Whiskey Peak, Black Velvet Canyon
About the Climb
Frogland is an excellent and popular moderate classic in the beautiful Black Velvet Canyon. The climbing is varied, fun and interesting from start to finish, and includes some great face and crack climbing, and nice squeeze moves below a huge chockstone.
With the scenery of Black Velvet Canyon and an easy approach, Frogland makes for an amazing day out. Get up early if you want to avoid the crowds or start later in the afternoon. There are many variations on Frogland, so there are enough options to pass other parties if needed.
From the top of Frogland, you have a great view of the Black Velvet Wall and Black Velvet Peak. If you plan on climbing classics such as Dream of Wild Turkeys (5.10a) or Epinephrine (5.9) all the way to the summit of Black Velvet Peak, it is useful to scout out the descent route from the top of Frogland. The last last part of descent for these routes follows the descent of Frogland.
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.
There are several other short routes on Wiskey Peak, but most are harder (5.10a and up). Most routes are a bit further up the caynon; Wholesome Fullback (5.10a), Triassic Sands (5.10c), and Our Father (5.10d). Climbing these routes, rapping down, and climbing Frogland afterwards is a good combination.
Alternatively, you can start the day with a short route on the Black Velvet Wall, and climb Frogland in the afternoon. Refried Brains (5.9) is a nice 4 pitch route and is soft for the grade. The Gobbler (5.10a) is an awesome 3 pitch climb, with sustained 5.9/5.10a climbing. The other classic routes on the Black Velvet Wall are longer, but all have bolted belays so you can always climb a few pitches and rap back down: Sour Mash (5.10a), Dream of Wild Turkeys (5.10a), or Prince of Darkness (5.10c).
Classic moderate climbs with varied climbing like Frogland are rare. A relatively new route with equally great climbing is Purblind Pillar (5.8). This is a newer route so it's usually not crowded. It has a wide crack section, but don't let that scare you, it's really good.
Crimson Chrysalis (5.8) is similar in grade and length. However, it is less varied and more sustained. Crimson Chrysalis is even more popular than Frogland, so plan accordingly. Ginger Cracks (5.9) is also a great route, mostly 5.8 and easier, but with a very short bolt-protected 5.9 crux. However, the climbing is also less varied than on Frogland.
If you are up for a longer and more challenging route, go for Frigid Air Buttress (5.9+). The climbing is very varied for 9 pitches, with a big ledge at every belay. The 5.9+ finger crack crux comes at you on the last pitch, so save some finger strength. The rappel route is almost as interesting as the climb, so you can't relax until you have reached terra firma again.