Guided Climbing Epinephrine, Red Rock, Las Vegas, NV
Are you ready to climb Epinephrine?
It’s hard to think of a more classic moderate free climb than Epinephrine in Red Rock, Las Vegas, NV. In fact, Epinephrine sits at number 10 on Mountain Project’s top 20 classic climb list. It seems to be the first route that comes to mind for every first-time visiting climber to Red Rock. I am sure it’s on nearly every multi pitch climber’s to-do list; and it’s “only” 5.9! We get many requests to climb Epi but do you know what to expect on a day attempting to climb Epinephrine?
Let’s first break it down by the numbers. Epinephrine sits at the end of Black Velvet Canyon which is approached by a mile and a half of moderate hiking. According to the guidebook, the route is 2,240 feet of climbing broken down into 16 pitches. Of those 16 pitches, 6 of those pitches are 5.9, 2 pitches are 5.8, 4 pitches are 5.7, and 4 pitches are 5.4. Finally, from the summit you will need to reverse that 2,240 feet of elevation over 2 miles back down to your car in the parking lot. I would estimate that it takes a competent party roughly 8-10 hours to complete the route on sight. A guided party will generally take anywhere from 8-14 hours. It is not uncommon to hear of unprepared recreational parties taking 12-16 hours on route or even having an unplanned bivy due to being too slow on route. Rescues are so common for this route that Search and Rescue even has an information board at the trail head detailing the descent trail with a link to a downloadable GPS map. Epinephrine is not a route to be taken lightly by beginners.
Epinephrine is most famous for its 500 feet of chimney climbing, which you would be hard pressed to find a similar feature anywhere else in the world. This famous chimney is extremely difficult to prepare for and the style of climbing you will encounter. Indian Creek style cracks in the back of the chimney will help the well versed crack climber, but it will still be mandatory to bust out some strenuous 5.9 chimney climbing for a majority of the chimney. This is not a common feature in most climbing areas and would be very hard to practice for. Luckily, we have a few crags local to Red Rock that we like to take climbers to prepare for what you will encounter in the chimney.
We are looking for you to have a certain amount of experience to attempt to climb Epinephrine:
-You are confident following 5.10a trad climbs
-You have climbed several grade III multi pitch routes (bonus points if you have climbed grade IV)
-You have experience crack climbing and confident in your hand jams
-You have experience climbing chimneys or will do a chimney prep day
-You have the stamina for non-stop strenuous labor for 10-14 hours
Lastly, if you are unsure of your stamina and you want to test yourself consider this: Take a day with your climbing partner to do a “mock Epi” gym day. First hike 1.5 miles with a 25 lbs pack ending at your climbing gym. (Let’s assume your gym has 50 foot climbing walls.) Climb 17, 5.9-5.10a routes. Climb 17, 5.7-5.8 routes. Finish with 11, 5.4-5.6. When finished with those 45 pitches, hike another 2 miles with a 25 lbs pack. Were you able to do that in less than 10 hours? Did it feel easy or impossible? This exercise should give you a good idea of where you stand as far as physically being able to complete Epinephrine.
Alternative climbing routes in the Red Rock: Black Orpheus, Dark Shadows to the top. Community pillar is an ok prep climb, as well as Dream of Wild Turkeys,
Thomas Gilmore, AMGA Guide
Mountain Skills Rock Guides, LLC