Refried Brains, Red Rocks, NV

May 6, 2008 / 5.9, 4p, trad.

We'd just had a very long day on "The Woman of Mountain Dreams" (a long line on Mt Wilson), followed by two days of recovery. After too much time doing chores and working on the site, we're anxious to go back to Black Velvet Canyon to climb Refried brains, one of the moderates on that wall we have not done yet.

The route takes a good looking line up the very left side of the Black Velvet wall, on great rock. It's warm and sunny again today, so we take a late start, hoping to climb the route in the shade. There are several cars at the trailhead when we arrive; a couple of Italians leave the parking area just ahead of us (they are going to Frogland). The rest of the climbers are all on Dream of Wild Turkeys. Our route is wide open. We reach the base as the first pitch is about to get in the shade (the rest of the route gets in the shade earlier, due to the huge buttress to the left).

After a break, I start up the first pitch. Fun climbing, with good protection (although not always everywhere you might want it) leads to a beefy bolted anchor just left of the obvious white roof. Maybe a bit stiff for a Red Rocks 5.8+ (older guidebooks call this pitch 5.9).

The next pitch goes up just left of the belay, on small ledges, and flakes, which lead into the large right facing corner. The climbing is interesting the whole way. The pitch ends on ledges at the top of a pillar. Trad anchor required. The "tree of a thousand slings" is now almost dead. It is 95% uprooted and just barely hanging on, upside down over the edge by one small root… might be good to cut it loose soon, before it falls down on someone.

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Refried Brains follows a good line on the left side of Black Velvet Wall.
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Lucie starting the first pitch (5.8+).
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At the bolted belay atop the first pitch.
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Pitch 2 (5.8+) goes up ledges and flakes before traversing into the large corner.
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Getting into the corner.

Getting to the next pitch requires traversing right several feet to an obvious crack. You step over the tree, then follow a 10" wide ledge. A bomber chain anchor is found halfway across the ledge. Eric moves the belay there before I start the crack pitch. This pitch is the crux (5.9). Up the obvious crack, past a couple of offwidth sections, to its end at a chain anchor by a small tree. It's about 160' long (Swain incorrectly shows this as two 160' pitches, and Handren as a 150' pitch). It would probably be a rope stretcher with 50m ropes.

Next is a short, easier (about 5.7?) pitch up blocky corners (one bolt) to a bolted anchor just left of the arete. I stop there to reduce the rope drag on the upper face.

From the bolted anchor, it is a short steep pitch of face climbing (5.9) past 4 bolts to another chain anchor. We rap down from here (very good rap route!).

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Starting the crux pitch (5.9).
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Great pitch, which follows a steep crack past a couple of offwidth sections.
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Pitch 4 goes up blocky terrain (5.7?) before...
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...traversing left toward the bolted anchor.
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A short steep face (5.9) leads to another bolted anchor.

The climb actually continues above this but the rest of the route has brittle/loose rock and is not recommended by Handren. There are also no rap anchors above this point, so continuing on requires climbing all the way to the summit of Black Velvet Peak (1200' of 4th class…).

Nice day. I think this route (as climbed to the end of p4) deserves three stars. RR doesn't have that many good 5.9's and this is one of them.

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Back at the base.