Wholesome Fullback Buttress is the furthest west buttress on Whiskey Peak, opposite the better known Frogland Buttress. Whiskey Peak is at the south entrance to Black Velvet Canyon.
Its namesake route, Wholesome Fullback, two pitches at 5.10a, has become one of the more popular short trad climbs at Red Rocks. It was put in by Carl Folsom and Lars Holbek in 1975. It is often combined with other routes such as Triassic Sands. Most, including Jerry Handren and myself, will tell you this is the most challenging 5.10a pitch at Red Rocks. The 2nd pitch is non-consequential, but the 200’ first pitch is compared to 5.10 climbing at the Gunks on Rockclimbing.com. Most who have lead both, will tell you it is more difficult than the 5.10c pitch on Triassic. I also believe that since most, as I did, probably save this short route for the end of the day, that fact would influence this stigma some.
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. Black Velvet Canyon itself (beyond Whiskey Peak) 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 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. 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). For Wholesome Fullback Buttress, head down the wash and hike west quite a bit looking for a loose reddish trail on your left that is directly below the large pillar that easily marks the middle of the buttress. Meander up this trail to the base of that pillar for the routes Amber, Wholesome Fullback and Our Father.
The Routes are Listed Left to Right as you Face the Buttress
- Amber- 525'- 5.10c/ The four pitches of Amber each offer solid climbing at their respective grade. The first pitch is getting a bit more difficult with increased traffic. It is the same thin gear crack that starts Wholesome Fullback, so I had led it before. The few features outside or inside the seam are getting a bit polished. C3’s and smaller wires do afford bomber placements as you move through a few precarious moves off the deck. The grade eases as you climb up and left to a fixed belay ledge. The second pitch is the crux of Amber. There is a 5.12 variation that follows bolts up and left. The 5.10c original pitch of Amber however uses the idyllic hand crack out right which is followed by several intricate face moves at the grade back left to enter the obvious flaring chimney above. Several bolts protect this traverse as well as there is a bolt up beside the large flake, although it fully protects with small gear. Make burly moves up the flaring chimney/flake to its top and continue on easier ground moving back left to a fixed anchor on a decent ledge in an obvious corner. The third pitch ignores the corner and runs up the good crack up right through the left side of a roof. Follow this pitch up the crack until you can traverse out right to reach several bolts. Follow these bolts through a bulge and back into a seam. Follow the crack on its featured right side until you can move back left at the very top to reach the fixed semi-hanging belay. The forth pitch is a pleasant 5.8 pitch that follows a crack up to a small roof and pulls same as you trend right to the left side of the arête at the top of Wholesome Fullback Buttress. Follow the arête via the left side to the top of the wall and a fixed rap anchor. Rap the route with doubles. Dow
- Wholesome Fullback- 230’- 5.10a/ Definitely as tough as the first pitch of Triassic if not more so, I agree with folks on that. The crux move comes after the hands traverse right. It involves mantling the small roof with a small polished finger crack on your right. A 70m rope makes it all the way to the top. Watch a flake that can snare the end of your rope, pulling it on the first rap of Our Father. Dow
- Jay Smith Route- 220’- 5.10d/
- Delicate Sound of Thunder- 240’- 5.11b/
- Our Father- 240’- 5.10d/
- Tales from the Gripped- 280’- 5.11b/
- Only the Good Die Young- 340’- 5.11c/
- Closed on Monday- 50’- 5.9+/