Black Arch Wall, 5.8-5.12b

Black Arch Wall, 5.8-5.12b

Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 36.10810°N / 115.4894°W
Activities Activities: Trad Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
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There and Back Again, 5.8

 There and Back Again, 5.8

Black Arch Wall is a large amphitheater of nicely varnished sandstone which is separated from Solar Slab by Sunspot ridge on Rainbow Mountain in Oak Creek Canyon at Red Rocks. Black Orpheus if one of the more popular routes at Red Rocks and therefore one of the earlier routes I climbed in the park. To the left of the start of Black Orpheus is a large black arch that is the wall’s namesake. Black Orpheus and There and Back Again are both considered part of this wall. Another route worth mentioning on Black Arch Wall is Tuscarora. This five pitch route up the lower section of the smooth pillar in the center of this wall is quite impressive and goes at a stout 5.12b.

Black Orpheus, 5.9+, IV


Access is via the Oak Creek Canyon Trail head which is the last parking turn off on the right from the Red Rocks loop road. You will actually drive down a gravel road for quite a distance to reach the trailhead. There is a restroom at this location. Many routes are reached from this trailhead, so no worries about various vehicles in the parking lot, more than likely most climbers are after the Solar Slab objectives. Follow the trail into the canyon and turn right to stay out of the canyon floor and follow the trail staying low and below any turn off up the hill on your right to the Solar Slab routes. Continue, aiming for the narrow section of the canyon, then drop into the canyon floor and boulder hop keeping your eye out for a cairn on the right. Follow a short trail that takes off and up the ground to the right that soon turns into slab like scrambling. Depending on which route you are after, you will meander your way up the hill to the right to the base of the wall.

Route Description(s)

The Routes are Listed Left to Right as you Face the Wall


Black Orpheus, 5.9+, IV

 Black Orpheus, 5.9+, IV
There and Back Again, 5.8

Black Orpheus, 5.9+, IV

Black Orpheus, 5.9+, IV


  • Black Betty- 150’- 5.10b/

  • Black Widow- 300’- 5.11b/
  • actually located in the arch itself (not to be confused with Black Widow Hollow on Mescalito)

  • The Plate of Fate- 310’- 5.9+/
  • (use this rappel line for There and Back Again’s descent as well)High on Black Arch Wall, Plate of Fate is a short route just to the left of There and Back Again. For us it was the perfect choice on a frigid December day when the somewhat lengthy approach kept us warm. The route is south facing, so perfect for cooler days. Granted there are a few brief sections of loose rock, but the harder moves are solid and well protected with either bolts or gear. First ascent by prolific route pioneer, Jorge Urioste, and Bill Hotz. Fossana

  • There and Back Again- 500’- 5.8/
  • There and Back consists of five pitches that angle left to a point above the Painted Bowl and Black Arch Wall. The most interesting pitch is the sustained, but short, wall traverse on the forth pitch. The fifth pitch offers a short overhanging section, but is misleading from appearance as it is easy to circumvent the overhanging crack to the right, thus the 5.8 grade. The third pitch has a short 5.8 slab section to overcome directly above the belay. The 2nd pitch offers a short, but fun, left facing corner. There is no fixed gear on this route (2008). Dow

  • Tuscarora- 440’- 5.12b/

  • Marijuana- 660’- 5.11d/

  • The Bandit- 280’- 5.11b/

  • Black Orpheus- 1370’- 5.10a/
  • First three pitches are alright, nothing spectacular. If competent, you can put the ropes away for pitches 4-7...would go a lot faster....the Falcon Guide and Supertopo are quite conflicting on this section...but all the ground is easy...most of it is exposed.....the last pitches are fantastic...definitely worth the trip up there...we actually set up a hanging belay to the right of those two bolts used to help on the crux move on the pitch above that spectacular corner pitch....that is not a 5.10a move....a lot easier than it looks actually....another nice pitch though. The finger crack pitch above those 5.9 pitches is probably more like a 5.7 than 5.6...beautiful position pitch...the descent is fast and furious, two double rope rappels and then a walk off down the right side of Painted Bowl. Dow

  • Bossa Nova- 360’- 5.11b/

  • Death in the Afternoon- 400’- 5.9/

  • Great Gritsby- 400’- 5.10a/

  • Farewell to Arms- 270’- 5.9/

  • Six Pack- 450’- 5.10a/

  • Offset Corners- 110’- 5.11b/
  • Essential Gear

    These are all trad lines with an assortment of fixed pro here and there. They all will require an assortment of gear as spelled out in Jerry’s Handren’s “Red Rocks, A Climbers Guide”. Most of the routes require double rope rappels. Most rappel their own route except for Black Orpheus. Black Arch Wall faces south, but some of your winter sun will be cut off by Mount Wilson. Dress accordingly.

    External Links

  • Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, BLM

  • Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association

  • DowClimbing.Com



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