Whiskey Peak is the smaller brother, in every since of the word, to Black Velvet Peak. Both of these rocks can be found at the climbing crown jewel at Red Rocks, Black Velvet Canyon. Black Velvet Canyon is home to some of the most popular routes in the southwestern desert, Dream of Wild Turkeys, Prince of Darkness and Epinephrine to name a few. These classics are located deeper in the canyon on Black Velvet Wall. Whereas Whisky Peak is a pile of rock that guards the entrance to the canyon on the south side. The routes on Whiskey Peak are more benign than the Black Velvet Wall routes being neither as sustained or difficult in nature. The most popular of the group by far is a 6 pitch 5.8 route known as Frogland.
Whiskey Peak is actually a combination of multiple buttresses. Each buttress is considered its own climbing area, Lazy, Frogland, Ixtlan and Wholesome Fullback Buttress. Together with a small cliff on Whiskey Peak’s east end, they contain over 50 published routes (2008) among them. Many of the routes reach Whiskey Peak’s summit which then offers a walk off descent to the east via the Whiskey Peak-Black Velvet Peak col. The summit of Whiskey Peak is a great opportunity to scout out the Black Velvet Wall routes to the west. It is possible to descend from the col to the west with one rappel at the end. The bushwhacking needed to get back to he base of Whiskey Peak is such, that you would want to take your gear up the route if this is your plan. Because all of the climbing on Whiskey Peak is on its north face, these objectives make for much better spring-summer-fall objectives versus winter ones.
Black Velvet Canyon itself contains some of the more popular routes at Red Rocks, Epinephrine, Dream of Wild Turkeys and Prince of Darkness. The ease of approach from the parking area as well as the short approach from the canyon floor to the base of these routes add to their attraction, not to mention the rock is quite stellar. Whiskey Peak routes , however, involve more of an ascent up the hill before you actually enter the canyon via the wash. You park at the Black Velvet trail head which can be reached off of NV 160. During 2008, the regular Black Velvet dirt road was under construction and thus closed. As of 2009 it is re-opened with a paved trailhead off of the highway. Drive through the paved parking area and access a dirt road at the east end. 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. 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). Frogland is the 2nd buttress from the left and is made quite obvious by a large roof about midway up. Once you break through the red cliff band above by its left end, hike right towards the base of the buttress and/or route you are climbing. Several trails meander through brush in this area depending on what route you are looking to gain.
North Face Break Down
The Buttresses are Listed Left to Right as you Face Whiskey Peak
- Lazy Buttress/
- Frogland Buttress- 5.8-5.10d/ Frogland Buttress showcases one of the more popular 5.8 trad mixed line at Red Rocks, Frogland, 6 pitches, 770’, another Jorge and Joanne Urioste classic. A route that gets overlooked for Frogland but is probably as good if not better is the relatively new (2005) Bourbon Street at 5.8+ put in by Larry DeAngelo (“Scary Larry”). Both of the before mentioned routes take you to the summit of Whiskey Peak. As of 2008, there are only three other published routes on Frogland Buttress, all relatively short, Rain Dance, 5.10a, As the Toad Turns, 5.10d and Romance is a Heart Breakin’ Affair, 5.10a. I combined the best of Frogland and Bourbon Street and named it appropriately enough, the Druken Frog.
- Ixtlan Buttress- 5.9-5.11c/ Ixtlan Buttress showcases one of the more popular 5.10 trad lines at Red Rocks, Triassic Sands, 5 pitches, 730’, another Joe Herbst classic put in way back in ’72 and freed in ’79 by his party as well. The two other popular routes on Ixtlan Buttress are Misunderstanding, two pitches at 5.9, and Ixtlan (the route itself), eight pitches at 5.11c.
- Wholesome Fullback- 5.9-5.11c/ Its namesake route, Wholesome Fullback has become one of the more popular short trad climbs at Red Rocks. It is often combined with other routes such as Triassic Sands. Another stellar route on Wholesome Fullback Buttress is Our Father, 5.10d, three pitches up the back side (rappel route) for Wholesome Fullback. The last 75’ pitch is as classic as a sandstone corner gets in the desert. None of the eight published routes (2009) exceed 500’ on this shortened buttress at the west end of Whiskey Peak.