Northern Arizona (NAZ) is a vast and varied landscape of rolling ponderosa forests, high elevation plains, and sculpted sandstone deserts. Home to the Grand Canyon, the Painted Desert, the Mogollon Rim, the San Francisco Peaks, and some of the best whitewater on the Colorado River, NAZ is quite literally a sacred land to the Navajo and Hopi, as well as many a rock climber....
Climbing in NAZ really began in the late 1950's with the first ascent of the Mace in Sedona, done by visiting climbers, Bob Kamps, TM Herbert, and Dave Rearick. In the years to follow many of the major formations and summits throughout NAZ would be pioneered, and an age of vast exploration was on.
As Tim Toula writes in his classic guide, A Cheep Way To Fly, "I entered thru the historical gate of the Flagstaff climbing scene in the fall of 1978 when climbing still was much more of an underground sport than it is today. There was a mystique about climbing then that was hard to grasp. Perhaps it was because there were so few climbers then. Names like Baxter, Coats, Davidson, and later, Murray, Gault, and Mattson floated thru the air like phantoms. Their names heard often, but their talents seldom seen". Check this book out for a more comprehensive slice of the early history of NAZ climbing. At twenty some years old, this is still one of few sources for NAZ.
Steve Grossman (during his Royal Robbins phase) turns the Tralfador Roof on the second ascent in 1976. Paul Davidson belays. Volunteer Canyon, AZ
Now a days that list of names has grown tremendously as a constant stream of talent pours out of Flagstaff, which is the heart of the NAZ climbing scene. The age of exploration that began in the late 50's has not only continued to this day, but has blossomed into a collective energy that really defines the community here. The first decade of 2000 saw more new routes go in than any other time in our history, and there is always
something fresh to check out.
Check out Joel Unema's, Grass Routes Climbing, for stories and photos about local areas, and interviews with local route developers. It's a cool project and will hopefully turn into a means to record and revel in the colorful history of Northern Arizona rock climbing. grassroutesclimbing.com/
. NAZ has long been held as a bastion of traditional climbing, and with good reason. With crags like Paradise Forks, The Overlook, Volunteer Canyon, and The Waterfall in Oak Creek Canyon, NAZ is a trad climber's dream. Add to that the back country adventures of the Grand Canyon National Park, Hualapai Wall, and Sedona Area, you might just find yourself slipping into a heart pounding state of trad daddy nirvana.
If you are looking for sport routes you won't have to look too hard with the likes of the Winslow Wall, and Jacks Canyon to the East, Mt. Elden, Oak Creek Canyon, and The Pit (aka Le Petit Verdon) right around Flag, and of course, the Virgin River Gorge up North. Sport climbing is alive and well throughout NAZ. Whether you are looking for steep pockets, or off vertical crimps, the list of fine crags and excellent routes is sure to keep you happily swinging through the air, one way or another....
Joel Unema on the FA of Gemini Dragon Fire 5.13+, The Waterfall, Oak Creek Canyon.
Blake McCord Photography
And then there is the bouldering.... Flagstaff is world renown for it's pocketed limestone roofs at areas like Priest Draw, but these roofs are tucked away in folds all over NAZ. It also goes well beyond what you have seen, or may see in the media. And though the double digit lines keep adding up at places like the Draw and Cherry Canyon, even the beginning boulderer is going to find a slew of premiere challenges at crags like Buffalo Park, Lake Mary Bouldering, and Turkey Tanks. From the Fontainebleau like slopers of Kelly Canyon, to the sharp dacite crimps of Gloria's, Northern Arizona is a boulderer's paradise.
Local sport developing fiend, Matt Greco, unlocking Uncle Kentucky 5.13-, James Canyon, AZ
NAZ has some of the most pristine and unpolluted crags of anywhere I have been in the US. Please help us keep them that way.
Andrew Ryder wasting no time on Human Wasteland V6+, at the confluence of Kelly Canyon and Pump House Wash.
We tend to take care of our crags, and most of the routes listed here have adequate to excellent anchors or other fixed hardware, if they have any at all. However, one may encounter a few old, rotting pins in places like Sedona and in the Grand Canyon.
Many of the anchor systems throughout NAZ employ the "fixed carabiner" style anchor which is specifically set up for easy, safe lowering or rappelling. If one of the two carabiners is worn past the point of common sense, please leave one of yours in place and take the old one home with you. They make great conversation pieces....
And while a lot of the routes listed here are well traveled, it can be said that NAZ is full of adventurous climbing. Always check your holds if they appear suspect at all.
Flagstaff, AZ is a fairly small college town and liberal capitol of Arizona, though it also has an undeniable blue collar cowboy flair. Sitting at 7000' and tucked in between the Mogollon Rim to the south, and the San Francisco Peaks just north of town, Flagstaff is draped over historic Route 66, and has everything a visiting climber may need, including buffets and chain healthfood stores. Cheap motels, and plenty of public land for free camping. Groovy coffee houses, and late night entertainment downtown.
Leah Sandvoss on Moonjuice (5.11c), Upper Beach, Church Spires, Sedona, AZ
Photo by Andre Kiryanov
Rest days can be filled with excellent hiking and peak bagging, miles and miles of world class mountain biking, or deep and narrow Canyoneering adventures. Or just take it easy and wander about the historic downtown which is filled with gear shops, art galleries, brewpubs, and a few good restaurants.
Local Stone Here's a short list of local rock types and corresponding crags or areas which are either right around town or within an hour and half drive from Flagstaff. Basalt-
The Waterfall- trad
Paradise Forks- trad
Volunteer Canyon- trad Sandstone-
The Grand Canyon- trad
Winslow Wall- sport/ trad
Sedona- sport/ trad
The Doctor's Office- sport/ trad
Pump House Wash- sport/ trad
Kelly Canyon- bouldering Limestone-
The Pit- sport
Priest Draw- bouldering
Lake Mary- bouldering
Cherry Canyon- bouldering
Jacks Canyon- sport Dacite-
Mt Elden- sport/ trad
The Hobo Jungle- sport/ trad
The Peaks Crag- sport/ trad
Bill Williams Mt- sport/ trad
Jeff Snyder and Big Balls in Cowtown 5.12-R, Paradise Forks, Sycamore Canyon.
Local Photos The ever changing and often daunting landscapes of NAZ are a true sight to behold and climb in. The often expansive or tight horizons makes it difficult to capture with a lens. However, these brave local photographers and videographers have been capturing the essence of these wild and untamable lands for years or even decades. If you enjoy excellent photos, climbing and so much more, then you may want to do some clicking here. John Burcham johnburcham.tumblr.com/ James Q Martin jamesqmartin.com/photography/i... Tamara Hastie tamarahastie.com/ Blake McCord blakemccordphoto.com/index.htm...
Wade Forrest deep into the mysterious Mulva 5.11, Winslow Wall.
Dan Schwarz photo
Drive Times Approximate drive times from Flagstaff to...
Cochise Stronghold- 6.5 hours
Mt. Lemon- 6 hours
Hueco Tanks- 10 hours
Indian Creek- 5.5 hours
Yosemite Valley- 10 hours
The Needles (CA)- 10 hours
Joshua Tree- 5 hours
Red Rocks- 5 hours
Gyms- Flagstaff Climbing Center flagstaffclimbing.com
205 S. San Francisco St. Flagstaff, AZ 86001
Flagstaff Climbing Center (climbing gym, retail shop and guide service) is located in historic downtown Flagstaff. The center features over 7000 square feet of widely varied climbing terrain to suit all abilities and climbing styles including 40’ tall top rope and lead walls and bouldering area. Flagstaff Climbing is here today because of its commitment to support the climbing community though quality training facilities, expert instruction, informative equipment sales and a friendly atmosphere for all climbers. Main Street Boulders flagstaffclimbing.com
1519 N. Main St. Ste 107, Flagstaff, AZ 86004
Main Street Boulders (owned and operated by Flagstaff Climbing Center) is located on Main Street in Flagstaff. The bouldering gym features over 2000 square feet of widely varied state-of-the-art bouldering terrain, built by Vertical Solutions, to suit all abilities and climbing styles and a first-class training area to build strong climbers. Main Street Boulders is here today because of Flagstaff Climbing Centers commitment to support the climbing community though quality training facilities, expert instruction and a friendly staff. Beta Bouldering Gym betaboulderinggym.com/
495 s. River Run Rd. Suite 104, Flagstaff AZ 86001
Beta Bouldering Gym, Northern Arizona’s largest bouldering gym, is located just a few blocks from downtown Flagstaff and Northern Arizona University. Beta is a 6,000 square foot bouldering facility built by the local climbing community in 2012 to house the growing demand for a place to train, get strong and socialize. With climbing terrain carefully built for all abilities and two separate workout areas, Beta strives to provide the best indoor bouldering experience in Arizona.
Flagstaff Sports Exchange is another local, climber owned shop in town. babbittsbackcountry.com/
Babbits Backcountry Outfitters is right downtown, and covers the basics as far as climbing gear. aspensports.com/
Aspen Sports is right downtown, and covers the basics as far as climbing gear. peacesurplus.com/#
Peace Surplus is also right downtown, and covers the basics as far as climbing gear.
In the crux or past the crux? Another lap on one of the best in town :)
© James Q Martin
Three Turkeys 5.11, Paradise Forks
Flagstaff sits at the junction of Interstate 40 and Interstate 17 in north central Arizona.
1,724 Total Routes
['4 Stars',193],['3 Stars',777],['2 Stars',556],['1 Star',172],['Bomb',8]