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Black Orpheus Amphitheater
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Tuscarora T 


YDS: 5.12 French: 7b+ Ewbanks: 27 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 26 British: E6 6b

Type:  Trad, 4 pitches, 450'
Consensus:  YDS: 5.12 French: 7b+ Ewbanks: 27 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 26 British: E6 6b [details]
FA: Tom Cecil, John Barnes, John Rosholt – 1995.
Page Views: 816
Submitted By: Josh Janes on Feb 10, 2012

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Chris Barlow and partner??

RAIN AND WET ROCK The sandstone in Red Rocks is fragile and is very easily damaged when it is wet. MORE INFO >>>


Tuscarora is a brilliant route that climbs the left side of the huge brown buttress separating the Black Arch Wall from the walls containing Black Orpheus. The route takes a system of corners through a large roof and then tackles a very difficult finger crack. It is south facing and offers nice, sunny climbing – perfect for a clear winter day. Approach as for Black Orpheus, but head left across the slabs (may require some exposed easy 5th class) and away from Black Orpheus to reach an indistinct weakness below the left side of the towering buttress above. You may arrive at a small, body-sized cave that is just left of the line and just to the right of a narrow ridge of rock that separates the Black Orpheus side of the amphitheater from the There and Back Again side. About 20' below this cave is a nice ledge and a single bolt which is a good place to begin.

P1: Depending on where you start, begin climbing up a corner and onto broken rock, working out left then back right underneath a steep wall, then continue just right of a vegetated right-facing corner to a nice ledge with a bolted anchor. 5.5-5.8.

P2: Climb up interesting features passing two bolts to a bolted anchor on a sloping ledge directly below the large roof. 5.10b, 100’.

P3: Pass the roof via jamming, stems, and underclings – good pro and bolts protect. Belay at a bolted anchor. A wild, awesome, and exposed pitch. 5.11, 100’.

P4: Step right from the belay and climb friable rock before moving back left and continuing up interesting face features, ultimately arriving at a stance at the base of a very thin crack. This crack, which is slightly overhanging and tips-sized, is the crux. Difficult for the grade, (smaller fingers will have an easier go of it, but be prepared for pain) this ain’t no Rainbow Wall 5.12. Some hollow rock but great movement and position. Small cams and a few bolts protect as the difficulty eases slightly on the way to a bolted anchor in the middle of outer space. Yowsers! 5.12c, 100’.

Rap the route with a single 70m cord.


1 each black Alien/00 Tcu to #2 Camalot. Extra red C3's (0.3 Camalots and green Aliens are just a little too big where you want them). Wires. Draws. One 70m rope.

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By Josh Janes
Dec 14, 2013

Tried this again today. Really hard for my fingers and I'm generally pretty good at this size... feels 12c. Painful.
By Christopher Barlow
Mar 22, 2014
rating: 5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b

Yes, excellent route. The only drawback is, like Cloud Tower and others here, that it ends in the middle of nowhere - just a random ledge. If it were to climb one more steep face pitch to the top of the buttress (which I think it could with a lot of bolts and some creativity), it'd be a totally world-class hard rock climb.

The crux is very hard, but the difficulty is pretty condensed. The route felt to me like sustained 5.10, a few sections on pitches 3 and 4 of 5.11, and a 7-move V5/6. I found it challenging to get the gear placed well from the stance below the hard moves.

Maybe we did something wrong, but we did a full pitch of easy 5th, 5.5 maybe, to get to the cave and start of the "1st pitch." Likewise, rapping the route itself was easy, but we left a cordelette around a rock thread and used a tag line to make a full 55m rappel back to ground flat enough to scramble. I'm usually pretty confident on exposed terrain, but I wouldn't have wanted to be wandering around too much above the major terrace system that is about even with the start of Black Orpheus.

Thanks for posting, Josh. This thing is great climbing in a wild position.
By Josh Janes
Mar 22, 2014

Chris, here's the deal with the approach/deproach: There is a narrow foot ledge that leads west across the wall and is only 4th class, but very exposed. It ends at the cave. You must have come up from below more directly. To retreat, you can reverse this traverse, but about 20' below the cave is a single bolt from which you can rappel: A 35 meter rap leaves you at a point where you can just begin scrambling easily down the slab.

Glad you liked the climb and I agree, it does sadly finish right in the middle of nowhere. I've eyed those face holds leading up from the belay, but kinda concluded that the "creativity" required to continue the line free would involve something sinister. However, Cloud Tower does top out - and if you haven't done the rad 5.10 OW pitch above the normal stopping point, you're missing out!

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