Black Velvet Wall, Black Velvet Canyon
About the Climb
With only 3 pitches, The Gobbler is a short but superb and sustained route. It is a nice, varied and interesting route on it's own, but it's usually done as a direct start variation to Dream of Wild Turkeys (5.10a). It also makes a good combo with other shorter routes on Black Velvet wall or as a 3 pitch addition at the end of the day. The Gobbler got its name from the rope-eating crack on the second pitch. Don't get gobbled!
The sun exposure on the Black Velvet Wall depends strongly on the time of year. In early or late season, you can be in the shade all day, so be ready for cold temps. However, it can be sunny during the summer months. On a hot day, start early or, if you can climb fast, late in the arfternoon.
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.
The most logical combination is to continue up on Dream of Wild Turkeys (5.10a). For a great combo, climb for another 4 pitches on Dream of Wild Turkeys, and rappel down from there. If you want more adventure, you can climb all the way to the top of Black Velvet peak. This involves 7 more good pitches after the Gobbler, followed by several hundred feet of low 5th class climbing. From the top of Black Velvet peak it takes about 1-2 hours to walk back down (same descent as for Epinephrine ).
The Black Velvet Wall has many other great routes that can be combined with the Gobbler. The most similar in grade and climbing is Sour Mash (5.10a), which is located on the right side of the arch. Sour Mash has 7 pitches, so combined with the Gobbler it will provide a full day of excellent climbing. If you are looking for something a bit shorter, try Refried Brains (5.9). Although Refried Brains goes to the top of the wall, most climbers only climb the first 4 and best pitches, and then rap down. The 3rd pitch is the best, so if you are pressed for time, you can only do the first 3 pitches.
If you are for looking for something harder, try the ever popular Prince of Darkness (5.10c) before or after the Gobbler. The Prince of Darkness is a steep face climb on good edges, but all belays are hanging.
A little further up canyon lies another excellent route, Sick for Toys (5.10d), with a stellar mix of slab, bolts and thin cracks. Try this one and you won't be disapointed!
Most of the routes on the Black Velvet wall offer similar climbing, so if you like the Gobbler, try any of the following classics: Sour Mash (5.10a), Dream of Wild Turkeys (5.10a), Yellow Brick Road (5.10b) (variation of Dream of Wild Turkeys), or Prince of Darkness (5.10c).
Outside Black Velvet Canyon, you can try Unimpeachable Groping 5.10b/c for sustained face climbing on edges.
If you like the small chimney section on The Gobbler, and want a little more chimney climbing you should try Beulah's Book (5.9). For a lot more chimney climbing and some real airy chimneys, you should go for Epinephrine (5.9).