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Black Orpheus Amphitheater
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There and Back Again 

YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c

Type:  Trad, 5 pitches, 540'
Original:  YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c [details]
FA: Jim Boone & Ellen Dempsey 2/80
Page Views: 4,177
Submitted By: Xavier Wasiak on May 7, 2005

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (18)
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In the rain, poor Jonny prepares to bail off the c...

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


The route begins just left of the white recessed wall that is left of the start of Black Orpheus. The route is also to the right of the large black arch that is the left side of Black Arch Wall. There are no fixed anchors on the route and I suggest taking all your gear with you instead of leaving any in Oak Creek for later retrieval.

p1 Begin at the base of a yellow 180' pillar with black knobs on the face that leans up against the wall. Climb the face to the top. 185'.

p2 Climb up to a left facing corner, then up corner to a belay ledge. 90'

p3 Straight up 15-20 feet of face climbing leads to a +/-2 foot thick left facing dihedral that looks like an backwards "s". After an awkward move, you should get to another belay stance. 80'

p4 Climb left to a face with many edges and up a thin crack to a ledge with some loose boulders. Try not to kill partner with boulders and here you have a choice. Go immediately left and up to a ledge with some bushes and belay from there (80' and the way the route is supposed to go), or, go right up a left facing corner and then into a right facing dihedral that leads to a ledge (150' and pretty fun). If you go the second way, your next pitch will go left to an obvious crack on black rock and up for 20' and you're done.

p5 head up and right to an overhanding crack that is libacked and jammed up to a ledge (top of 4th pitch if you went right at p4 choice) then up the crack on black rock to an eventual ledge and belay spot. 110'

From the top of the route, head up and left, then down and left, into the painted bowl. Keep looking left for the vegetated area with a pine tree. Once at the pine tree, keep scrambling until you see the bolted rap anchor. Two 60 meter rappels will get you to the slabs. Walk down skiers right to a gully, then to Oak Creek.


The beginning of Pitch 3 has a 15-20 foot runout section that may bring protests from leaders, otherwise, protection is adequate.

Photos of There and Back Again Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Cruxin' on p3. Unknown climbers, photo taken Nov. ...
Cruxin' on p3. Unknown climbers, photo taken Nov. ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Last pitch hand crack / layback, lots of fun.  Muc...
Last pitch hand crack / layback, lots of fun. Muc...
Rock Climbing Photo: View from the top, very nice!
View from the top, very nice!
Rock Climbing Photo: Greg links pitches 3 and 4.
Greg links pitches 3 and 4.
Rock Climbing Photo: Flat Stanley waits for Gigette to top out the firs...
Flat Stanley waits for Gigette to top out the firs...
Rock Climbing Photo: After my partner and I completed climb, we headed ...
After my partner and I completed climb, we headed ...
Rock Climbing Photo: There and Back Again
BETA PHOTO: There and Back Again

Comments on There and Back Again Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Mar 9, 2017
By Dirty Gri Gri, or is it GiGi?
From: Vegas
Feb 25, 2006
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

Awesome climb with a variety of features and moves.Keeps you interested the entire way!. I'm surprised it doesn't get more traffic. We climbed it in 4 pitches.

The beautiful hike and scramble to get there took us about an hour and ten minutes from highway 159 , at average hiking speed.
By George Bell
From: Boulder, CO
Mar 28, 2006

Why do you suggest taking all your gear with you? It sounds to me like the descent goes right by the base, or am I missing something? Obviously you're going to take all the climbing gear, but why not leave a few liters of water at the base?

Sounds like this climb might make a good approach to "Chicken Lips".
By Cunning Linguist
Mar 7, 2007

We caught this route on an unseasonably sunny day and look like lobsters as a result. You could stack a Painted Bowl route on top of this one, but I'd rather go up the slabs, climb a route, descend and add on Underhanging Overhang or Catwalk. The route is more 'old school' than I expected-pro on the third pitch was hollow and/or well spaced; don't put a newbie on this lead-my partner leads 5.12 and took his time *on toprope* on the slab off the belay. The loose rock on all ledges pose a serious hazard-DO NOT climb this route if someone else is already above you. I nearly got crushed before I had climbed 50 feet; helmets and paying close attention mandatory. The route is aesthetic; a nice contrast to the less committing routes nearby.
By Dirty Gri Gri, or is it GiGi?
From: Vegas
Mar 7, 2007
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

One of my all time favorite climbs. It made me so happy. It's funny how the mind works. I led the third, and fourth pitch as one long pitch, and wasn't at all scared on the runout section off the belay, and I was a 5.8 climber when I led it. I thought it was pretty easy. Although I was a little sketched on the upper face stuff upon linking pitch 3 & 4; it's where I dropped a precious HB offset out of my mouth, when fumbling for a nut placement; so if anyone finds it at the base somewhere.... ; ) Thanks for bringing back a good memory for me, Killis. :)
By John Wilder
From: Las Vegas, NV
Dec 14, 2007
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c R

a good route, but definitely not a beginners 5.8. I found the belays to be....inadequate for the first two pitches, but the stances are huge, so it worked out.

the corner on the second pitch looked harder than 5.7, so i climbed the face to the right at 5.7/5.8ish...not bad, but no gear!

the third pitch was fun, but definitely run-out- link with the fourth for extra fun.

the fifth pitch was amazing- from below it looked much harder than 5.8, but ended up being a joy to climb!

the next person who climbs this route should take....20-30' of webbing up with them to replace the last rap station on the rap route to the left- that thing is total junk and needs an overhaul!
By Doug Hemken
From: Madison, WI
Jan 18, 2008

A not-bad route in a great location. Every pitch had something of interest, but it is not very sustained.

We left gear at the base and rapped right back to it.

The rap route could use some sprucing up. We replaced a wad of old webbing at the second station (the top of p2 of the route that now climbs up through here) on the little oak shrub. I feel sorry for the oak - this might be a good place to put another bolted anchor? Or there is a third station farther down, but we didn't look at that very closely, since our 60m ropes put us back on the ground from the little oak.
By Andrew Carson
From: Wilson, WY
Jan 29, 2009
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c R

It was not the quality day we'd expected, with alot of loose rock on ledges. You can avoid the run-out start to pitch 3 by swinging way to the right, then back left, it would appear. There was quite a bit of visible chalk in that direction. An R seems pretty fair for the start of pitch 3.
The Plate of Fate rap descent has seen some recent rockfall of a major nature, and because the first rap station, below the pine, was full of teetering blocks and very unstable, we chose to hike off. It would take alot of trundling to clean it up. Kinda scary.
By smassey
From: CO
Apr 10, 2009

Great route. Makes you think. When I climbed this in October 08, the rap descent was quite dangerous, as per the above comment. There were recent rockfall marks going almost directly down the rap line into the wash. Plan on walking off until further notice that this has been cleaned. If anyone knows the folks that were trundling just up-canyon from karate crack about three busy weekends ago, maybe they could pass this along, and do a little public service... jk.
By brucelacroix
From: Carson City, NV.
Apr 3, 2010
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c PG13

Looks like the rap route has been cleaned.
By Tom Fralich
From: Fort Collins, CO
Feb 8, 2011
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

There is NO RUNOUT if climbed as described in Handren's book. The description and photos on this page show people climbing straight up off the belay to start P3. BUT...if you traverse left and follow a weakness back up right, you get to the shallow corner with plenty of gear along the way. Straight up = R. As in Handren's book = PG.
By Ben Townsend
Nov 18, 2014

Really fun climbing, kind of a mountaineering feeling to it in spots, due to more loose blocks than usual for Red Rock. In the sun all day in mid-November.

The first pitch ("Knobissimo Slab" per the Urioste guide) must be one of the funnest easy trad pitches anywhere, sort of a kindergarten version of Armatron. Big ledge at the top of the slab, but the only available anchors are boulders that can be slung.

As of November 2014 there was a blue TCU (not ours) stuck in the second pitch corner. The runout off the belay on the third pitch is pretty serious if you do anything other than walk straight left on the obvious foot ledge, but the crack system at the left end of the foot ledge does take some gear -- another time, I'd try to exit left from the second pitch corner as soon as possible, reach the crack system, and link these two short pitches. We climbed the face right of the S-corner, which has cool features and decent gear.

The Plate of Fate rappel was pretty obvious and could be done with one rope with three rappels off bolted stations with rings. The top station is as far down below the tree as you can scramble safely; looks like some people miss it and go off the tree, which would be wretched given the amount of loose rock.

Jim Boone, who did the FA, was a ranger at Joshua Tree in the early 1980s. Currently he maintains a website with natural history information for the Las Vegas area.
By Tradiban
Dec 3, 2014

Link this to a Eagle Wall route for full value, goes pretty quickly by linking pitches with a 70.
By WillK
Nov 10, 2016

Anyone have more beta on what gear to bring for this route?
By Jorge Jordan
Mar 9, 2017

Some extra gear beta:
Standard rack to #3 Camalot
Double #2 Camalot for the last pitch
Some extra TCU maybe if you go around left on pitch 3.

I felt going around left on pitch 3 was just as spicy as going straight up. You technically get more gear though.

The last pitch can easily be done with just one #2, but the 5.8 leader who isn't super comfortable at hands will happily place a second one.

Good climb.

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