Type: Trad, Sport, 700 ft, 6 pitches, Grade III
FA: Urioste
Page Views: 42,385 total · 234/month
Shared By: TBD on Mar 14, 2004
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


Approach as for Dream of Wild Turkeys, the first pitch is shared with this climb.

Prince of Darkness ascends straight up the center of Black Velvet Wall. From the ground, 5.10 climbing seems improbable up this blank looking face. Once on the rock, positive edges abound.

Pitch 1: 5.6 Start up the right facing shallow corners to the crack above. Place some gear or solo to the anchors.

Pitch 2: 5.10b From the bolted anchors, climb straight up the face past many bolts. Mostly positive edges with a few balancy moves and slopers. End at the bolted anchors.

Pitch 3: 5.10a From the bolted anchors, climb straight up past even more bolts and positive edges, with a few pieces of gear in the crack down low. End at the bolted anchors.

Pitch 4: 5.9 Similar to the previous 10a pitch, but slightly easier.

Pitch 5: 5.9 The climbing starts to become more slabby, with a few longer runouts between bolts. This pitch ends at the belay for the final crux pitch.

Pitch 6: 5.10c The crux of the climb is right off the belay past the first 2 bolts. The rock is remarkably different as the positive edges have given way to a slick slab with a thin, shallow crack. Fire up the crack on thin holds and smears. Be aware that it is difficult to the first bolt and it is possible to smack into your belayer if you fall. Edges reappear and the climbing eases off to the final anchor at an excellent ledge, which is quite welcome because all of the previous belays have been hanging.

Descent: 2 ropes are required. You can rap the route or the adjacent Yellow Brick Road. It is also possible to finish up Dream of Wild Turkeys and walk off.

I overheard a local call the Prince of Darkness the "Prince of Footpain" He was right on that accord. The climbing isn't the most comfortable with the continuous edging, and all the hanging belays are tiring. However, he also said the climbing wasn't that good and was monotonous. I disagree, I think it is fabulously continuous, with great position and great protection. The blank looking face offers a truly unique experience for a 5.10 climb.

Overall, I felt the climbing was of continuous difficulty after the first pitch, all in the 5.10- range. I felt little difference in the grades of the various pitches until the crux moves. The crux moves are definitely in your face. Enjoy!


15+ draws, some smaller cams (green, yellow, red, orange aliens, or similar) and/ or med nuts.
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
A butt bag is a useful item to have on this route for all the hanging belays, unless you are comfortable hanging in your harness for half-hour periods. I'm glad I did the route but did find it somewhat painful and monotonous. The position is fantastic, though, and the wall seems too steep to be free climbable, but tiny edges abound. Worth doing - once! Mar 23, 2004
Joe Collins  
Most overrated "classic" in North America? High step, crimp, high step, crimp... repeat for 400ft until an interesting, slabby crux on the last pitch.

Calling this route popular would be an understatement. The bolts are very close together, thus the route attracts many parties with marginal experience... expect much waiting and clusterf**ks. I once showed up to do this climb early on a spring weekend and discovered 4 parties waiting at the base with another already on the route. I agree with George: worth doing once. Mar 23, 2004
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
The funny thing is Rock Warrior is probably similar to this route (althouhg I've not done it), except for the much less frequent bolts. You don't hear anybody complaining that Rock Warrior is monontonous or painful! I guess when you're led out 30 feet that's the least of your worries. Just goes to show that less frequent pro can make for a totally different climb. Mar 24, 2004
Josh Janes    
I think Joe Collins described this climb exactly as I'd describe it: a memorable crux on the final pitch with just a blur in my mind for the 5 pitches leading up to it. I also think that George makes an excellent point! One of my partners docks climbs stars when they have poor pro, but I kinda wonder what Prince of Darkness would have been like for me with half the bolts... maybe not a better climb, but it definately would have engaged the senses (other than "OW! My toes hurt!") a bit. Sep 15, 2004
L. Hamilton
L. Hamilton  
Josh's comments hit the mark -- I too mostly recall the sketchy crux move, and otherwise that my toes hurt. It would be a better and less crowded route with fewer bolts. Sep 18, 2004
We used a medium sized nut to protect the final pitch. Placed it only about 6 inches below the bolt but it could be placed before beginning to climb and it is mildly reasuring in that one is less likely to fall on the belayer. Not entirely necessary but a suggestion. Nov 29, 2004
Really fun and cool and safe - although I did this line back when it was all quarter-inch bolts.

I did it with a wicked hangover and a nose full of lingering stripper perfume.Thought I might hurl but overall I think it added to the ambiance. Dec 3, 2004
Tim Baguley
Tim Baguley  
I'm not sure the crux is really a 5.10c - at least not by Red Rock standards. I'd lean more towards a 5.11 rating. Bring some small wires to aid up on if you're not strong on small finger cracks & glass-smooth slab smearing. The rest of the route is sustained crimpy moves over and over and over and over... Not a very comfortable route (read: quite painful), but it's an area classic and a definite must-do! Feb 1, 2006
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
I did it in 1995 and it was mellow. I did it in 2003 or 2004 and it was hard and polished. No more than a few hours after telling my partner that Red Rocks was all over graded...
I think that the 10c grade was right for it before it became so popular and polished, in red rocks grades. Now I suspect you are largely correct. Now it's a REAL 10c, which is to say... Red Rocks 5.11.
I'm not ragging on Red Rocks, I love the place. I'm just saying that the grades are typically soft. Feb 2, 2006
Casey Jones
Seattle, WA
Casey Jones   Seattle, WA
My first (and a friend's) multipitch climbing experience back in the early summer of 2004. Great experience, though I agree that the route was a bit monotonous with the crimping and the pain in the toes. Used a couple medium sized nuts on the 3rd (or 4th pitch?). Seeing how the 6th pitch started was a shock!, but we managed to finish the route. I agree with previous posts; great to do once! Feb 8, 2006
mark chytka
laramie wy
mark chytka   laramie wy
high step crimp for 700 feet up a bolt ladder Apr 20, 2006
Karsten Duncan
Sacramento, CA
Karsten Duncan   Sacramento, CA
Yet another comment for this route

5.10c crux is hard but short

You can rappel the route in 4 raps with two 60m ropes. Pitches 6-5, 4, 3, and 2-1 Apr 25, 2006
Luke Hanley
Boulder, CO
Luke Hanley   Boulder, CO
I'd have to agree with Joe C.... High step crimp..repeat and so on. Although Beautiful rock, beautiful patina. My best advice is to wear some stiff board lasted shoes. If you are used to wearing softies on sport routes, leave them at home for this one..your feet will thank you. Nov 6, 2007
Boulder, CO
pfwein   Boulder, CO
For anyone who reads this and is thinking of doing the route b/c you like face climbing at the POD grade and aren't looking to prove your wo/manliness, go for it and I don't think you will be disappointed. And I have to think I'm not the only person who will find a straight shot up 600-700' of clean face with no ledges to be at least a little bit exciting.
By the way, the bolts are not particularly close together (maybe a few exceptions) by modern sport climbing standards and good luck aiding this if you think it is a "bolt ladder"--better bring some hooks.
Have fun and if you fall asleep b/c of boredom when you're doing the route, plz feel free to post up.
Maybe my positive review is colored by the fact that I did it in late April in perfect weather with no one else on the route. I don't think it's the only climb in RR that gets to be a CF sometimes cuz of crowds. Apr 21, 2009
Are you guys seriously complaining about this route being monotonous and repetitive? And complaining about hanging belays? Tell me what the hell you expected when you looked up at the expansive, planar, featureless, evenly textured Black Velvet Wall above you as you racked up on the ground. Did you not look up?

This route is cool because of its repetitive, continuous nature. How often do you find a wall with pitch after pitch of continuous 5.9+ face climbing that seems to just never end?

We did it on a warm February day (it was still cold in the canyon - good climbing weather, but chilly for the belayer) and not one other party was on Black Velvet Wall all day.

For the last pitch, hang the belayer about 10' below and to the right of the anchor. When you start the pitch, clip one of the anchor bolts with a draw for the first piece of pro. The move getting to the first protection bolt on the pitch is not hard and the clip stance is decent. Feb 15, 2010
Magnificent route! Felt it was well bolted and disagree with those who say too many or too close. Skip em if you don't need em and let us chickens climb with a greater margin of safety. Mar 24, 2010
chulho "charles" chang
San Francisco Bay Area, CA
chulho "charles" chang   San Francisco Bay Area, CA
got up on dream of wild turkeys, but had a slow party ahead, so decided to do prince of darkness instead.

did the 2nd pitch of POD and decided we don't want to continue- some may like it, but my gf and i did not... it wasn't very fun for us to keep making the same move... over and over. Mar 31, 2010
Michael Werner
Eckental, Germany
Michael Werner   Eckental, Germany
We climbed it today with ONE 80 meter (262 feet) rope. There are still 5 feet rope free for the longest rappel (pitch 3) but be careful. Very awesome route! May 26, 2010
Joe Dondero
Sunnyvale, CA
Joe Dondero   Sunnyvale, CA
Yeah did it this weekend with one 80m as well. It was rather nice to not have to drag around a second rope. Also only people on the route! Oct 11, 2010
prod. Kenny
Boulder, Co
prod. Kenny   Boulder, Co
I just climbed it 2 days ago.

75 in Vegas, and we were still a little chilly.We brought a puffy jacket for the belays and were happy for it. Climbed in long sleeve shirts.

Pitch 2 didn't feel like .11a to me. There is an obvious crux 2/3rds of the way up, but it is a 2 move bouldery section right next to a bolt.

Prod. Mar 14, 2011
Arch Richardson
Grand Junction
Arch Richardson   Grand Junction
Monotonous? Edging closely-bolted granite slabs may be monotonous, but not this sandstone jewel. Sidepulls, micro mantels, highsteps, smearing, edging, and yes, crimping - and this is only the 2nd pitch. A face-climbing classic for sure. May 24, 2011
harihari   VANCOUVER
The stupidest route on the wall. "Can" does not equal "should."

It's basically the same moves and position for endless pitches. Sport wankers who want air love this. There is much more interesting climbing all over BV...if you arrive at the base of PoD and there are already 12 parties on it, consider yourself lucky...go climb Fiddler on the Roof, or DoWT, etc etc. Oct 29, 2011
Owen McGrath
Boulder, CO
Owen McGrath   Boulder, CO
Did this climb on 11/22 and really enjoyed it. For those that complain that the climb is monotonous, they clearly should have known that it would be that way from the ground. I loved the sustained crimping, edging and high stepping moves. The small crack sections on pitches 3, 4, and 5 offered some occasional finger jams to still keep things interesting. A great sustained burn up Black Velvet. My only complaint was that it was cold in November. Nov 29, 2011
Peter Lewis
Bridgton, ME
Peter Lewis   Bridgton, ME
Funny comments about all the crimping. If POD was a 700-foot stemming corner (with every move the same) it would rate 11 stars out of 10 and space aliens from Neptune would be cashing in their frequent flier miles to come and queue up for it. The left side of the Black Velvet wall is one of the most impressive stretches of stone anywhere in the solar system and we should all be smiling every time we make a move on it (even if it us just another crimp and high step). I'd thrash for three days up that wash just to touch it. May 21, 2012
I think that the point is that all the repetitive climbing isn't all that interesting after a while. While the wall is amazing and is an incredible piece of stone the climbs surrounding POD are all far more interesting with much more variety. Most are also not bolt ladders and offer more trad climbing. All of the hanging belays are also a bit of a pain. While a very nice route to do one time it really does not compare to most of its neighbors. I will gladly repeat most of the climb on the Velvet Wall but probably never do POD again. May 22, 2012
Paul K.
West Fargo, ND
Paul K.   West Fargo, ND
I would probably rate this route better if it wasn't so painful. Definatly do not do this with three people. The hanging belays become unbearable and you begin to want the anchors to blow and send you tumbling down. We decided to bail after four pitchs because it was getting dark and we had all had enough. Also, beware of the approach. If you take the wrong way you end up doing a free solo that can be sketchy to do with your packs on. Keep searching for a less sketching looking approach from the river bottom. Mar 19, 2013
David Blattel
Topanga, California
David Blattel   Topanga, California
We drove up Saturday morning from LA. Beautiful weather and one team a few pitches up. A few other climbers in the area, but pretty much had the run of the place. This climb is hard on the feet. More sore then my feet were the back of my heel's and I wish I had worn my big wall harness to be more comfortable at the anchors. That crux move, starting off on the last pitch was beyond my level. I don't think I could have led that! I really enjoyed this climb. Feb 18, 2014
Will M.
Will M.   Oakland
Cool movement if you're into face climbing. I found the crux pitch to be the second pitch -- much more sustained than the one move wonder boulder problem pitch 6. Bring 17 draws at a minimum. No gear bigger than red camalot unless you're going to do the upper pitches of DOWT. Mar 26, 2014
Steven James
Portland, Maine
Steven James   Portland, Maine
At 5'7" with a very positive ape index, I found Prince to be a rather reachy route including clipping in a few places where I simply could not reach. The first bolt at the start of pitch six was no exception. I had to fashion a foot step out of a sling to reach the first bolt to avoid falling onto my belayer.

With some moves happening while the previous bolt was a few feet below my feet, I found myself thinking a bit too much about how badly I didn't want to fall onto the less than vertical face of Prince. I think to be better prepared for the protection on this route, you should read the comments that think this is scary, and the ones that think it is a bolt ladder, and you should expect something in between. At no point was I terrified, but there were definitely some exciting moments. Also, there are a few places where there is more bolt density than others.

Grade wise, I'd feel very confident saying that you could take a solid 5.9 leader out here, and they would have a blast on this route being your second; with the exception of the beginning of the sixth pitch, where the face feels like it is coated in some sort of sandstone lubricant and feet literally just slide down the face. Nope, no smearing here!

I would have been just as happy without doing the sixth pitch, and thought the crux of the route was very uncharacteristic of the rest. Also, every hold may be a crimp, but it is not a crimp ladder. The mix of sidepulls, and feet everywhere make the constant crimping thought provoking and fun.

Though we carried two seventies up. We rapped with just one seventy to see if we could. On one of the pitches, I believe it was going down the third pitch, we came up a smidgen short (we were even with the anchor bolts, but resting on our knots) and had to do a bit of tomfoolery. If we were to do it again, we would just take one seventy. IIRC, the anchor we were rapping from when we couldn't comfortably reach could have been like two feet lower and would have been on a significantly better edge for your feet, which hurt. This comment ended up being really long. Oops. Oct 7, 2014
Cape Elizabeth, Maine
chuckdrew   Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Really fun route. I love climbing anything where the same feature goes on for many pitches - in this case it was a steep uniform wall with thousands of small but very positive edges. Sure, its repetitive - but that adds to the uniqueness of it.

We rapped the exact route we climbed on a single 70m rope without trouble. We were about 6 inches shy of the anchors on the 3rd pitch but it was easy to reach down and clip the chains. Make sure to tie knots in the end of the rope! If you are keen on doing it with two 70m ropes, you could leave the rope at the top of the 3rd pitch as all the upper pitches can be easily rapped with a single 70m. Oct 10, 2014
Randolph, Maine
marsenault   Randolph, Maine
I loved this climb and we had it all to ourselves while watching the log jam of people going up Epinephrine. The direct line up the imposing face of the Black Velvet Wall is definitely cool. It's essentially 600 feet of continuous face climbing before you get to an actual belay ledge. The climbing is fairly sustained between 9+ and 10b. There is a lot of edging, crimping, side-pulling, feet switching, and high-stepping. I found the moves somewhat thought-provoking in places and certainly not boring (IMO better than jamming the same sized crack for 100' in IC). The 10c crux pitch was short and sweet - i stabbed and smeared between the 2 shallow/flaring parallel cracks up to the 2nd bolt. The 2nd pitch (10b-ish) was the most challenging IMO since it was sustained and long. There are a few spinning bolts that are starting to pull from the rock. One was just plain scary (pitch 2 or 3?) but there was a bomber nut placement just above the bolt to back it up. Continuing up the upper pitches of DOWT is worthwhile - the climbing is easy at 5.8-5.9 and takes a standard set of cams and stoppers. Watch out for rope snag at the top of the last pitch of DOWT - extend your knot below the ledge so it doesn't lodge in the crack here. Apr 9, 2015
Wasatch Back, UT
drewford   Wasatch Back, UT
Just repeated this route after many years. Thanks to the ASCA for the nice big bolts and belays. Don't lose hope if the second pitch slabiness and foot pain doesn't suit you. The rest of the route is more positive and IMHO, way fun. Nov 23, 2015
Larry Shaw
Boulder, CO
Larry Shaw   Boulder, CO
This one is a classic sport climb, with unique gym like features, and close bolting. Jan 28, 2016
Really really crowded and kind of monotonous. Non-stop: crimp, crimp, high-step, crimp, crimp, high-step. It also made my toes hurt, a lot.

Climb the first pitch and then transition onto the climb to the left, Rock Warrior Apr 8, 2016
Kyle vH
Kyle vH  
For most 5.10 climbers this is not a sport route. The bolts are tightly spaced when sequential, but there are gaps of 10-20 feet at crack systems where you'll want to place (good, secure) gear.

  • We came up 4ft short trying to rap with a single 70m rope (on pitch 3). It sucked. You need two ropes or an 80m.
This route is incredibly, wonderfully sustained. It can be a painful experience but so is a 500ft devils tower stem-corner. Calling it monotonous seems short-sighted as few would use the moniker for IC splitters. If you love crimps and edges I think you will find the climbing engaging and impressive because of its relentlessness, not in spite of it. Feb 5, 2018
Andrew Fahrland
Denver, CO
Andrew Fahrland   Denver, CO
My partner and I simul-rapped the route with one 70m rope just fine, but we were at the knots while clipping the anchors at least once. I'm not sure our rope would have reached without the extra stretch from two decently-sized dudes hanging on the rope.

I thought p2 at 10a was harder than the 10c crux because it was so sustained. Though technically harder, the 10c bit is three fingerlocks with okay smears/stems for feet and you're done. Our rack of 17 draws and cams from 0.2 - 0.75 X4s and one set of small/medium nuts was perfect.

I thought the climbing was great, but at the end of the day we didn't have a lot of fun because of the hanging belays. The route is wonderfully sustained and after the first pitch, there are only a handful of moves on the whole thing that are easier than 5.8/5.9. I'm glad I did it once. Feb 6, 2018
Jeffrey Constine
Los Angeles, CA
Jeffrey Constine   Los Angeles, CA
Boring climbing, nothing exciting felt way easy. almost feel asleep. Sep 22, 2018