Prince of Darkness
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Climbers on Prince of Darkness, Black Velvet Wall.
Approach as for Dream of Wild Turkeys, the first pitch is shared with this climb.
Prince of Darkness ascends straight up the center of Black Velvet Wall. From the ground, 5.10 climbing seems improbable up this blank looking face. Once on the rock, positive edges abound.
Pitch 1: 5.6 Start up the right facing shallow corners to the crack above. Place some gear or solo to the anchors.
Pitch 2: 5.10b From the bolted anchors, climb straight up the face past many bolts. Mostly positive edges with a few balancy moves and slopers. End at the bolted anchors.
Pitch 3: 5.10a From the bolted anchors, climb straight up past even more bolts and positive edges, with a few pieces of gear in the crack down low. End at the bolted anchors.
Pitch 4: 5.9 Similar to the previous 10a pitch, but slightly easier.
Pitch 5: 5.9 The climbing starts to become more slabby, with a few longer runouts between bolts. This pitch ends at the belay for the final crux pitch.
Pitch 6: 5.10c The crux of the climb is right off the belay past the first 2 bolts. The rock is remarkably different as the positive edges have given way to a slick slab with a thin, shallow crack. Fire up the crack on thin holds and smears. Be aware that it is difficult to the first bolt and it is possible to smack into your belayer if you fall. Edges reappear and the climbing eases off to the final anchor at an excellent ledge, which is quite welcome because all of the previous belays have been hanging.
Descent: 2 ropes are required. You can rap the route or the adjacent Yellow Brick Road. It is also possible to finish up Dream of Wild Turkeys and walk off.
I overheard a local call the Prince of Darkness the "Prince of Footpain" He was right on that accord. The climbing isn't the most comfortable with the continuous edging, and all the hanging belays are tiring. However, he also said the climbing wasn't that good and was monotonous. I disagree, I think it is fabulously continuous, with great position and great protection. The blank looking face offers a truly unique experience for a 5.10 climb.
Overall, I felt the climbing was of continuous difficulty after the first pitch, all in the 5.10- range. I felt little difference in the grades of the various pitches until the crux moves. The crux moves are definitely in your face. Enjoy!
15+ draws, some smaller cams (green, yellow, red, orange aliens, or similar) and/ or med nuts.
Just past the well-protected .10 c crux.
3rd (or 4th pitch?) on POD. Great exposure!!!
"Prince Of Darkness".
Photo by Blitzo.
Kris on "Prince of Darkness".
Photo by Blitzo.
first few pitches of prince of darkness/dowt
Bart on pitch 2 of POD
Tamara cruising up p3
BETA PHOTO: Top of the 1st
1 bolt 2 bolt 3 bolt 4, sometimes cleaning is a ch...
Krista on Prince of Darkness, September 2004.
Krista on Prince of Darkness, September 2004.
Mid Route somewhere. Fall 2010
Photo Matt Kuehl
1987 sign posted on top of first pitch telling you...
|Comments on Prince of Darkness
|By George Bell|
From: Boulder, CO
Mar 23, 2004
A butt bag is a useful item to have on this route for all the hanging belays, unless you are comfortable hanging in your harness for half-hour periods. I'm glad I did the route but did find it somewhat painful and monotonous. The position is fantastic, though, and the wall seems too steep to be free climbable, but tiny edges abound. Worth doing - once!
|By Joe Collins|
Mar 23, 2004
Most overrated "classic" in North America? High step, crimp, high step, crimp... repeat for 400ft until an interesting, slabby crux on the last pitch.
Calling this route popular would be an understatement. The bolts are very close together, thus the route attracts many parties with marginal experience... expect much waiting and clusterf**ks. I once showed up to do this climb early on a spring weekend and discovered 4 parties waiting at the base with another already on the route. I agree with George: worth doing once.
|By George Bell|
From: Boulder, CO
Mar 24, 2004
The funny thing is Rock Warrior is probably similar to this route (althouhg I've not done it), except for the much less frequent bolts. You don't hear anybody complaining that Rock Warrior is monontonous or painful! I guess when you're led out 30 feet that's the least of your worries. Just goes to show that less frequent pro can make for a totally different climb.
|By Josh Janes|
Sep 15, 2004
I think Joe Collins described this climb exactly as I'd describe it: a memorable crux on the final pitch with just a blur in my mind for the 5 pitches leading up to it. I also think that George makes an excellent point! One of my partners docks climbs stars when they have poor pro, but I kinda wonder what Prince of Darkness would have been like for me with half the bolts... maybe not a better climb, but it definately would have engaged the senses (other than "OW! My toes hurt!") a bit.
|By L. Hamilton|
Sep 18, 2004
Josh's comments hit the mark -- I too mostly recall the sketchy crux move, and otherwise that my toes hurt. It would be a better and less crowded route with fewer bolts.
Nov 29, 2004
We used a medium sized nut to protect the final pitch. Placed it only about 6 inches below the bolt but it could be placed before beginning to climb and it is mildly reasuring in that one is less likely to fall on the belayer. Not entirely necessary but a suggestion.
|By richard magill|
Dec 3, 2004
Really fun and cool and safe - although I did this line back when it was all quarter-inch bolts.
I did it with a wicked hangover and a nose full of lingering stripper perfume.Thought I might hurl but overall I think it added to the ambiance.
|By Tim Baguley|
Feb 1, 2006
I'm not sure the crux is really a 5.10c - at least not by Red Rock standards. I'd lean more towards a 5.11 rating. Bring some small wires to aid up on if you're not strong on small finger cracks & glass-smooth slab smearing. The rest of the route is sustained crimpy moves over and over and over and over... Not a very comfortable route (read: quite painful), but it's an area classic and a definite must-do!
|By Tony B|
From: Around Boulder, CO
Feb 2, 2006
I did it in 1995 and it was mellow. I did it in 2003 or 2004 and it was hard and polished. No more than a few hours after telling my partner that Red Rocks was all over graded...
I think that the 10c grade was right for it before it became so popular and polished, in red rocks grades. Now I suspect you are largely correct. Now it's a REAL 10c, which is to say... Red Rocks 5.11.
I'm not ragging on Red Rocks, I love the place. I'm just saying that the grades are typically soft.
|By Casey Jones|
From: Seattle, WA
Feb 8, 2006
My first (and a friend's) multipitch climbing experience back in the early summer of 2004. Great experience, though I agree that the route was a bit monotonous with the crimping and the pain in the toes. Used a couple medium sized nuts on the 3rd (or 4th pitch?). Seeing how the 6th pitch started was a shock!, but we managed to finish the route. I agree with previous posts; great to do once!
|By mark chytka|
From: laramie wy
Apr 20, 2006
high step crimp for 700 feet up a bolt ladder
From: Sacramento, CA
Apr 25, 2006
Yet another comment for this route
5.10c crux is hard but short
You can rappel the route in 4 raps with two 60m ropes. Pitches 6-5, 4, 3, and 2-1
|By Luke Hanley|
From: Boulder, CO
Nov 6, 2007
I'd have to agree with Joe C.... High step crimp..repeat and so on. Although Beautiful rock, beautiful patina. My best advice is to wear some stiff board lasted shoes. If you are used to wearing softies on sport routes, leave them at home for this one..your feet will thank you.
Apr 21, 2009
For anyone who reads this and is thinking of doing the route b/c you like face climbing at the POD grade and aren't looking to prove your wo/manliness, go for it and I don't think you will be disappointed. And I have to think I'm not the only person who will find a straight shot up 600-700' of clean face with no ledges to be at least a little bit exciting.
By the way, the bolts are not particularly close together (maybe a few exceptions) by modern sport climbing standards and good luck aiding this if you think it is a "bolt ladder"--better bring some hooks.
Have fun and if you fall asleep b/c of boredom when you're doing the route, plz feel free to post up.
Maybe my positive review is colored by the fact that I did it in late April in perfect weather with no one else on the route. I don't think it's the only climb in RR that gets to be a CF sometimes cuz of crowds.
|By Adam Kimmerly|
Feb 15, 2010
Are you guys seriously complaining about this route being monotonous and repetitive? And complaining about hanging belays? Tell me what the hell you expected when you looked up at the expansive, planar, featureless, evenly textured Black Velvet Wall above you as you racked up on the ground. Did you not look up?
This route is cool because of its repetitive, continuous nature. How often do you find a wall with pitch after pitch of continuous 5.9+ face climbing that seems to just never end?
We did it on a warm February day (it was still cold in the canyon - good climbing weather, but chilly for the belayer) and not one other party was on Black Velvet Wall all day.
For the last pitch, hang the belayer about 10' below and to the right of the anchor. When you start the pitch, clip one of the anchor bolts with a draw for the first piece of pro. The move getting to the first protection bolt on the pitch is not hard and the clip stance is decent.
Mar 24, 2010
Magnificent route! Felt it was well bolted and disagree with those who say too many or too close. Skip em if you don't need em and let us chickens climb with a greater margin of safety.
|By chulho "charles" chang|
From: San Francisco Bay Area, CA
Mar 31, 2010
got up on dream of wild turkeys, but had a slow party ahead, so decided to do prince of darkness instead.
did the 2nd pitch of POD and decided we don't want to continue- some may like it, but my gf and i did not... it wasn't very fun for us to keep making the same move... over and over.
|By Michael Werner|
From: Eckental, Germany
May 26, 2010
We climbed it today with ONE 80 meter (262 feet) rope. There are still 5 feet rope free for the longest rappel (pitch 3) but be careful. Very awesome route!
|By Joe Dondero|
From: Isla Vista, CA
Oct 11, 2010
Yeah did it this weekend with one 80m as well. It was rather nice to not have to drag around a second rope. Also only people on the route!
From: Boulder, Co
Mar 14, 2011
I just climbed it 2 days ago.
75 in Vegas, and we were still a little chilly.We brought a puffy jacket for the belays and were happy for it. Climbed in long sleeve shirts.
Pitch 2 didn't feel like .11a to me. There is an obvious crux 2/3rds of the way up, but it is a 2 move bouldery section right next to a bolt.
|By Arch Richardson|
May 24, 2011
Monotonous? Edging closely-bolted granite slabs maybe, but not this sandstone jewel. Sidepulls, micro mantels, highsteps, smearing, edging, and yes, crimping - and this is only the 2nd pitch. A face-climbing classic for sure.
Oct 29, 2011
The stupidest route on the wall. "Can" does not equal "should."
It's basically the same moves and position for endless pitches. Sport wankers who want air love this. There is much more interesting climbing all over BV...if you arrive at the base of PoD and there are already 12 parties on it, consider yourself lucky...go climb Fiddler on the Roof, or DoWT, etc etc.
|By Owen McGrath|
Nov 29, 2011
Did this climb on 11/22 and really enjoyed it. For those that complain that the climb is monotonous, they clearly should have known that it would be that way from the ground. I loved the sustained crimping, edging and high stepping moves. The small crack sections on pitches 3, 4, and 5 offered some occasional finger jams to still keep things interesting. A great sustained burn up Black Velvet. My only complaint was that it was cold in November.
|By Peter Lewis|
From: Bridgton, Maine
May 21, 2012
Funny comments about all the crimping. If POD was a 700-foot stemming corner (with every move the same) it would rate 11 stars out of 10 and space aliens from Neptune would be cashing in their frequent flier miles to come and queue up for it. The left side of the Black Velvet wall is one of the most impressive stretches of stone anywhere in the solar system and we should all be smiling every time we make a move on it (even if it us just another crimp and high step). I'd thrash for three days up that wash just to touch it.
|By David Stowe|
May 22, 2012
I think that the point is that all the repetitive climbing isn't all that interesting after a while. While the wall is amazing and is an incredible piece of stone the climbs surrounding POD are all far more interesting with much more variety. Most are also not bolt ladders and offer more trad climbing. All of the hanging belays are also a bit of a pain. While a very nice route to do one time it really does not compare to most of its neighbors. I will gladly repeat most of the climb on the Velvet Wall but probably never do POD again.
|By Paul K.|
From: West Fargo, ND
Mar 19, 2013
I would probably rate this route better if it wasn't so painful. Definatly do not do this with three people. The hanging belays become unbearable and you begin to want the anchors to blow and send you tumbling down. We decided to bail after four pitchs because it was getting dark and we had all had enough. Also, beware of the approach. If you take the wrong way you end up doing a free solo that can be sketchy to do with your packs on. Keep searching for a less sketching looking approach from the river bottom.