North American Classic Climbs

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Prince of Darkness

(Black Velvet Wall)

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Black Velvet Canyon in Nevada's Red Rocks Area has perhaps the highest concentration of classic multi-pitch crag climbs in the country. In the short distance between Frogland and Epinephrine are dozens of challenging and beautiful lines, any one of which would be a standout at a lesser area. There are routes here not even distinguished by a "thumbs-up" in the guidebook that are among the very best I've ever done.

Prince of Darkness emerges from this group as a good choice for the NA Classics collection for several reasons. It could serve as the National Bureau of Standards "5.10 face climb." After an easy approach pitch, it comprises 5 long pitches of 5.9 to 5.10c face climbing with not a giveaway move to be found. It is one of the most popular routes at Red Rocks since it affords plentiful protection for the leader. The first ascensionists spent many hours installing bolts at intervals that render inviting what would otherwise be an very intimidating line. These original bolts were replaced with modern ones in April of 2001 by the American Safe Climbing Association.

This is definitely a "crowded classic", and it attracts many underqualified parties. Bring a normal rack of gear to the base, so you can climb one of the other excellent routes in the area if the Prince is overcrowded.


Lowland Rock (crag)




Red Rocks Conservation Area, (near Las Vegas), Nevada, USA



G4, G40


III, 5.10c


Route Descriptions & Maps:

Route diagram

First Ascent:

J. & J. Urioste, B. Bradley, M. Ward, Fall 1984


Trip Reports:

Clark 04/00
Wyatt 5/01
Clark 11/01