Sandblast is a two pitch route that follows the same quality of rock and long crack features that make Triassic Sands (5.10b) such a Red Rock classic. Sandblast, Triassic and Sand Felipe (5.10a) are located right next to each other on the Ixtlan Buttress of Whiskey Peak in Black Velvet Canyon at Red Rock, Nevada. Together, these three routes make for a full day of climbing at the grade (8 long pitches). My favorite of the three is no doubt Triassic due to its length, but the two long and steep trad pitches of Sandblast are ever bit as challenging and worthwhile. Paul Van Betten led and established Sandblast in 1987.
The first pitch can offer a variation via running up San Felipe to a traverse point back right into the long seam that essentially is Sandblast. The reason I mention this variation is the fact that the start of Sandblast is made up of an off width (not much of a chimney as Handren’s guidebook would lead you to believe) section right from the deck that can only be protected with large gear (i.e. #6 camelot). By utilizing San Felipe to a relatively easy traverse, this off width section can be avoided. Both pitches of Sandblast are quite long (160’ each) and once you get past the off width, the first pitch continues through the crux (thin) section of the seam/crack above (left of two cracks) to a manky (2010) bolt and then back right to the same fixed belay used for Triassic Sands. To begin the second pitch, traverse back left on somewhat fragile, but positive edges and holds to follow another thin seam which runs parallel to the Triassic Sands hand crack. This second pitch is steep and sustained for half the pitch and then the seam widens and the climbing becomes much more laid back as you head for the shared fixed belay (ledge) with Triassic once again. Rap the route with double ropes.
Whiskey Peak routes involve more of an ascent up the hill before you actually enter the canyon via the wash with the exception of Wholesome Fullback Buttress, which can be accessed via its own trail further west in the wash. Pick up the Black Velvet primitive road at the paved trailhead out on Hwy 160. Follow this road as it crosses a dip that will be difficult to navigate with a low clearance vehicle depending on conditions. Continue to a fence and follow the road as it turns left. This bumpy road ends at a trailhead area. From the parking area, follow the old road until a trail leaves it heading for the canyon (right). 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 (Whiskey Peak). For Ixtlan Buttress, ascend the left trail up to the left break in the small collapsing headwall above. Locate the trail right above this feature and traverse below Whiskey to the western buttresses. Triassic Sands is easy to make out from below.
Route Description320’+/-, 2 Pitches, 5.10a
1st Pitch- 160’- 5.10a/ This is a stout and sustained pitch for the grade at Red Rock. It starts off with a 30’ tall off-width section that needs large gear to protect (6”). You can avoid this section by climbing the first 30’ or so of Sand Felipe and then traversing back right to the left most of two cracks that rise above the off-width section. This thin crack (C3’s) runs up good varnished ground until it peters out and you need to traverse right past a manky bolt (2010) to the wider cracks that lead to the shared fixed belay with Triassic Sands.
2nd Pitch- 160’- 5.9+/ I read somewhere that a few climbers thought this pitch was a bit chossy, but I found the rock relatively sound. Traverse via face moves back left and up to a small crack/seam that eventually widens to a very pleasant hand crack up through easier ground. Rap with double ropes from the second shared fixed belay with Triassic Sands.