Arrow Place (another of many fine Jorge Urioste lines) is a fantastic short objective available to combine with the longer routes in Black Velvet Canyon. We combined Sour Mash’s (5.10a) 6 pitches with Arrow Place’s 3 pitches the day we climbed it. However Arrow Place is not technically located in Black Velvet Canyon. It is found at the northeast corner of a buttress to the right (north) of the canyon named Burlap. Burlap Buttress is easily accessed from the canyon floor right at the entrance/exit to the big walls of Black Velvet. Although the east wall of Burlap Buttress does not see any more sun on cold days than the north facing Black Velvet Wall, it can be quite protected from the wind.
Burlap Buttress has a south facing and east facing wall. To reach the east facing wall, you must circumvent the south wall to the north scrambling along a faint sheep trail. There are five published routes on Burlap Buttress’ east wall with Arrow Place running right up the middle of the wall following a seam just to the right of a deep arch. The first two pitches are fantastic for the grade utilizing crack and stemming skills up a corner and then a fist sized crack. The first few moves off the ground are the crux of the route and can be difficult to protect (one small/micro offset nut or a thin Lowe Ball will fit the crack, most other nuts will be rejected). A harsh yucca plant awaits any fall here. The first two stations are fixed, but no other bolts were installed on the route. Although Supertopo shows 5 pitches total, it does not recommend the final two loose and easy pitches. Jerry Handren’s book, “Red Rocks, A Climbers Guide”, does not mention them at all. You will need double ropes or a 70m rope to rappel the route.
You park at the Black Velvet trail head which can be reached off of NV 160. During 2008, the regular Black Velvet dirt road is under construction and thus closed. To access it beyond the closed construction area, you must drive further east on 160 to the Windy Peak turn off over a cattle guard. Stay right and take the left detours whenever possible to avoid tremendous pot holes and obstacles in the road. Although a 4wd is not always essential, a high clearance vehicle is your best guarantee of not getting stuck. Continue down the Windy Peak road until you reach a turn off on the right that has been marked with a sign (2008) for Black Velvet Canyon road. Turn right and this road will dead end into the appropriate road. Turn left and follow this road to its end. From the parking area, follow the road until a trail leaves it heading for the canyon. The trail eventually splits with one fork heading down to the wash and the other heading up the hill towards the red cliff band on your left below a row of protruding buttresses. Take the trail into the wash. Look for cairns marking a trail that ascends the right bank below Burlap Buttress. This turnoff is about 100 yards or so before you reach the steep dry waterfall in the wash. If the east face of Burlap Buttress is your sole destination, you can cross the wash quite a bit earlier and head for the northeast corner via burro trails.
Urioste and company actually found an arrowhead at the top of the first pitch on the first ascent, thus the name.
Route Description280’+/-, 3 Pitches, 5.9
1st Pitch- 80’- 5.9/ I really enjoyed this pitch. Jerry’s book makes a pretty big deal about the start, but I found it was not so difficult. I was glad I had my partner’s offset micro versus my regular nuts though. That is all I placed for the face climbing before making a reachy mantle up to positive and easily protected territory. From there it is fantastic crack and corner stemming to a station in a small alcove on your left. I found all of this easy to protect. When you pull the small overhang just under the station, you can protect with a 2” but will want to use a double length runner. If you still have a 3” it would work out better here.
2nd Pitch- 80’- 5.8+/ Some stiff climbing for the grade just above the belay in the crack. Hands to fist work up a short off width section to easier climbing above. Easy to protect, looking for an anchor on a large ledge above.
3rd Pitch- 120’- 5.7/ Not a very pretty pitch, but easy climbing. Move out right and either chimney up the widened crack (5.8) or face climb (5.7) out right. Climb past a ledge to the left and continue up starting to angle left towards what only looks like a bush, but is really your belay tree, just not a large one. This is a run out portion on large holds.
DescentTwo rappels with double ropes. Stop at the top of pitch two and then down to the ground.
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