Sterling Pass from the air!
Oak Creek Canyon is a Grand Daddy of Mogollon Rim drainages! This expansive canyon takes root in Flagstaff, but really starts just south of town in beautiful Pumphouse Wash. Oak Creek Canyon runs all the way down until it opens up at the entry of Munds Canyon from the east rim, and empties into Sedona. This canyon holds a myriad of side canyons, sub drainages, and a staggering amount of stone, climbing, exploration, and adventure to be had right off the heals of HWY 89.
There really is something for everyone in this canyon, starting out with the treasure of moderate traditional climbs to be found at the The Overlook. If you are learning to place gear, and get some leads under your belt, this is a fantastic area to create a foundation. Also a wonderful place to rip through them and enjoy the view for a day. Moderates hold the majority. I have moved this area to the *Flagstaff Crags Section due to it's proximity to town. Though this area clearly marks the entrance from the north, into Oak Creek Canyon. Anne Mariah Tapp on the Second Ascent of the Golden Sweater, The Odyssey Wall.
If you are looking for sport routes, then you have the options of The Doctor's Office which is the only "sport" crag in the canyon, or exploring the depths of Pumphouse Wash for more scattered moderate sport routes. Though the sandstone is soft, there are some excellent routes to discover, and some out of the way CLASSIC lines to track down.
Youngharz on the exposed moves out to the arete on Angels Delight, The Overlook.
Pumphouse Wash is also the stunning showcase of the The Ultimates these lines are a fabled collection of cherished, traditional routes that will test the best, up to 5.12+ fingers, and some burly offwidth if you are so inclined.... Lately some new multi pitch moderates have also been added. There is a lot to see down there, and some excellent "hot summer" swimming holes as well. Free Refills 5.10, The Doctors Office
Such an unique route!
Photo Credit to Moe Lauchert! moelauchert.com/
*The Waterfall now has well over 100 trad routes, with the majority of them going down in the 5.10+ through 5.13 range.You can expect splitter cracks, steep jug hauls, and very thin technical lines.The climbing really starts at solid 5.10 trad, and only gets exponentially better from there! Bring a 70M rope, a robust rack including a triple set of TCUs, and your game! Not a place for the faint of heart.
Darren Mabe on the FFA of Twist Of Fate 5.12+, The Ultimates Area, Pumphouse Wash.
Photo: Blake McCord
And, on top of all that, if you want to get in a superb sandstone bouldering session, The Anvil Boulders are a collection of wonderful and rare blocks all conveniently (or maybe not so because of the creek crossing?) located 200 yards on the East side of Oak Creek just a hop and skip drive north out of Sedona. V-easy to V-super-hard- inspiring! Some very cool steep lines! Find this area in the *Bouldering Northern Arizona section.
Colin Cox on the 'all or nothing' redpoint crux of There Will Be Blood 5.12+, The Waterfall.
Shot taken by Ian Kiersey.
Oak Creek Canyon is a treasure to many, and a focal point to climbers in this area for harboring a wide variety of crags, which can be intimidating, but also accessible year round, if you play your cards right. It is an awesome place to visit, and climb in, and an arduous place to explore off the beaten path! Watch out for tourists, rattle snakes, rock fall, hard approaches- and mellow ones, slow drivers (with their cameras stuck outside the window), soft sandstone, hard sandstone, and impeccable stone as well!
There is obviously much more to be found in this expansive canyon than is listed here.... Be ready to "earn your burns", and engage with an environment that always seems to be coming after you! Yah, you personally....
An intriguing landscape!
Take 89 south from Flagstaff, or north from Sedona.
Weather station 1.0 miles from here
219 Total Routes
['4 Stars',42],['3 Stars',129],['2 Stars',38],['1 Star',8],['Bomb',0]
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Latest Regional Forum Messages
A general overview of the layout of the Oak Creek ...
Oak Creek Canyon, AZ. March 09.
Looking across canyon from The Waterfall.
By Dean Hoffman
Jul 8, 2014
While y'all likely know that access in Oak Creek Canyon has been shut down for the immediate future as far as I know Sterling Pass will be climb able when they reopen the road.... There has been some confusion regarding reports of burns in Sterling Canyon, as far as I can tell Sterling Canyon and Sterling Pass are not the same.... If anyone has clarification on that it would be appreciated!
By JJ Schlick
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Jul 8, 2014
Hey Dean, Sterling Canyon runs into Oak Creek right at the switchbacks, just above the hatchery. It was a densely chocked canyon, more of a steep ravine really. Hiked it down from the rim once, and only once. I know why they had a hell of time fighting the fire in this area....