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Advice For One Day Of Climbing Around Sedona
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By Eric G.
From Saratoga Springs, NY
Sep 2, 2014
Hopefully some kind soul can point me in the right direction...

The wife and I will be in Sedona the first week in October as part of a vacation with the entire family. We have their blessings to get away for a day of climbing, but we are not sure where to go/what to climb and are hoping someone might kindly offer some advice.

I see here on MP that the classics start at 5.9. Here in the Adirondacks, I am a not-so-solid 5.9 onsight trad climber (I usually get the onsight, but it is a big mental deal to me), and in the Gunks I am slightly more solid 5.9 onsight climber.

As such, it strikes me as foolish to walk up to, say, Sedona's Scenic Cruise and embark on multiple pitches of unfamiliar desert climbing at my relative limit as my introduction to the area.

Any advice on where I should climb? Cragging or multipitch suggestions? Beta for a fund day? Devious approaches to be avoided? Cool spots not to be missed?

Thank you in advance for any help, we really appreciate it.

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By Dillon Metcalfe
From Flagstaff, AZ
Sep 2, 2014
Queen Victoria Spire is a classic, entry-level spire in the Sedona area.

mountainproject.com/v/queen-vi...

You get a little bit of everything. It is a fantastic summit for the grade, with a spectacular view. David Bloom's "Sedona Rocks" book has more information in the approach, but it's not too hard by Sedona standards.

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By Dow Williams
From Saint George, UT
Sep 2, 2014
Dow Williams, 2011
Scenic Cruise is one of the most tame of all the routes I have done in Sedona...you might want to take a second look at it...

Queen Victoria is a big step down...but if you are looking to make a smaller day of it, quite scenic in its own right...


Sedona Spire Climbs

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By Eric G.
From Saratoga Springs, NY
Sep 2, 2014
Dow, your summitpost page is very helpful, thank you! Am I correct in understanding that you recommend no gear below a .5, and likely no nuts?

Also, does Sedona have a reputation for scary and/or sandbagged climbing? A quick google search revealed some possibly tongue-in-cheek comments about easy, safe routes...

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By KevinD
From Scottsdale, AZ
Sep 2, 2014
Dr. Rubo's wild ride is a fun 5.9 with a short approach with a very secure crux pitch being a 5.9 hand crack and a bolt protected 1 move wonder mantle move. Can rap with a single rope

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By Dow Williams
From Saint George, UT
Sep 2, 2014
Dow Williams, 2011
Single set of C4's: #.3 to #4. Doubles from #.5 to #2. I led all the pitches and placed no passive pro. My wife was my second, she had a good time which means it was a mild route (no exposed traverses or jumps).

I also echo Kevin's sentiment about Dr.Rubo, another mild 5.9 with even a milder approach than Scenic.

Eric, no more so than any other desert destination. Zion, Moab Towers and Sedona have some sandbagged (pun intended) routes...but like anywhere else, it usually has to do with age of the route (grading was far different in the 70's-80's), less than optimum quality rock (sandstone with less varnish than Red Rock), full on crack climbing (we avoid faces because it is sandstone) which many from big cities like Salt Lake or Boulder don't get enough experience at....so many times these area climbs read scarier than they really are when you are scrolling through summit logs.

The most popular climb in all of Sedona is the Mace which is an easy climb except for the second to last pitch which if you want to get it clean on lead...one is always amazed at how hard it is for the grade. Nothing on Dr Rubo or Scenic will come close to being that awkward.

Good luck with your trip...great time of year in Sedona....

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By gblauer
From Wayne, PA
Sep 2, 2014
As a regular Gunks climber who honeymooned in Sedona...One bit of advice:

Be careful how you climb this rock. It's much more fragile than the Gunks or the 'Daks. I broke more holds in the first 30 feet of climbing the Mace than I have in 12 years of climbing at the Gunks. I really had to (quickly) adjust my climbing style.

The Mace was an awesome climb, just be prepared for some unprotectable chimney stuff.

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By Eric G.
From Saratoga Springs, NY
Sep 2, 2014
Thank you everybody. Really helpful advice.

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By Paul Zander
From Flagstaff, AZ
Sep 2, 2014
Goliath Summit Shadows
Mars Attacks is another great option. The hardest climbing is 5.9 slab climbing protected by closely spaced bolts. The gear protected climbing isn't any harder than 5.6. Just don't fall off the 2nd pitch traverse or you'll be hanging in space! (bring prussiks and you're good)

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By Paul Davidson
Sep 3, 2014
If you haven't climbed on sandstone before and 5.9 is your comfort lead zone, you might want to think about Queen Victoria.

Scenic Cruise and Mars Attack are both great moderates for the area, but this is a different game.

Personally, I would never get on a route in Sedona without passive gear. But that's me.

One thing I've seen folks new to the soft rock do is pass up gear placements. You don't want to do that unless you're really solid at the grade. Whippers here are not recommended.

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By manuel rangel
From Tempe, Arizona
Sep 5, 2014
Eric, I second Paul's advice: bring the passive gear. Not all of the routes are as easy to sew up with cams as Dr. Rubos.

I am constantly amazed at how many partners underestimate the need for nuts and hexes in sandstone. They worked originally and they are still great in Sandona!

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By Eric G.
From Saratoga Springs, NY
Sep 5, 2014
Thanks for the advice. I am a conservative trad climber (especially in new areas) - even though I asked for recommendations, there is no way I would head up without any passive pro. I am just trying to see how many perspectives I can gather.

Cheers!

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By Greg Opland
Administrator
Sep 5, 2014
Georgeous!
I'm kind of curious...lots of people have done it, so I have to ask.

Do you all agree with the statement above that the third pitch of Mars Attacks is 5.6

I'm not saying its that hard, but I'd call 5.6 a bit of a sandbag, IMHO.

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By DesertRat
Sep 5, 2014
I'd say that the 3rd pitch is 5.6.

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By Joe G
From Phoenix, AZ
Sep 5, 2014
Hey Eric , hope you have a great time in Sedona . I like scenic cruise and rubos both pro well, the approach for scenic cruise can be a bit tricky and long, yet well worth the effort . mars attacks is fun as well but take ratings from people on here with a grain of salt. The third pitch is a solid 5.8 but protects well and is great fun.

Cheers,
Joe

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By lou
Sep 5, 2014
Whitney portal.....bony fingers
Hey Eric; take it down a notch or two for your first lead climb in Sedona! Place gear every body length; and hope that does it! Forget Dr Rubos and the Mace! For those climbs you should be a solid .10 leader with experience with sandstone. Have seen trad climbers competent in crack hang an struggle on those. You want an enjoyable time; not some sandbagged opinion from someone feeding their ego!

Yes do Mars attacks! Totally fun... crux is slab first pitch.. so its over early.. great scenery..and a really cool unique traverse! Approach is a cruise.

YMMV..

cheers lou

p.s. I echo Mannys opinion! Always bring your nuts!

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By NC Rock Climber
From The Oven, AKA Phoenix
Sep 6, 2014
tanuki
Agree with everything Lou said, except his opinion about Mars Attacks. YMMV, but I think that the placement of the first bolt (well into ankle busting territory) makes the first pitch just as serious, if not more so, than Dr Rubios. Then again, it has been a few years since I did that climb, and I tend to be a puss when it comes to slab. The rest of Mars Attacks is an absolute blast!

If you don't have your heart set on Sedona or just want to try some single pitch, take a look at The Overlook.

mountainproject.com/v/the-over...

It is not nearly as committing as the multi-pitch climbs that have been discussed, but the rock is stellar, the views are amazing and the approach is VERY short.

The Sedona / Oak Creek Canyon area is incredible and the climbing in the area is top notch. Whatever you decide to do, I hope you have a great time.

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By Marcy
From Tempe/Tuscon, AZ
Sep 6, 2014
the tornado
I'd give Mars pitch 3 a 5.8 with good protection.

Regarding the first pitch...I once saw someone traverse over to the crack on the left before the first bolt, place a piece, then cruise the rest of the pitch. The crux on P1 is not getting to the first bolt, but that extra piece made apparently made all the difference. The actual crux is right by a bolt, so the risk is not too high if you peel off.

First time in Sedona for something casual I'd go with Queen Vic. Approach isn't too bad and you get a pretty cool summit. MA is great, but you don't get the summit :)

Have a great time. Sedona is rad!

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By Dow Williams
From Saint George, UT
Sep 8, 2014
Dow Williams, 2011
Paul Zander wrote:
Sorry, didn't mean to sandbag anyone with the 5.6 rating on P3 of Mars Attacks. Just my personal opinion, obviously some agree and some don't, such is the nature of ratings. I agree Queen Vic is the perfect 1st choice, especially since it gets you on a spectacular summit. But would others agree Mars Attacks is a nice intermediate step between Queen Vic and Rubos/Scenic Cruise for someone who is new to Sedona?


The issue is not difficulty of the moves, Mars Attack is one of the few routes I have soloed in Sedona (am always confused when folks talk about the difficulty they have on the first pitch) and it has to be considered one of the easier routes in Sedona no doubt...but it is the exposure on the traverse...poster mentioned bringing along a 2nd who is not all that experienced or at least not a leader. My wife loved Scenic...she would not be thrilled with Mars because of the exposure on the traverse. Everyone is different, but she is my gauge for such things..when you climb a lot....it is hard to tell where the average comfort level sits....but exposed traverses will freak clients out more than 5.10 vertical based on my experience. We were working on a stellar new 5.10+/5.11- route in Black Velvet Canyon this weekend....incredible steep pitches....only bolt we did not argue about much(mostly all crack) was protecting a 5.7 traverse where there were consequences.

I do consider its brethren route, Big Corner , to have one of the finer single trad pitches in Sedona....Mars is worth consideration no question...


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