Black Orpheus, Black Orpheus Wall 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.

Oak Creek Canyon is at the very end of the loop road. Because of this, you can also park at the old Oak Creek Campground along the main highway and avoid the hassle of the Loop Road, at the price of an extra 20-30 minute hike in each direction.

Black Orpheus is around the corner from Solar Slab, but the boulder-strewn canyon bottom and the long 3rd and 4th class approach takes about 2 hours. Hike past Solar Slab, then drop into the canyon bottom. Hike up the canyon for about 1/4 mile, looking for a cairn on top of a white boulder on the right. Black Orpheus starts well above the canyon floor after a series of slabs and bushy areas and is not obvious from the bottom of the canyon, so examine the SuperTopo picture to help you determine where to head up. The pile of rocks on the white boulder is just as the canyon bottom takes a vague curve to the left, and is well before the split in the canyon. Depending on exactly where you go up, you must negotiate usually at least one 4th class band of 40-foot cliffs, and some may want to rope up for these sections.

Once you reach the wall, Black Orpheus begins in the largest left-facing dihedral; to the left is slick polished rock and some bushes 40 feet up on a ledge.

Four descents are possible. Most people use one of the two Upper Painted Bowl descents, but you can also downclimb to the rappels for Solar Slab, or rap the long Upper Solar Slab Gully. We only describe the Upper Painted Bowl descents here; the Solar Slab descents should not be used unless familiar with them, and even then they often have other parties clogging them. None of these descents should be attempted in the dark without someone who knows the descent. It is far better to scramble up to wide flat ledges with bushes and bivy for the night.

Black Orpheus Wall - Black Orpheus 5.10a - Red Rocks, Nevada USA. Click to Enlarge
Black Orpheus ascends a break in a huge overhung headwall via a cleanly fractured dihedral.
Photo: Greg Barnes