On June 9th, 2023 Sean Sasser and I climbed the ultra classic Epinephrine. I've been to Red Rock several times and climbed almost all of the classics so I was looking forward to this one for a long time, and it didn't disappoint!

We got fantastic shade all day, sharing the route with only one other party. Being my first long climb of the year in warmer weather we slightly misjudged our water and ran out just short of the top, but kept our outing short of an epic. Overall it was a great day, especially because we got to end it with the best vegan tacos (at the local chain Tacotarian) and a margarita.

Trip Report

Neither of us slept very well and when they alarm went off at 4:30 we both pushed back a few hours so we could wake up around 7 instead, putting us hiking in around 8 and hopefully starting the climb around 9. This actually turned out to be a good decision as far as shade was concerned. After a few of the usual meanders back and forth across the wash (I think I make the same mistake every time I go to Black Velvet wall) we did in fact start climbing right around 9. This put us in the shade on the chimney pitches, we got lucky with cloud cover midday around the top of the Black Tower, and got afternoon shade in the upper pitches, only roasting in the sun briefly on the second pitch and on the descent.

Starting up the first pitch, headed for the right facing corner above in the shadows

The chimney pitches were every bit as good as we hoped, intimidating and airy with great exposure. There was a distinct squeeze chimney crux in the second to last one. We did opt for a small pack to share, and if I had to do it over, I'd have the leader haul the bag rather than have the follower trail it. Otherwise they were amazing and left my quads burning.

Second chimney pitch with a party ahead of us. Looking up at the third and fourth chimney pitches.
Do I go under the rope or over here? Start of the third chimney.
Looking down the third chimney pitch.
Up the fourth and last chimney

We were moving quite well but didn't anticipate how much energy multiple chimney pitches would take out of us so we ended up a bit tired in the top half. We also encountered some wildlife; a swallow nesting in one of the cracks, a hummingbird visit, and some bees swarming a bush next to our belay. The face climbing in the upper half was really good, but a bit run out at times with a few bolt hangers that spun. I ran out of water a pitch or two short of the top, convincing Sean to take my last pitch in our rotation and I'd lead the large block of easy climbing to the "pine tree" and the official end of the climb. I had underestimated the warmer temps a bit, even though we were in the shade.

On the Elephant's Trunk, just after the top of the Black Tower.
Almost to the top!

We topped out, made a right and simul climbed our way to the pine tree. We finally got the full sun while we coiled the rope and re racked for the descent. If I do the route again I'll pack an extra disposable water to put in the emergency cache on top of the route for the inevitable thirsty climbers.

The pine tree marking the end of the route and the search and rescue team emergency cache.
Starting the descent off Black Velvet Peak

The descent went fine. Having the map was useful, it's very tempting to drop down into a descent gully a bit too early. We made good work of it and got back to the car before sundown. After stretching and enjoying some water and cold pomegranate juice from my cooler we headed off for vegetarian tacos at Tacotarian.

The "I just want to get down" rope coil

Weather, Clothing, Food

The forecast for Red Rock Canyon was a high of 84 and partly cloudy. It was sunny almost all morning and afternoon, but we got some great cloud cover right in the middle of the day when we needed it (the bottom pitches get morning shade and the top pitches get afternoon shade).

I had about 2000 calories in gels and a bar, with about another 1000 calories of drink mix in my water. I brought 2 L and ran out two pitches below the simul section at the end. We were quite thirsty on the descent but probably only slightly to moderately dehydrated.

For gear we had a 60 M single rope, 8 alpine draws, 6 regular draws, a double length sling, a small rack of nuts with two Tricams, black through green Alien cams, yellow through black Metolius, a purple and green Totem, and doubles of #1 through #4 Camalot. We felt like the double 3s and 4s were definitely nice to have, but we didn't feel like we needed a #5.

Time Splits

We started hiking at 8 am on the dot and got back to the car at 6:45 pm, putting us out there for about 10 hours and 45 minutes in total.

  • Parking lot to base and rack up ~1h10m
  • Base to top of the black tower ~4h
  • Top of black tower to the pine tree ~4h15m
  • Parking lot to pine tree 9h15m
  • Descent 1h30m

When I checked my watch at the pine tree it managed to stop itself at that moment, so the recordings are split up.

Epinephrine approach and climb - John S.’s 13.4 mi workout
Watch stopped at the pine tree so descent is separate. Great route!
Epinephrine descent - John S.’s 1.9 mi workout
Watch stopped at the pine tree so descent is separate. Great route!