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Routes in Black Velvet Wall

American Flesh Dance (Combination of The Flesh plus American Ghost Dance) T 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b PG13
Cutting Edge T 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a PG13
Dream of Wild Turkeys T 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Epinephrine T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Fiddler Roof, The T 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
Fiddler on the Roof T,S 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b
Gobbler, The T 5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Johnny Come Lately S 5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
My Little Pony T 5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a
Norepinephrine T 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
Overhanging Hangover T 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Prince of Darkness T,S 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
Refried Brains T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Rock Warrior T 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b R
Sandstone Samurai T 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c X
Smooth as Silk T 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b PG13
Sour Mash T 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Spark Plug T 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
Steel Monkey T 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b
Velveeta T 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c R
Yellow Brick Road T,S 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
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Type: Trad, 600 ft, 6 pitches
FA: Joanne and Jorge Urioste, July 1980
Page Views: 39,470 total · 197/month
Shared By: Orphaned on May 2, 2002
Admins: Larry DeAngelo, Justin Johnsen

You & This Route

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Access Issue: Red Rock RAIN AND WET ROCK: The sandstone is fragile and is very easily damaged when wet. Details


Sour Mash sits there smashed in between the fascination with Epinepherine and the bolt ridden Prince Of Darkness, yet features some of the best selection of moderate climbing in the canyon. It also features a mix of styles, between traditionally protected and well bolted pitches. The bolts tend to show up when the climbing is at it's toughest on the first and crux fifth pitch. That fifth pitch is some really fun and intricate climbing that is bound to make you smile. Most parties these days do six pitches and then rappel. You need to veer to the east onto the rappel for Fiddler On The Roof, including a heart-stopping drop over the big roof the route is named for. See Swain for topo and more info.


Buncha draws, good collection of gear from small to #3 Camalot. This is no sport route!


M. Morley
Sacramento, CA
M. Morley   Sacramento, CA  
26 bolts on the route were replaced October 2001. Mar 5, 2004
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
Red Rocks 10a- maybe would have been easier in other climbing areas. Maximum stars for certain. Having done about 20 routes back in Black velvet in the 1990's, I feel that I got a good sampling of what is there. I didn't get to this route on my first few trips, as none of the books I had or people who talked the area up had it high on the list of routes or had said it was a must do. But now, almost a decade after doing a lot of the routes there this one is still a standout. I've forgotten some of the details of the climb by now, but certainly remember the overall feeling of great climbing on good stone. This is certainly one of the better routes in the area. Mar 8, 2004
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
I enjoyed this climb a lot more than the nearby Prince of Darkness, I guess because there is a lot more variety to the moves. Mar 8, 2004
Max Schon
Max Schon  
Swain's guide mentions something about big gear (#3 Friend) for the belay after the first pitch. Not! There is much better smaller gear to make a belay. Nothing bigger then a single gold camalot is needed. May 13, 2004
As for the Gear beta, i was glad to have the #3 camalot. There is a great spot for it at the top of pitch 4. The pic below shows the placement right before the anchors, it is bomber. Great route, every pitch is memorable. Jan 19, 2005
John Wilder
Las Vegas, NV
John Wilder   Las Vegas, NV
good route, lots of varied climbing, good exposure, and the best part is that it hardly sees any traffic, so you dont have to worry about crowds.

rack to #2 is sufficient if you're a 5.10 leader...a #3 is just excess weight. If you're pushing it, a #3 is handy in a few spots...but all of the tough stuff is tightly bolted (sometimes too tightly...).

Thanks to the ASCA for the new bolts- they're nice to have. This is a great route and while it doesnt deserve to be overlooked, i'm glad it is because it keeps it open for those looking for a quiet day in an otherwise crowded canyon. May 20, 2006
Chief Rocker
Chief Rocker  
Great route! More varied than its neighbors to the far left. I used the Super Topo Guide and found that if using that route description you can combine pitches 2 & 3 or 3 & 4. Those pitches are all really short and you can save some time. I would suggest the combining of pitches 2 & 3 to give you a nice ledge to belay and eliminate some hanging belays. Also, the final pitch after the 10a lie back/ bolted crack pitch is a good pitch to finish. Don't end your day after the 10a lie back/ bolted crack pitch.
Good route! Get on it! Oct 2, 2006
Guy H.
Fort Collins CO
Guy H.   Fort Collins CO
A beautiful line with great rock. Leave the #3 on the ground, if 5.9 is not your limit. I think combining pitch 3 and 4 was the best pitch on the route. (~195ft)

It is too bad there are so many bolts right next to bomber gear placements. It takes a little of the adventure out of the route. Oct 29, 2006
John Wilder
Las Vegas, NV
John Wilder   Las Vegas, NV
great route, did it again yesterday.

Couple of thoughts for linking pitches.

if you have a 70m, you can do this route in 4 pitches (link 2/3, 4/5, 6/7). If you have a 60m, you can do it in 5 (link 2/3, 6/7).

if you link 6/7, bring lots of draws, and backclean bolts and gear when possible, otherwise you might come up short at the top of 7. Aug 3, 2008
Bobby Alvarez
Riverside, CA
Bobby Alvarez   Riverside, CA
I agree with everyone that a #3 is not needed, I took doubles from #1 down to green alien. I would recommend taking a couple small TCU's, there are lots of placement opportunities for them where nothing else will plug properly.

Super fun route, a definite must do!! Mar 30, 2009
Jon O'Brien
Jon O'Brien   Nevada
I agree, too tightly bolted... especially next to bomber prospective placements. Apr 21, 2009
Cory Harelson
Boise, ID
Cory Harelson   Boise, ID
Really fun route! We brought the #3 and placed it a couple times, but probably would have been fine without it. There are lots of bolts, and where there aren't, the route eats up as many small cams and nuts as you can throw at it. Seemed a tad harder than Dream of Wild Turkeys. Apr 27, 2009
Andy Laakmann
Bend, OR
Andy Laakmann   Bend, OR  
Repeated this route after a decade, and it remains my favorite on the wall. I brought the #3 camalot and placed it twice... including at the top of the long 5.9 pitch. The protection is generally excellent... the only caveat being the opening 5.8+ move. I managed to get a good HB offset, but it took some playing around and normal nuts didn't work so well. Perhaps a purple C3 would have worked, but I didn't have one. The long 5.9 pitch is the best on the route IMO. The gear is excellent, but increasingly thoughtful as you climb higher. The upper 5.10- pitches are fun and pretty chill.

The raps go quickly. We combined the last two pitches into a single rap (Supertopo breaks them up for some reason, but with twin 60s was fine). There is a bomber anchor now on the ledge below the long overhanging rap. Oct 5, 2009
Noted comments re: too many bolts or close to pro placements. My advice is skip the bolt & put in your own pro if you feel strongly about it. Nobody's holding a gun to your head and forcing you to clip a bolt just because it's there. Let's get control of our egos and climb for ourselves and leave others to do the same and enjoy the beauty of the route. This is a magnificent route with varied climbing and one of the first to have modern bolted rap anchors in the canyon making for fast, safe belay stations and raps. Thanks to those wise ones for the time, money and effort. A spectacular route! Mar 24, 2010
leeds, ut
fossana   leeds, ut
I didn't use anything above a #1 Camalot. Handren recommends doubles from 0.5" to 1.25", also an overkill. Fun route on great rock (among the best at RR). May 3, 2010
Tobin Sanson
San Rafael, CA
Tobin Sanson   San Rafael, CA
Incredible route. Stellar climbing throughout. A word of caution: there's a sort of death pillar/flake on the first pitch just before you begin up the "A" shaped corner. The thing freakin' shakes when holding on to the top. Please be careful! It's about 4'x8' and could easily take out a belayer or two, while sending you hurtling back to a ledge. That thing will NOT last long. I'd avoid it at all costs. I think you can sneak around the right side of it. Just try not to climb straight up the thing.

Tobin Oct 10, 2010
Rogers, KY
Fitz   Rogers, KY
Great route. Did it and Prince of Darkness late Oct 2010 with Ben Boyd. Strangely/Sadly enough my original Phoenix climbing partner, long time friend and poker buddy, John Rosholt was discovered(remains) atop a ledge about 100'+ feet above the top of this route. His remains were found about two weeks after our visit. He had been missing for five years. The last we all saw him was our weekly poker game at my house in Tempe, AZ; just before the Christmas holidays. He was off to Vegas for a short trip. Previous to my last recent visit, I had not been to Black Velvet Canyon for about eight years! It's all very sad. In the least, we can all have some closure. Rest In Peace John!! Keep on Climbing. We should all thank him for his huge climbing(routes..) contributions not only in this area, but many others over the course of his prolific 35+? year climbing career. Dec 11, 2010
Arch Richardson
Grand Junction
Arch Richardson   Grand Junction
Crucial placements for me were .4 to .6 inch cams on the 5.9 pitch. These are more useful (and much lighter) than 3" cams. Smallish wires also useful. (Rock climbing doesn't get any better than this...) May 7, 2011
Oakridge, OR
Ball   Oakridge, OR
What is UP with the bolts?

I skipped nearly all of them. The exception was the bolt on the arete and a couple I clipped right of the finger crack, mainly to save time.

Am I alone in saying this would be a better route without the bolts (except the one)? Mar 25, 2012
Broseph L
Salt Lake City, UT
Broseph L   Salt Lake City, UT
Definitely overbolted. Don't even bring your cams for the 6th pitch! Apr 3, 2012
Oakridge, OR
Ball   Oakridge, OR
Better yet, bring your pro and don't clip Apr 22, 2012
Patrick Mulligan
Reno, NV
Patrick Mulligan   Reno, NV
Am I the only one that thought leading through the first 10 feet of the 5.8 layback at the start was the mental crux of the route? Finally got on this and what a classic. Excellent. Apr 22, 2012
Peter Lewis
Bridgton, Maine
Peter Lewis   Bridgton, Maine
I agree with Patrick about the first pitch--slippery and insecure (I backed off it). The first two pitches are short and can be combined. The third pitch is long and it wanders (past a bolted station at its midpoint), so sling things accordingly. The upper hard pitches are more tecnhical and sustained than the upper pitches of Dream of Wild Turkeys. When we rapped we stopped at the weird intermediate bolted station halfway up the third pitch, then did a double-rope rappel from there straight down to a bush-and-tat anchor near the top of the white buttress below, and from there a single rap to the ground. This is way more straightforward than rapping all the way down P. 3 (which angles wildly) and then trying (and most likely failing) to pull your ropes from there. Astoundingly great route. May 21, 2012
Patrick Mulligan
Reno, NV
Patrick Mulligan   Reno, NV
Peter - I think the best way to rap this is to rap down the line of Fiddler On The Roof. The pulls are much cleaner and you have the pleasure of a 150' free hanging rappell off the roof. Sep 7, 2012
Mark Kroese
Clyde Hill, WA
Mark Kroese   Clyde Hill, WA
I did Sour Mash last week and would concur with most of what is written. A double set of cames from #1 Camalot down to .3 is great, with singles of really small stuff, and one Gold (#2) Camalot. If you bring a #3, you'll only use it once, to exit pitch 5. Not worth it IMHO. We combined pitches 1 and 2 into one, long 55 meter pitch. It's a good way to go. I thought the combined pitch 1-2 was the most challenging pitch, perhaps because I was not warmed up. The rest of the climb is very straightforward. Pitch six is steeper and a bit harder, but has many bolts and great gear. Pitch 7 is nice too. In fact, they are all nice. Best to rap straight down (not down and rappeller's right) and drop over the big roof. Excellent route. I thought it was easier than DOWT, although some disagree. Bottom line is that it's a must do! Nov 12, 2012
Flagstaff, AZ
JimmyK   Flagstaff, AZ
Completed the route in 4 sweet pitches with a 70 meter rope. Can rap the route in 3 long raps with 2 70m ropes. You will have to scramble down a bit on the last rap but not bad. Don't bring a #3. Apr 3, 2013
Dan Birman
Berlin, DE
Dan Birman   Berlin, DE
You can link Sour Mash into four pitches with 60m, climb to the tree, then climb to the excellent ledge (bolt anchor), then climb the center crack + left diagonal crack (bolt anchor), finish with both the 10a and 9+ (instead of bringing extra draws, just place gear, both pitches take gear and you can skip bolts easily). Jan 25, 2014
Las Vegas, Nevada
Likeasummerthursday   Las Vegas, Nevada
+1 for lieback moves off the deck as crux moves for the route. I fell off it twice. Perhaps it's most tricky, though, because it's the opening pitch. It takes gear, fine, though. If you make some delicate moves at the start you can get a good #1 before the first lieback moves. An orange TCU was great before the second lieback moves. This route is phenomenal. Super varied climbing on superb rock! Oct 4, 2014
Squamish, BC
Hans   Squamish, BC
Nice route with fun and varied climbing. Brought a BD2 and 3 and placed neither. I happily clipped all the bolts, but I see why there might be complaints. I thought it ended in a weird spot. Why stop there? Mar 9, 2015
Simon W
Nowhere Land
Simon W   Nowhere Land
I had some Sour Mash the other day, and it was excellent! It's an interesting climb because of its variety, and lack of any bad pitches.

I agree with the comments about leaving the #3, and I'm not an overly bold leader. I brought 2 C3s and a couple X4s, which wasn't entirely necessary, but I was able to place some of them right near the obvious #3 placement at the top of the 5th pitch.

Here's a quick pitch by pitch because there is a lot of mixed information on here. This is based on the HANDREN book... The short version of this is that old beta combines P1 & 2 as one pitch, Handren has his first pitch ending in a weird (but comfortable) spot because there is a rap anchor there. It really makes more sense to call it 6 pitches but hard to get rid of the extra pitch once it's in the equation!

Handren "P1" - Starts with about 50' of scrambling up low angle slabby ledges to get to a lieback crack (5.8) follow this to the base of a triangle feature. There is a rap anchor here which was added after the FA of Sour Mash. Although it's a nice ledge, this is a pointless belay as a 60 will make it to the next anchor no problem.

P2 - Climb the right side of the triangle and then move left onto the face when the bolts show up. Gear anchor at a shrubby tree. This is where you should end your first pitch unless you're climbing on a ridiculously short rope. This belay is about 175' from the ground.

P3 - Climb up and right to a roof, and look right for a right slanting crack after the roof. Follow this crack up and right for quite a ways, look for a flat ledge with a right facing corner and a bolt protecting the moves getting to a niice higher ledge (~12' up) with a bolted belay. If you arrived at a spinning ring shaped bolt, you're in My Little Pony territory.

P4 - Short pitch. Climb a steep crack straight up to a heinous (bolted) hanging belay, about 60' up. This pitch can be linked into P3, but I'm not clear if a 70M is required. Very curious on if this will go with 60s, because no matter what this hanging belay can't be avoided, so there is no real benefit to belaying at the ledge below.

P5 - The money gear pitch. Follow the middle of three parallel cracks with good gear and no bolts for 100' and some change. Another bolted hanging belay.

P6 & 7 - Awesome and interesting climbing with lots of bolts. A few spots where gear is nice too. Linking these two pitches comes out to about 180' and with back cleaning I used about 8 or 9 draws on it. Runner gear well at the top of the 6th pitch because there is a roof there.

We used twin 60s and it was 5 raps (4 double, 1 single) to the ground rapping Fiddler. Trend left on the first rap to get on Fiddler. Then two more raps to the top of the roof. One looong rap over the roof and to where Handren P1 ends. One single rope rap on a 60M back to your pack from there. Apr 23, 2015
Climbed this awesome route with Xavier today. We managed to get to the top in 5 pitches, although would have easily been 4 if we had a few more slings/back-cleaned some (to link Handren 6/7). We climbed with twin 60s. That being said, it is POSSIBLE to do this route in 4 pitches with 60m ropes, IF they are not cut short. Linking Handren 4/5 with a 60 just barely worked----rope stretcher, for sure. If your ropes are a bit <60 you may have to simul a tiny bit, but it is easy ground for the seconder, so shouldn't be a problem.

All in all, following Handren, we climbed 1/2, 3, 4/5, 6, 7. Handren 6 seemed to be the most difficult pitch, and probably the most memorable. Climbing up to the cool fanged flake via the crack/corner was a trip, and FUN!

Anyway, AMAZING route. Would climb it again in a heartbeat. Aug 29, 2015
Jason Albino
San Francisco, CA
Jason Albino   San Francisco, CA
Followed Simon W's nice pitch-by-pitch right up on our ascent today, and what a great climb!

Per his description, we ended up climbing on one 70m rope as follows:
P1-2 link
P4-5 link
P6-7 link

for a total of 4 full-value pitches!

Thought the cruxes were the bolted face area on P1, and the sustained edging and definitive hand/finger-jam crux on P6-7. Oct 21, 2015
Alexander Stathis
Athens, GA
Alexander Stathis   Athens, GA
Great route! We opted to skip the last pitch as we were running out of time. Followed Simon W's description:

Linked P1-P2. Built a gear anchor at the tree.


Linked P4-P5: this was very close on a 60m rope. My belayer had to climb up about 5-10 ft so I could clip the anchors. It might have been okay if I had protected differently, but it would have been close.

P6 and rapped down to Fiddler.

Pitches 3 and 6 were by far my favorites. Enjoy! Mar 1, 2016
Simuled this route today, didn't clip a single bolt. Apr 17, 2017
John Wilder
Las Vegas, NV
John Wilder   Las Vegas, NV
As of 9/15/17, all anchors on the rappel route (Fiddler) are solid 1/2" stainless bolts with stainless links and rings.

Ps- the first party up after 9/15 will be rewarded with a free carabiner on the last bolt of the 5th pitch (we used that bolt to swing over to Fiddler to begin replacement work). Sep 15, 2017
Scott E
Scott E  
Pitch 1 and 2 are solid for the grade by Red Rocks standards Apr 3, 2018
Sean Cooney
Sean Cooney  
Did it this past Sunday with great weather, a nice breeze, and absolutely no one else in the canyon. I guess the locals took off over the Labor Day weekend and the visitors stayed away because of the forecast high of 104 in Las Vegas. Awesome climb and slightly eerie (but great) to have Black Velvet Canyon all to ourselves.

We did in five pitches, linking P2+3 and 3+4. I would have linked P5+6 if I'd know how much easier P6 was. Lesson learned.

I agree this route is on the tougher side of 10a for Red Rocks. Compared to Dream of Wild Turkeys, Sour Mash is far more sustained and technically difficult. P3+4 was the psychological crux for me, with a few less secure moves about 150 feet in right before the mini-traverse left. All-in-all, the pro is good, the climbing better, and well worth the ascent. Sep 4, 2018

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