Sour Mash, Red Rocks, NV

May 5, 2008 / 5.10a, 7p, trad.

We have a leisurely start. The route is 7 to 8 pitches long and quite sustained, but we'd rather not be climbing in the sun for very long. We expect the route to come into shade around noon. There is only one vehicle at the trailhead when we arrive around 9AM. Along the hike-in, we spot two parties: one on Frogland, and one on Dream of Wild Turkeys. I guess they car-pooled. We take our time getting ready on the sunny sandstone ledges at the base of the wall.

The first pitch is short and ends at the ledge below the beautiful varnished triangular corner. The only difficulty on this pitch is the steep but short lie-back flake (5.8+). Protecting the flake is a bit tricky but not too bad.

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On the approach trail to Black Velvet Canyon after a leisurely start.
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The route follows corners and crack systems, right of the huge roof.
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On the short 5.8+ pitch that leads to the good ledge at the base of the beautiful varnished corner.
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Pitch 2 tackles the varnished corner.
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It's a great pitch and one of the cruxes of the route (5.10a).

The second pitch tackles the beautiful varnished corner (bolt protected) and is one of the first cruxes of the route. I might have done one or two moves of laybacking but mostly face climb and stem up the corner. The travese left at the apex of the triangle invoves one tricky face move. Above that, you're following a good easy crack (5.7ish?) to a small stance by a tree.

We get into the shade by the end of p2. We'd climbed this route a long time ago, but didn't remember much about it. We're both pleasantly surprised. It's a really great one. Varied and sustained, on amazing rock.

The third pitch is much easier than it looks (and than the description makes it sound...). I do not find it awkward, contrary to what the guidebook says. It's steep but the holds and the pro are all there. I stop at the intermediate anchor of pitch 3. I should probably have belayed higher up but I was afraid of rope drag.

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The third pitch is easier (5.8) and traverses right to a crack leading to an anchor.
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Just above the intermediate anchor on pitch 3.
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Starting up the 5.7 handcrack of pitch 4.
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Reaching the bolted anchor atop pitch 4.
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Starting pitch 5, a very good pitch, following a 5.9 handcrack.

The end of pitch 3 follows a crack (2 bolts) and moves left to another good ledge and a bolted anchor.

Pitch 4 is straightforward and follows a 5.7 crack. This pitch is short enough that you could probably combine it with the second half of pitch 3, from the intermediate anchor. I just did short pitches instead.

Next comes one of the best pitches of the route (p5). A great 5.9 crack. Long and sustained.

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About to traverse left into the parallel cracks.
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Starting the crux pitch (p6, 5.10a).
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This pitch is longer and more committing than pitch 2.
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Just above the crux.
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The last pitch is short and a bit slabby (5.9+).

The second 5.10a pitch (p6) is much more comitting and sustained than pitch 2. It follows a steep crack (5 bolts) to the base of a shallow corner. Liebacking the corner is the crux, but I found traversing right to the anchor a bit tricky too (or maybe I was just tired...).

We rap straight down, through the anchor at the lip of the huge roof. A great day.

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Rapping down the route.
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Hiking back to the car with Las Vegas in the background.
     

Note: one of the belay/rap anchors on the route (about half way up, cannot remember exactly which one) is missing a nut. The anchor has a double Fixe bolt anchor with connecting chain and steel ring, and an additional bolt with screw links. The bottom bolt of the Fixe anchor is missing the nut, so the whole thing is hanging from the chain and the upper bolt. Still safe, but could use a 3/8" nut and washer (galvanized, I think).