|Upper Oak Creek Canyon
BETA PHOTO: Underhanging Overhang (5.7), Celebration Wall, Oak...
A fine backcountry adventure. No crowds, little chalk, and great views. Also features some grungy rock and brush, and a little sandbagged at 5.7 by today's standards (some might call it 5.8).
Most pitches run about 120-150 feet. The belay points described by Handren (2007:114) are generally logically placed, although some pitches can be linked w/ a 60m rope.
Gear up near the creek, and 3rd class up the slabs for a couple hundred feet. Start P1 up a fractured left-facing corner to a broad ledge. P2 ascends the left-angling seam to a 2-person pod-shaped niche in the seam (P1 & P2 are easily linked).
P3 continues up the seam, which by now is opening up to a hand crack; stay left until you can gain a large white ledge on the right (60 m pitch). Ignore the strong temptation to continue up the left seam past the ledge (it looks like someone tried it and bailed, although it looks really fun).
Walk to the right side of the ledge and P4 climbs the massive left-facing corner to a nice small triangular ledge. P5 continues up the corner through a small roof and ends at the base of a varnished face on the right.
P6: we climbed a flared crack on the right side of the varnished face (sandbagged 5.7). Maybe there's an easier way directly up the face, but pro didn't look so good. End on a big white ledge.
P7 goes straight up the cleft in the overhanging buttress (another sandbagged pitch). Belay at the base of the next varnished face.
The last two pitches are shared with Catwalk. P8 climbs the fun and bomber 5.6 varnished face; P9 is a short scramble to the top. P8 & P9 are easily linked.
Clamber up Oak Creek to the base of Celebration Wall.
From the top, walk off to the left and circle down back to your packs; it's a beautiful descent when the waterslide is flowing.
We took 1-1/2 rack of cams to #4 C4, and used every one; doubles to hands couldn't hurt. Nuts were only used on P8 (although the 1975 FA surely used passive pro throughout). The pitches protect pretty well, but some of the belays required some imaginative anchors.
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