OverviewTriassic Sands is one of the classic Red Rocks lines put up by Joe Herbst. It climbs to the "summit" of Whiskey Peak (which itself is merely a "hump" on the southeast flank of Black Velvet Peak)in about 6 pitches. The grade of "III" refers to the complete line (base to summit); if you rap after the first 3 pitches, then clearly it's not "III". The crux pitch (P2) is generally rated 5.10 by all guidebooks and 5.10c by Supertopo's Climbing Red Rocks e-guidebook. It's short but I found it demanding (technical and strenuous).
Getting ThereFollow the driving directions on the main Black Velvet page under Getting There. From trailhead, follow the rutted out (closed to driving) road towards the canyon. Within few hundred yards, a marked trail veers off the road (road turns left, trail goes straight/right). Follow trail. In under 10 minutes, you'll come to a junction: left (uphill) fork heads towards Frogland while the right fork heads down towards the wash and in the direction of Black Velvet Wall (Epinephrine and other BV Wall routes). Take the right fork and drop into the wash. Follow the wash as it traverses beneath the red, rotten cliff band above and on the left (cliff band runs parallel to the base of Whiskey Peak). As you near the far end of the band and the wash makes a rightward turn, look for a trail heading straight and up out of the wash. The trail will bring you near the base of Triassic Sands. Total approach time is about 30 minutes.
Note that if you're planning on topping out on this route, the descent does not take you past the base. Doubling back to the base will add an extra 20 minutes to your victory beer guzzling plans.
Route DescriptionPitch 1: 5.7, 50 feet. Climb the obvious wide crack (#4 Camalot or #5 Friend sized) up to a large ledge. Though people mention that you can protect the pitch with small gear in horizontal cracks, we had trouble seeing those and found our #5 Friend very useful. Belay from slings and gear.
Pitch 2: 5.10, 150 feet. Move to the left edge of the ledge and climb up the left facing dihedral with a finger crack. Dihedral is capped by a small roof with a hand crack through it. This is the short but kind of intense crux of the route. Stemming and liebacking get you through. Above, jam the great handcrack (best handcrack we've seen in Red Rocks...though the place is not known for its cracks perhaps) using the endless face holds as well to a bolted stance atop a flexing flake (be careful!). Bring extra #2 and #3 Camalots for this pitch (I had to run it out quite a bit with 3X #2's).
Pitch 3: 5.8, 160 feet. A stellar pitch! Climb up the handcrack for about 90 feet until able to face traverse left 15 feet to another crack in a shallow, right facing dihedral. The crack is mostly fingers but abundance of face holds keeps things moderate. Belay on a large ledge with two bolts. CAUTION: one of two bolts is crap - I could pull it out with my fingers! You can supplement belay with cams. I would NOT want to rap from here.
Pitch 4: 5.10-, 120 feet. Another great and varied pitch! climb up towards the base of the huge dihedral 20 feet above. There's a huge, pointy flake on the left (looks like it might give sometime) - be careful yanking on it. There's also an old and manky bolt you can clip before pulling into the dihedral. Climb the easy handcrack in the dihedral until it closes up to fingers and then closes up totally. Use a great flake on the left side at that point and climb the arete on the left side of dihedral. Couple moves more inside the diehdral (finger crack) bring you to its top. Exit left and climb face (watch for loose blocks) 20 feet to a small stance and two bolt anchor.
Pitch 5: 5.7, 150 feet. Climb up and slightly left following a crack/flake. Move up a short, low angle dihedral and belay on gear when rope drag stops you.
Pitch 6: low 5th class, 200 feet. Follow easiest line up the progressively lower angle terrain taking care not to knock anything down. You top out on the "summit ridge" of Whiskey Peak 75 yards NW of Frogland (the dome-like summit you see to the SE).
Scramble 150 yards (class 3) toward the notch on the right (south side) of the top of Frogland. Pick up well marked trail in the notch (cairns) and follow it down (heading south) towards the trailhead. As you exit the gully near the bottom, follow trail left along base of Whiskey Peak (instead of taking a direct heading for the parking lot) and then drop down following a well-beaten boot path. Descent takes 20 minutes.
2X green Alien (~0.5inch) to yellow Alien.
3X or 4X #0.5 Camalot to #3 Camalot (double #0.75 and #1 probably sufficient).
1X #3.5, #4 Camalots
1X #5 Friend.
Small selection of nuts.