit of simul-climbing to get to the top of the Black Tower (rather then set up a belay only thirty feet from the top). I brought a small rack (one #4, #3, #2, #1, and #.5 Camalots, a blue, a green, and a yellow alien, and a set of nuts), but I was glad to have the #4 Camalot. The descent takes almost two hours, not an hour as Swain says in his book. Although the descent is straighforward in the daylight, I certainly wouldn't want to do it in the dark.
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Matt M

Trad climber
Alamo City
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   Oct 28, 2003 - 06:06pm
Awesome - Climbed the route in about 7 hrs taking our time to enjoy the views down canyon at a few of the belays. The 5.4R scramble is the way to go as there's a nice ledge to launch off of as you head up the first pitch. Chimneys are great - if you're good at them. Gear to a #4 camalot is fine. One 60m rope is perfect. If you can - don't even haul a pack as it's a bitch in the chimneys! I thought the "Roxanna Brock" chimney pitch (the one with the bolts leading to the top of the tower) was the most exciting. At the top of the chimneys, keep going past the rap anchors to the top of the tower where the next set is located. Ridiculously good climbing ensues as you cruise the soaring dihedral towards the top. The top set of bolts above the roof are all missing hangers so a gear belay is needed. Nice big ledge though... We soloed the ramp to the top and actually thought the "3rd" class ledge traverse had more of a DFU factor than the ramp. The decent is straight forward following the cairns down along the ridge - definitely not something to be done in the dark though. You'd have to have the thing dialed and be running down to do it in an hour back to the car. It's pretty loose ala North Dome Gully. CTC in 10 hrs.
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Colt45

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
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   Dec 27, 2003 - 02:23pm
Climbed this on 12/22/03. What a wild route! I found the chimneys to be pretty difficult and intimidating (but then again I have little or no previous chimney experience.) I found a #4 camalot to be handy. We climbed the chimneys in two ~60m pitches. The first chimney pitch can be well protected with some back-cleaning, not so with the second pitch though! Falling in the chimneys would probably be a bad idea.

We broke with convention and hauled packs up the chimneys, because we wanted to bring a bit of extra clothes & gear since it was winter. This is not as difficult as people say if you're experienced in hauling. We had the leader fix the end of the rope at the station and haul the packs on the trail line with a tibloc, while the second self-belayed on the fixed line with a grigri, freeing the packs when they got stuck.

Once you're on top of the tower, the rest of the route FLIES by and is some of the most enjoyable climbing I have ever done. With moderate simuling, we did the whole route in 7 pitches.

Once it's dark out, the descent goes pretty slowly. Be sure to bring good headlamps!!
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TheHip

Trad climber
Squamish, BC
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   Nov 24, 2004 - 12:25am
I thought the chimneys were f*#king scary. Mind you, aside from my bedroom doorway as a kid, I have no chimney experience.

The top half of the climb is awesome and you feel extra good just to have those chimneys behind you. I want to go back with a bit of chimney experience (and some wide gear).

Took us 9 hours car to car. The topo's descent information is bang-on.

We climbed on a single 60m rope and hauled the packs in the chimneys by using the intermediate belays. I don't think it wasted too much time and the alternative was
certainly not very appealing. I couldn't imagine seconding those things with packs hanging from your harness.
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healyje

Trad climber
Squamish, BC
Dec 9, 2004 - 05:03am
 
We got in town Thu 11/18 and went up and scoped out the approach and the starting pitches and hit it Fri 11/19 and had it all to ourselves on a 60 degree sunny day. We did it with a single 60m, shoes on our harnesses, and Metolius "Big Wall Gear Slings" that have mini-packs built-in and we had water bladders and a power bar in those which worked out ideal:

http://www.metoliusclimbing.com/bigwallgearsl.htm

Approach: Once you drop into the riverbed on the approach, stay in it until you get to a 20' wall with a big pool of water at the base and a rope hanging down the wall. At that point you 3rd class up on the left (look for the path) and continue up the canyon along the upper creek bed. There is currently a fixed rope hanging down from a route to the right of Epinephrine and your can skip the first pitch by 3rd classing up from this point (we did). This 3rd class start is just a few feet west of the start of a big east facing dihedral route opposite Epinephrine in case the fixed ropes are gone. It goes up and left to a ledge system and then you want to rope up from an obvious 4' diameter well worn stance on the mid/left end of the ledge. You can't see the first bolt standing there, but it will be up there...

Chimneys: We thought the first supposedly easy pitch was the wierdest/hardest and the touted hard last pitch the easiest. The last pitch actually has solid pro with BallNutz if you wanted to bother.

Route Finding: We were still a bit confused as to whether to go left or right during the pitch above the tower - go right up the manky mini-Tower (you'll recognize it and it has a threaded 11m rope loop near it's base).

Descent: At the top of the vertical climbing angle up, back to the southwest - it isn't so much a "ramp" as described so much as a very rounded over, low angle arete. At the top of this you'll see a narrow, exposed "ledge/trail/path" going to the right(west) that takes you off the climb (we 3rd classed the ramp, but put a rope on for this ledge walk). From there go back up and left(east/southeast) up an obvious [real] ramp (with a big tree) so you end up over on to the back side of the east/west summit ridge. Head east (heading up at first) following cairns from that point and don't stop going east until you have essentially gone back to the entrance of the canyon but on top. Keep spotting cairns (they're there) and head down to the cars. If you go more than just a few minutes without a cairn, you probably need to backtrack. We added a couple of cairns the two times we backtracked on the lower half after it got dark - feel free to contribute - cairns are our friends. All in all my partner said next time he'd rap the route before doing the descent and we thought it was almost as big a challenge as the route.

Winter Ascents: You really have to be on the route at first light if you don't want to come down in the dark. The day after we climbed it (Sat.) four parties were on the route and all started late - three bailed at or slightly above the top of the tower and the high party kept going but probably did the last bit of the top and the entire descent in the dark and much, much colder conditions with it starting to rain as well. The morning after they got down highway 160 on the way up to BV had an inch of snow on it and BV was fully decked out in ice and snow.

Pics: http://spaces.msn.com/members/avasys
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vegastradguy

Trad climber
Las Vegas, NV
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   Mar 11, 2005 - 08:12pm
What an amazing route. Some general comments on the route:

1) start from the ground- its a couple of 5.8 moves to easy ground, then up to the base of the first chimney on one rope. There are two sets of bolts at the base- take the left set.

2) Although you can link the chimney pitches, its fairly strenuous to do so, so i would recommend linking the first one, then splitting the rest of the tower into two pitches. Also, keep an eye out for the stray bolt on the opposite side of the chimney from belay.

3) From the top of the tower, head up and right to the Elephant's Trunk (three giant stacked blocks off right). You can make it to the bolted stance from the top of the tower.

Come out, blast it, and enjoy it...its everything everyone touts it to be!

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deez nuts

climber
Zona
Mar 17, 2005 - 03:58pm
 
Climbed the route yesterday, what a great time.

Chimney's were easier than expected and protected really well (along with the rest of the route). Don't need anything larger that 4" and would double up on 3" and 2" pieces.

Note: The bolts at the end of pitches 10 & 11 (supertopo) are no longer there.
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deez nuts

climber
Zona
Mar 20, 2005 - 04:51pm
 
no, we finished on Wednesday @4pm, feel sorry for those who had to do the walk off in the dark
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clustiere

Trad climber
Zona
Mar 19, 2005 - 08:13pm
 
Was that you topping out in the dark on monday??
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LCannon

Trad climber
Las Vegas, NV
Mar 21, 2005 - 01:30pm
 
It was I who finished towards dark last Monday. Great day on a fun route. Added value with 40-50mph gusts. The wind noise was amplified by the chimney, and the acoustics made it sound deafening at points. A party on Sour Mash continued to the top of the wall, so 2 of 3 parties topped out in BV that day, with less than ideal conditions.

Descent comments:
If you know where you are going, it's one of the most casual descents at Red Rocks for a route of comparable length, and it goes rather quickly. You might place your hands on rock less than a dozen times on the whole descent. In nice weather, it's a pleasant walk down at night, and you can turn off your torch if the cloud cover is reflecting the lights of the city, or if you have a bright moon. If your party has some routefinding savvy and mountaineering sense, it could take less than 1.5hrs -even in the dark. But I would recommend a regular headlamp (not LED) if you think that you may be onsighting this descent in the dark. There are a bunch of sucker/mystery cairns. There are supposedly trails that lead to rappel slings. There are many accounts of nasty 12hr+ fully epic descents with dozens of rappels.

Getting a little more specific:
Follow the ridge down longer than you think, especially with an LED light. The left turn off of the ridge that I have always used is marked with around 5-6 cairns. This is definitely an easy walk-off, with a little loose soil and scree. If you only see one or two cairns with a trail dropping off the ridge, beware. Probably best to continue on the ridge to the big group of cairns, but it seems possible that there could be a more direct descent.
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healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Mar 21, 2005 - 04:02pm
 
Caveat to Non-Locals -

Not to pick bones here, but LCannon is a local and I assume well accustomed to the terrain and rock. But I can assure you the descent is in no way casual and we did the ridge and the first third of descent before it got dark with a halfmoon above a 50% cloud deck.

It is, however, imperative as LCannon and everyone else says, to stick with the ridge for longer than you would think - again, until you are basically out of the canyon, but on top. And do follow the cairns - not sure about the reference to "mystery" cairns as we didn't experience any problem using them to get down.

We did onsight it using a BD Xenix LED headlamp and it worked fine - my partner had a Petzl Halogen he picked up the day before but didn't put new batteries in and it ran out near the end of the descent and he had to stay close to me. That said, we only spotted some cairns using our combined headlamps.

Again, my apologies as I hate to differ with a local, but I simply can't agree with that characterization of the descent...
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deez nuts

climber
Zona
Mar 27, 2005 - 12:54pm
 
Thank you Dr Graftenburg
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retired

Trad climber
White Salmon WA.
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   Oct 4, 2005 - 05:05pm
I have some great Beata from the Duchess herself (Joanne Urioste) Rap the route for the descent instead of doing the miles of 4th class. Climbed it last week for my favorite climbergirl's 50th birthday and descended from the top of pitch 10 on supertopo (pitch 17 in Swains) . Joanne mistakenly told me pitch 11 but I found what she described at the top of 10 and pulled the plug because... There was only one bolt with an old smc hanger misssing half the plateing, a 1/4 stud without a hanger and a 1/2 hole without a bolt. Below that you have bomber rap anchors all the way down, at least two fatties. We made it in 9 raps. The anchor at the top of 10 would be easy to repair if you took some hardware. From the top of the Elephants Trunk you can rap straight down using an anchor out on the face. I wouldn't reccommend doing this if you had any parties below. We had no rope hangups but made sure to bring the knot down below any badness when possible. the chimneys seemed quite mellow this time up.
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vegastradguy

Trad climber
Las Vegas, NV
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   Oct 4, 2005 - 07:35pm
Please dont bring any hardware to fix the last bolted belay on this route- a natural anchor is easily built, and if you're that far up, you might as well top out. (the lone bolt on this ledge is a good one and is nice for keeping the rope running correctly while you belay)

More to the point, if you rap the route you dont climb the last two pitches of it, miss the ramp (which is excellently exposed and dramatic) and the pleasant and easy walkoff opposed to the rappels, which go down that famously flaked Red Rock sandstone- you couldnt pay me to do it.

Regardless of the reputation this thing has, if you get up top with daylight left and have decent routefinding skills, this descent is straightfoward and easy and takes about two hours at a leisurely pace.
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JohnDoe

Trad climber
Denver, CO
Oct 5, 2005 - 02:52pm
 
In response to this advice from vegastradguy: "Regardless of the reputation this thing has, if you get up top with daylight left and have decent routefinding skills, this descent is straightfoward and easy and takes about two hours at a leisurely pace."

Two hours at a leisurely pace I would totally agree with. Straightforward it is certainly NOT, unless you have good beta AND good route finding skills. Twelve years ago I was a young and upcoming gunho climber who had neither and had a major epic getting off this absolutely fantastic climb. Study the descent carefully . . . and beware.

And yes, I concur with vegastradguy about doing the top out. Scenic, cool, just as quick as the raps.

Climb Ohn. Wallman
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CanuckClimber

climber
Calgary, Ab
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   Nov 23, 2005 - 01:30pm
Climbed Epi on Nov 18/05. Somehow I came up with the stupid idea to rope-solo it. Fantastic route, the chimneys are quite unpleasant with the first being the worst and the last being the easiest but like the book says very airy. The face climbing is awesome and to echo people before, pitch 10 anchor (supertopo) has only one bolt and pitch 11 anchor has one bolt missing a hanger. I did the descent in the dark without the description and found it pretty straight forward, when you think you have gone far enough; keep going. I found were to start going down but got screwed up when I didnt traverse left to the Frogland descent. So go halfway down the slope and the traverse left (north I think) until you hit the large gully.
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bgswing14

Trad climber
Eugene, OR
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   Apr 1, 2006 - 09:16pm
We climbed this route on 03/30/2006 as a team of three. Had great weather, a bit cold with the wind but otherwise no complaints. The approach is best if you stick in the creek bed as long as possible. Takes about an hour. We used a doubles in red yellow green aliens, doubles in .75-3 and a 3.5 and 4 bd and a set of nuts. The chimneys were interesting as it was our first time every trying them. We ended up doing them in 4 pitches. The first one was short and easy. The next one was a bit awkward. The third chimney pitch turns into a bit of a squeeze before you pull over a bulge. The last chimney pitch was the hardest. It has two bolts on it and possibilites for extra gear, although most of it was mental protection. Once you get on top of the black tower the route is fairly straight forward but you still have a long way to go. We ended up topping out in the dark. Amazing climb. ENJOY!
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malabarista

Trad climber
Portland, OR
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   May 3, 2006 - 02:11pm
Believe it or not, I got off route on the first chimney pitch and had to downclimb and traverse to the start of the chimneys. I blindly headed for a set of bolts which are off to the left (these are for another route, apparently going up the face of the tower. Don't do this...
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Greg Barnes

climber
Apr 23, 2007 - 04:27pm
 
Last week Josh Thompson, John Wilder, & I replaced 7 bolts:

 both pro bolts on pitch 6 (pitch off the tower)
 both pro bolts on pitch 7 (above Elephant's Trunk)
 the first, second, and fourth bolts on pitch 8

The third bolt on pitch 8 is an original Urioste 3/8" with old SMC hanger, but neither are rusty (their original 3/8" bolts are grade 2 steel and easily broken). The fifth bolt shown in the Supertopo is a 1/4" missing its hanger, but a good small nut placement is nearby.

I missed an anchor on the right wall midway up the 5th pitch. If you're rapping after the chimneys, this is the anchor to use, since the anchor on top of the tower has one bolt with a rap ring and the other with nothing.

If you're rapping from the Elephant's Trunk or higher, rap 150' straight down the right side of the Elephant's Trunk to a bomber anchor on a ledge (the only real ledge, easily seen from above). The anchor itself is hard to spot from above. This is on "Ancient Future", described in Roxanna's guide. From that anchor, it's a clean 130' rap straight to belay 4.
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realnicemark

climber
Berkeley
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   Nov 18, 2007 - 10:27pm
Just a couple notes to go along with all the other excellent posts:
1) Blake Gleason and I had the route to ourselves on the Sunday of Veteran's Day, 2007. (Don't know how typical that is.)
2) We managed to climb it in ~6 hours, and we're only (Yosemite) 5.8 climbers.
3) The chimneys aren't nearly so run out as we feared based on the supertopo and this forum. In the second chimney I was able to climb the 5.6 version of the chimney, and still place enough pro to feel comfortable. (And again, we're not super climbers by any means.)
4) We found that (apologies to all for whom this is obvious) exertion level in the chimneys had a lot to do with leg-length. I, at 5'8" felt I could have a picnic, whereas Blake, at 6'2", thought it was a bit more fatiguing.
5) We caught the right descent off the ridge, but then found ourselves heading too far east too soon. (Fortunately this only resulted in one easy rap for us). Follow the supertopo advice of scouting the descent from the parking lot.
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Lucas

Trad climber
Goleta, CA
Nov 25, 2007 - 02:55am
 
We did the route this friday. We found that all the chimneys could be comfortably protected - in the second to last one, right after the alternate set of anchors, we avoided the 5.9 squeeze by going on the outside and out onto the face. There's a bolt to clip so it's not too run out. The last chimney is pretty run out, but as opposed to the previous ones feels extremely solid - no way to fall out of it.

Descent (we did most of it in the dark): once off the ridge, follow the cairns closely. If you go a while without seeing a cairn, retrace your steps. Took us 3 hours.

Great route!
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Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Sep 1, 2009 - 10:31am
 
trip report and video here
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=946109
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septikus

Trad climber
Bay Area, CA
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   May 1, 2014 - 02:46pm
Found gear hanging on a sling off the tree that marks the end of technical climbing at the top on Sunday April 27th. Please message me privately if it's yours (with description) and I'll get it back to you.

Cairns marked the descent quite well. Last anchor above the 5.9 roof is missing a bolt, but a gear anchor is easy to construct on the same ledge.
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orangekid

Trad climber
Poway, CA
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   May 13, 2014 - 12:41am
Did this climb 5/10/14.

Hardest part for my partner and I was in the second chimney just before the optional anchor. It gets tight enough to be uncomfortable if you're not familiar with good technique. Easy to protect though.

I dropped my car key from the top of the second chimney pitch, so if anyone finds a Subaru key at the base of the climb, or somewhere on it, shoot me a message.

Descent was rough, wind was insane, but there was another group that knew the way, and also gave us a lift into Vegas when we couldn't take our car (Can't thank you enough Nate!).

Great climb overall, most was in the shade. Highly recommended.
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Black Velvet Canyon - Epinephrine 5.9 - Red Rocks, Nevada USA. Click to Enlarge
Epinephrine ascends the ominous 600-foot-tall chimney.
Photo: Greg Barnes
Submit Beta on this Route
 
*What is "Route Beta"?
It's climber slang for information or tips on a route as in, "what's the beta on that route?" As a service to fellow climbers we ask SuperTopo guidebook users to post tips and updates to this website if they have relevant information to share after a climb.