Monday, November 10, 2008

Route Profile: Epinephrine

Many climbers consider Red Rock Canyon's Epinephrine (5.9 IV+) to be one of the best routes of its grade in the world. With over fifteen pitches of climbing, Epinephrine is a phenomenal route that places one in an incredible position high above the Black Velvet Canyon.

The chimneys on Epinephrine are behind the pillar at the bottom of the wall.
Photo by Greg Barnes from

Many look at the moderate 5.9 grade and believe that this route will be a walk in the park. The reality is that Epi -- as the locals call it -- is a route that includes significant difficulties that one doesn't often encounter on a regular day out at the crags. Indeed, the route is known for one major feature: a long 5.9 chimney system.

The first third of Epinephrine is dominated by chimneys. These chimneys are incredibly smooth inside. Some have even equated them to glass. It often feels that the inch at a time gains inside the chimneys might be lost at any moment from a mild slip or fall. Difficult passage inside the chimneys are exacerbated by the fact that the route is so big that a pack is absolutely necessary. To move through the chimneys one must drag their pack between their legs.

Climbing the Chimneys on Epinephrine
Video by Richard Draves

A climber in a chimney on Epinephrine.
Photo by Richard Draves

Once the first third of the route is completed, the difficulties ease, but there is still over a thousand feet to climb. The second third of the route ascends an exposed headwall which drops off nearly a thousand feet. There is a great deal of 5.9 terrain in this section of the climb, but the climbing feels significantly easier than that of the chimneys. The 5.9 climbing in the central part of the route is "normal" 5.9. In other words, it feels like any 5.9 that one might find on one of the shorter routes in Red Rock. This section goes significantly faster than the first section.

The last third of the route climbs a massive mid-fifth class ramp. One climbs pitch after pitch after pitch of easy terrain that slowly allows altitude to be attained. Finally after traversing an exposed tree ledge, one finds himself at the base of an easy scramble which leads to the top of Velvet Peak.

Red Rock Canyon is famous for its moderate (5.6-5.9) multi-pitch routes. There are literally hundreds of them. At the upper end of moderate climbing, Epinephrine stands out as a spectacular and unforgettable adventure.

Great Links for Information about Epinephrine:
Supertopo Beta (Best Route Topo)
AAI Epinephrine Trip Report
Los Alamos Mountaineers Trip Report
Team Jammies Trip Report
Trip Report from
Camp4 Trip Report

--Jason D. Martin

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