Trip Report    

Epinephrine - Black Velvet Wall - Red Rocks Canyon

13 - 16 pitch 5.9 Grade IV rock climb of one of the most renown routes in Red Rocks. Slab pitch start, three pitches of sustained chimney, crack and fun face climbing make it a must do in the Red Rocks area.

  • Thu, Oct 29, 2020
  • Red Rock Canyon
  • Climbing
  • Successful
  • Road rough but passable
    • Road to Black Velvet Canyon is passable with a Subaru Impreza up to the last 0.1 mile in which we just parked in a pullout to the side.
    • Approach is fairly straightforward. Follow the creek bed before seeing a trail to the  left and up some class 3-4 rock when the canyon narrows. 
    • All anchors except the end of the last 5.9 pitch are bolted. Take care not to be on an anchor to the start of another route
    • Chimney's are well protected besides the last chimney which has two bolts with easier chimneying. 
    • We took singles from BD Size 0.1 - 0.5 and a 4. Doubled up on 0.75 to 3.  Rack of nuts. A 5 can also be placed in the chimney. 
    • We took another 60m rope in case we needed to bail. We also used it to haul the backpack up the chimneys so that the follower didn't have to carry it with them up the chimney. 
    • The route is in the shade for most of the day. When we climbed it was 40F in the parking lots but fairly warm on route. 
    • Descent off of Black Velvet Peak can be confusing for those new, while it's well cairned, one can easily turn off into the wrong canyon. We downloaded gpx tracks from Steph Abegg's website which helped and is essential if doing the descent in the dark. 
  • 45 minutes for approach
  • 8.5 hrs to the top of Black Velvet Peak (or 34 minutes free solo if you're Alex Honnold who climbed it the day before us)
  • 1:45 minutes descent


Epinephrine is one of the most classic rock climbs in Red Rocks, an area known for a lot of moderate rock climbing. This route was on AJ and I's todo list when we arrived in Las Vegas for the month of October although neither of us knew if we were up for it. The crux of the route are the three 5.9 chimney pitches. We tailored a lot of our climbing in Red Rock Canyon to prepare for this climb. 

Climbs that helped prepare for Epinephrine:


Plumber's Crack. photo credits to AJ Klatt

  • Beulah’s Book (5.9, 3p): great chimney practice
  • Plumber Crack (V0 R): great boulder to practice head game with a squeeze chimney beginning
  • Dark Shadows (5.8, 12p): getting used to the rock, working on multipitch efficiency
  • Ginger Crack (5.9, 8p): practice for the 5.9 pitches 

Helpful websites:

What also helped was that we climbed the first 4 pitches on the day we climbed Frogland (5.8 6p) to familiarize ourselves with the approach and descent. Also did 2 minute wall sits but then again with climbing, technique triumphs physical strength. 


After reading up on a lot of people having to epic due to slow climbers or conga lines. We decided to try to be the first on route. We left the parking lots at 5:09 am. Got to the base as the first party and started climbing in the dark at 6. It helped to have rehearsed the route before as you could hardly see the bolts even with head lamps. Linked pitch 1 and 2 and AJ led the first chimney pitch. Don't be like me and go into the squeeze chimney on the prior attempt. 


Contemplating life in a squeeze chimney


Looking above to the chimney pitches


Looking down the third chimney pitch

I led the second and third chimney. They were pretty fun although the exit of the second chimney required some awkward off width techniques. We got to the top of Black Tower around 10:30 and stopped to take a snack break. From here AJ followed the line of chalk and almost went to the Original Route, make sure to check your guidebook and go on top of the Elephant Trunk to stay on route


Elephant's Trunk. Bolted Anchors above my head

The next several pitches of 5.9 and 5.7 are very enjoyable. Typical Red Rocks rock which consists of fun face climbing, crack climbing with features for foot holds. The route follows a crack system so route finding was pretty straightforward. When the route does go on a face with bolts. Chalked handholds can help to lead the way. Watch for spinning bolts though. 


Enjoying the upper pitches. Note the climbers on the top right who are climbing other classics (Dream of Wild Turkey)

As with all things. Fun things have to end and we finished the last pitch of technical climbing. We simuled the class 3/4 ramp and pitched out the last 5.4 step to get to the infamous pine tree. 


Last 5.4 ramp to the summit ridge

Easy walk to the summit provided with good views of Las Vegas and the surrounding valleys.  Really happy to have climbed Epinephrine as the last multipitch of our Red Rocks trip. Thanks to AJ for being a strong partner sharing the same goals. 


Las Vegas and surrounding mountains at the top of Black Velvet Peak

Descent was straightforward and the party that was behind us for most of the route finally passed us.  

 Note: Starting November 1, Red Rocks Scenic Loop (separate from Black Velvet Canyon Parking Lot) will require reservations to enter the loop past 8am. So if you're entering at the crack of dawn like most climbers you will be okay but just an FYI.