Black Velvet Wall, Black Velvet Canyon
About the Climb
Epinephrine might be the best 5.9 multi-pitch route in the country and shouldn't be missed by the solid 5.9 climbers. This climb has it all: stellar, varied and exposed climbing on solid rock, comfortable belay ledges, and a natural line leading up to a high summit with stunning views. Even though Epinephrine is not very sustained for the grade, it is a serious and demanding climb, with more than 2000' of climbing and shouldn't be underestimated.
The highlight of Epinephrine is an imposing, slick and continuous chimney system that provides the crux of the climb. The chimney pitches are long, intimidating and airy, and require a wide range of technique. Once above the chimneys, the route takes you up superb face climbing sections, only to be followed by a long, beautiful and enjoyable corner system that seems to go on forever. Finally, the route exits on a long and low angle ramp traverse, depositing you just below the summit of Black Velvet Peak. To finish it off, the walk-off descent takes about 1.5 to 2 hours.
Although it is possible to make double rope rappels down from any anchor up to belay 9, it is well worth the effort to keep going up to the top of Epinephrine and enjoy the full magnitude of this amazing climb. The route gets very little sun and can be climbed relatively fast by efficient and experienced parties. It is a very popular outing, so it's a good idea to have a backup plan in case you arrive a little too late and get stuck behind slow parties. Luckily, Black Velvet Canyon offers many other great options.
Black Velvet Canyon is located outside the Scenic Drive area and this means that you don't need to pay the entrance fee and there's no late parking problems. It is accessed by a dirt road that can be a little rough in places. A 4WD is not really needed, but it helps. A 2WD will make it, but extra clearance makes it easier. Be especially careful after big rain storms.
From the SR 159 and SR 160 intersection, go west for 4.7 miles. Look for a dirt pull-out and road on your right. Zero your counter when leaving SR 160. You'll pass a large gravel parking on the left, and the road will turn to dirt. Keep going on this. After 1.1 mile you'll see a fork, but keep going straight. The driving 'crux' is at about 1.5 mile. After 1.8 miles, a gate will be blocking the road and you must go left. Continue on this for another 0.4 mile, where several parking options exist. Note that camping is not allowed here and violators will get a ticket.
It is possible to combine Epinephrine with other routes in Black Velvet canyon if you choose to only climb a few pitches and rap down, but it's best to keep going all the way to the top, especially if it's your first time on the route. If you decide to only climb the bottom of Epinephrine, please climb your other route in the morning and then go climb the bottom of Epinephrine in the afternoon, when the parties going to the top are out of the way.
A very good option for such a combination is located just a little further up canyon. Sick for Toys (5.10d), is a stellar mix of slab, bolts and thin cracks, and gets a lot of shade. It's well protected and we guarantee that you won't be disapointed.
The Black Velvet Wall has many other quality climbs to fill your day. Almost all the routes have bolted belays, so you can retreat when you run out of steam or daylight. Quality routes you should check out are: Refried Brains (5.9), The Gobbler (5.10a), Sour Mash (5.10a), Dream of Wild Turkeys (5.10a), and Prince of Darkness (5.10c).
No other routes in Red Rocks offers such a great mix of chimney , face and crack climbing. But for a similar route in grade and length, climb Dream of Wild Turkeys (5.10a) to the top of Black Velvet Peak. It's also possible to do Prince of Darkness (5.10c) and finish on the upper pitches of Dream of Wild Turkeys.