Amber, Red Rocks, NV

April 28, 2008 / 5.10c, 4p, trad.

After a forced rest day because of a huge blister on Lucie's foot, we have another short day in Black Velvet Canyon. We climb "Amber", a route just to the left of the well-known Wholesome Fullback.

Amber is overall a pretty good route; a good line with a good crux pitch, but some unpleasantly brittle rock on the 3rd, and particularly the 4th pitch. It is a relatively new route, so it might clean up as traffic increases.

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On the Black Velvet Canyon approach trail .
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"Amber" climbs the Wholesome Fullback Buttress in 4 pitches.
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The first pitch (10a) of Amber goes up the finger crack of Wholesome Fullback but stops at a bolted belay where WF continues up and right.
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Hiher on pitch 1.
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Eric starting the crux pitch (10c).

The 1st pitch is short and tackles the crux 5.10a (tricky!) finger crack of "Wholesome Fullback". It stops at a ledge with a bolted anchor where Wholesome Fullback continues up.

The next pitch (5.10c) is super fun, with a bit of everything (face, traverse, chimney, crack), and very good rock. A long pitch.

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Below the traverse on pitch 2.
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Chimneying the flake, higher on pitch 2.
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The third pitch is easier (5.8)...
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...but has much suspect rock, so take care...
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Views.

Next is a standard RR edging pitch, with some suspect rock.

The last pitch goes straight up a small roof at 5.8 (sandbag), then continues on edges (very brittle, scary) to an anchor on a shoulder of the right arete. Note that I stayed left of the wide crack as indicated in Handren's guidebook. I believe this to be a mistake. The anchor is at the right hand side of the crack, and so is - I think - the 5.8 climbing. By staying left, I found myself on scary, brittle, and runout 5.9 face.

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Eric starting the last pitch.
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Climbers on "Prince of Darkness".
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Enjoying the flowers on the way back to the car.
   

We spend some time snapping pictures of the Black Velvet Wall when we reached the top of the buttress. Our friends Griet and Nico (from Belgium) are having fun on Prince of Darkness. A quick rap descent brings us back to our packs.