Yellow Rose of Texas has gotten a raw deal in Handren’s guide; “Not very high quality”. But he goes on to say that it is an important route due to the fact that it gets you to the top of Texas Tower via moderate terrain giving you access to other good moderates above the tower. Yellow Rose linked with Texas Tower Connection makes for a great full day of moderate climbing in Black Velvet Canyon. Joanne and Jorge Urioste established Yellow Rose with Joe Herbst in 1978. If you are seeking out the finer off-width routes in Red Rock, this is one to add to the list.
The recommended first pitch is an obvious left facing chimney to the right of Epinephrine. The original first pitch to Yellow Rose, by the FAer’s own admission, is a not a worthy pitch due to bad rock. I ignored them and wish I hadn't. Choss does not get much worse in RR then this original first pitch. However the left facing chimney just to the right of Epinephrine now has two bolts to a fixed anchor and goes well as a start to Yellow Rose. The second pitch is on black varnish and climbs quickly to the ledge above. The third pitch is 3rd class and involves moving the belay to the upper wall below the right side of the tower. The fourth pitch is a fun pitch for the grade on great rock. In fact the rest of the climbing on Yellow Rose of Texas from this point on is stellar. The fifth pitch is best combined with the crux sixth pitch as they are in line with each other versus stepping left to a belay ledge in between the pitches. The end of the sixth pitch starts the climbing in the right side of the tower and is a fun pitch starting out on bolted slab (5.11) before reaching the corner proper. The seventh pitch is the off-width portion and is probably the reason you are climbing the route. I combined the seventh and eight pitches but can’t recommend it as the rope drag detracted from the climbing. The eighth pitch is short but sweet up twin finger cracks to the summit of Texas Tower.
Park at the Black Velvet trail head in Red Rock. Hike past Black Velvet wall as you would if hiking in for Epinephrine. Yellow Rose starts in the obvious left facing (wide) chimney about 80’ to the right of the start for Epi. You will descend right back down to this spot on rappel unless you continue up Texas Tower Connection, then you would rap Epinephrine.
Route DescriptionYellow Rose of Texas, 700’+/-, 5.11a
1st Pitch- 90’- 5.7 or 5.10x/ I helped Jorge and Joanne put up a new route nearby and they kept discounting the direct start to Yellow Rose even though it would go well with the route we were establishing. They told me it was not worthy of working on so we kept using the wide left facing chimney to access their new route. When I finally got on Yellow Rose, the left facing chimney was named as the alternative start, but I wanted to check out the direct start. They were right, it was not worth climbing. The super chossy nature of the rock and lack of adequate pro on a steep 5.10 start off the canyon floor was not fun. If you decide to give it a go though, this is the first crack to the right of the left facing chimney which is just to the right of Epinephrine. As stated in Handren’s guide, it is directly above the standing pool. A tree and boulder kind of block the awkward chimney start and then you follow the finger crack with little to no trust to a small ledge mid-way. From there, more chossy finger crack leads to much safer hand jams past an old bolt through a roof to the large treed ledge above. Alternatively, just climb the 5.7 wide corner which now (2015) has two pro bolts and a fixed anchor at the top.
2nd Pitch- 100’- 5.8/ If you did the 5.7 corner, coil the ropes over your shoulders and move the belay to the right through the narrow gully. At the top of the gully is a well varnished finger crack leading up relatively easy terrain. Climb it to a ledge with a fixed belay.
3rd Pitch- 140’- 3rd/ Hike southeast through the brush and cut back right and up to the well varnished wall above looking for a nice finger crack. There is a left facing corner just to the right as I recall.
4th Pitch- 90’- 5.8/ The rest of the pitches offer fun climbing at their respective grades in great rock by Red Rock standards. Climb the obvious fun crack to a belay ledge with a fixed anchor.
5th-6th Pitches- 150’- 5.11a/ I advise combining these pitches. Climb up the easy wide right facing corner to the left. At the top, continue on pitch 6 by following the four bolts to the start of the right facing corner above. Continue up this corner to a ledge below the obvious off-width with a fixed belay (not retro-bolted as the other fixed belays were in 2015). Either use that older fixed belay or set up a small gear belay in the base of the off width corner. The bolted smear climbing at the beginning of pitch 6 is one crux of the route, the off-width on pitch 7 being the other. If you break up the 5th and 6th pitches, the fixed belay is at an awkward place to start the 6th pitch. The crux of the smear section involves the last two bolts: steep and black rock, palming the more textured left side and avoiding the slick right side. Eventually make an athletic mantle on edges up to the base of a left facing corner. Continue up this corner (5.9-10-) to the base of the obvious off width on the right side of Texas Tower.
7th Pitch- 90’- 5.10a/ This is the pitch you came to climb. Head up the beautiful off-width pushing a C4#6 until a #5 will do. Walking one each will get you through the wideness. If you can face right from the beginning, that is what you want to do. I started facing left as that put my crotch on the arête which is typical position for a blank off-width. But right when any more movement comes at a high premium, you will want to be facing right to reach a finger edge that gets you up to easier climbing above. Continue to the top of the off-width with a solid ledge. Handren has this as one pitch, but Joanne has this as two pitches in her FA description. I did it as one pitch with plenty of extension and regret it. The last section is so cool, don't degrade it with rope drag and split these last two up as I have it here.
8th Pitch- 60’- 5.9/ This is a super fun finish and full on for the grade at the start. From the ledge head up the slightly overhanging twin finger cracks finding a nice hand jam in the corner one. It only last for one or two jams. Then press your left foot against the slightly off-set finger crack on the left and stem up the twin finger cracks placing finger gear at will. There is a block to mantel as the left crack opens up from fingers to wide which equals an athletic move. Easier climbing leads to the summit of Texas Tower.