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Areas in *The Waterfall*

Double Clutching Wall, The 17 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 17
Gravity Wall 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1
Left Wall, The 48 / 5 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 50
Main Amphitheater, The 27 / 4 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 28
Right Wall, The 36 / 3 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 38
Elevation: 6,000 ft
GPS: 34.931, -111.733 Google Map · Climbing Map
Shared By: JJ Schlick on Jun 14, 2009
Admins: Greg Opland, Luke Bertelsen, JJ Schlick


"It was a kid in a candy store story. Moving to Flagstaff from the San Francisco Bay Area, I just thought all the good rock had been climbed. Putting up routes at the Waterfall freed my mind, and allowed me to go and succeed on routes I otherwise would have never tried to lead at The Forks... All the dangerous ones."

Darren Singer

Over the last thirty years The Waterfall has quietly become one of the most concentrated selections of hard traditional climbing in the country. This broad columnar basalt amphitheater is stacked with splitter cracks, and nervy gear protected face climbing along seams. It is a powerful place which commands respect from many, and is considered world class in the single pitch trad game.

The Waterfall is an exceptional crag, and home to well over one hundred trad routes on good to excellent basalt. Though there are a few scattered moderates, the climbing here really starts at solid 5.10, and there are 25+ pitches in the grade. Stepping into the 5.11 dreamland often brings thin gear, steep jamming, hard stemming, or otherwise serious cranking. There are 50+ pitches in the grade. The 5.12 climbing at the Waterfall is really special, and if you like the harder routes at Paradise Forks, then you are in for a treat here. There are 40+ pitches in the grade, many of which are plenty steep enough to log some flight time...if need be, of course. On top of all that there is a generous handful of 5.13 trad lines here that are long, thin, and some of the burliest gear climbing in the greater Flagstaff/Sedona area, if not all of Arizona. Most of the lines stretch to one hundred feet or more, and are equipped with modern anchors.

The first known route at the Waterfall was done by local legends Tim Toula and John Gault in 1981. The route was No Feelings, and at 5.10+ this steep hands crack still delivers to this day. Tim also established Double Clutching in 1986. However, the enormous potential would be overlooked as many of this generations talents were spent climbing the harder lines at Paradise Forks and bagging summit FAs in Sedona.

In the early nineties an NAU grad student named Darren Singer arrived on the scene and took a good assessment of the place. In the span of just a few years and with the help of Daniel Miller and Jason Keith, they established a good majority of the obvious splitter routes on the Left Wall, and some other well known routes on the Right Wall. It was a productive time with classic crack lines such as Black and Tan 5.10+, Spite and Malice 5.10+, Giardia Crack 5.11+, Locks of Dread 5.12, and The Terminator 5.12 were all opened up for business.

It would be another ten some years before the next flurry of development. In early 2000, Dan Foster, JJ Schlick, and Seth Dyer started looking closer at the undone lines on the Right Wall. There they discovered positive edges, perfect solution pockets, and wavering thin cracks that all added up to some serious climbing of a more technical nature. Toe grinding classics such as Soldier Of Fortune 5.11-, Natural Enhancement 5.11, The Harder They Come 5.11+, American Ceasar 5.12, Full Steam Ahead 5.12-, A Wonderful Life 5.12, and Sweet Dreams 5.12 R, and more were all added to a growing list of burly routes.

Another stretch of years would roll by before JJ, Wade Forrest, and James Q Martin would set their focus on exploring the numerous undone lines in The Main Amphitheater. Fade to Black would be the first new route on this wall in sixteen years. The black section of the cliff, the falls so to speak had finally been entered into. After this pitch was completed, it was obvious that any solid feature up this wall would be stellar, and so it was to be. A few of the modern classics include The Darkest Hour 5.11-, Dark Arts 5.11, False Prophet 5.11+, Death And Taxes 5.11+, Fade to Black 5.12, Pressure Drop 5.12+, and There Will Be Blood 5.12+.

And the development continues to this day with David Bloom, John Crawley, Joel Unema, and others as they uncover more excellent pitches hidden in the folds of these giant columns. Some of the insta-classics to fall in the last couple years include Inz and Outz 5.12, In A Blunt 5.12, Wolverine 5.13-, Thin Faith 5.13, The Trident 5.13-, and Joel's test pieces Gemini Dragonfire 5.13+, and East Coast Fist Bump 5.14- which now holds the coveted spot of being Arizona's most difficult, all gear trad line. Not to mention it's one of only a handful of 5.14 trad routes in the country. Amazing hard routes, and I don't think they are done yet...

The layout presented here is a streamlined version, and a more in depth breakdown is given in the guide Sedona Rocks, Bloom and Wolfe. The approach deposits you in the middle of the Main Amphitheater. The Left Wall (which includes the Tombstone Area, The Pinnacle Area, and The Sword Area) is on the climber's left as you face the falls, and faces east. The Right Wall (aka The Fall Wall) is on the climber's right, and faces west. To get to the Double Clutching Wall walk two minutes down the Right Wall until you round a very conspicuous corner. The Gravity Wall is just a bit past the DCW. Like other crack concentrated areas, once you figure out where a few pitches are, it is relatively easy to locate the others in relation.

A cool aspect of the area is that each wall has it's own unique flavor of trad climbing.

The Left Wall boasts some truly amazing cracks. Be ready with fat racks, masochistic hands/fingers, strong toes, and a sense of adventure!

The Main Amphitheater is both intriguing, and intimidating with it's bulging crown of steep rock. Many of the routes here are mixed pro, both gear and bolts, which opens up some spectacular terrain.

The Right Wall is a mostly vertical collection of thinner lines with more technical cruxes. You can expect to find excellent crimps and gas pockets which make otherwise impossibly smooth sections of rock climbable. The harder routes on this wall require thin gear, and the ability to place it well while on the run. The Right Wall also has several excellent warmups.

The Double Clutching Wall boasts the most amount of sun, and a slew of striking finger crack pitches. This south facing wall is a nice place to hang when the temps are on the cool side, and the winds are soft. This area also boasts the most amount of protection from random rockfall.

These days it is a real advantage to bring a good 70M rope. Though many of the routes here are within 90-105 feet tall, there are many rope stretchers here including such classics as Spite and Malice and No Feelings, so watch those rope ends when lowering

Many, but not all of the anchors do have biners on them. Please leave them as the anchor may be specifically set up for them. If one is worn past your comfort level, just leave one of yours, and chalk one up for the community at large.

ALSO, I CAN NOT STRESS ENOUGH THE DANGER OF THIS AREA IN WET CONDITIONS. The top layer of choss that rings the entire cliff is extremely loose. One can encounter random rock fall on perfect days because of a stiff breeze or birds tussling about high above, but to be up there in heavy rain, or even after a good soaking is not a good idea. At least not at the base of the routes. I have personally watched 100' wide sections of choss fall from well above the routes. If you have a helmet, this is a good place to bring it. I have been inches away from being clobbered several times.

Getting There

Roughly 4-5 miles north of Sedona, on the west side of Hwy 89a is a parking area called Encinoso Picnic Area. Just north of the Encinoso Picnic area is a small 6 to 8 car pullout on the east side of the highway on a very conspicuous bend in the road. This spot is the usual climbers parking, though it is shared with creek goers, fishermen, and general tourists. Be considerate when parking and taking up space.

From this parking area the crag can be seen up on the eastern side of Oak Creek Canyon. Clamber down through a well traveled notch in the cliff band to the creek. Boulder hop across the creek, then hike 30 seconds north, on the east side of the creek, past a short smooth sandstone wall. When the wall ends start looking for traveled paths through the shrubbery.

There may be cairns, maybe not. Climb up well traveled tree roots, and death blocks to gain the drainage proper. Hike up basalt boulders and after about 4-5 minutes there will be a very isolated sandstone bench. This is a nice place to stretch the legs. After this bench, stay in the drainage navigating various obstacles until you are face to face with The Main Amphitheater. You will only get a few glimpses of the crag during the approach. 30-45 minutes.

High water conditions can make it a challenge to cross the creek, and you may even find it unpassable at times, especially in early spring.

134 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at *The Waterfall*

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
The Sword
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
Black and Tan
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
Smilin' Jay
5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b
Spite and Malice
5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b
No Feelings
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
The Bootlegger
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c
Lord Humongous
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c PG13
Natural Enhancement
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a
The Chronic
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a
Giardia Crack
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a
False Prophet
5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
American Caesar
5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b
Flashflood Left Wall 5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad
The Sword Left Wall 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad
Black and Tan Main Amphitheater 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad
Smilin' Jay Right Wall 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad
Spite and Malice Left Wall 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b Trad
No Feelings Right Wall 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b Trad
The Bootlegger Right Wall 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Trad
Vertebrae Left Wall 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c Trad
Lord Humongous Main Amphitheater 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c Trad
Natural Enhancement Right Wall 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c PG13 Trad
The Chronic Double Clutching Wall 5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a Trad
Giardia Crack Left Wall 5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a Trad
False Prophet Main Amphitheater 5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a Trad
American Caesar Right Wall 5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Trad
Terminator Left Wall 5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b Trad
More Classic Climbs in *The Waterfall* »

Weather Averages

Days w Precip
Prime Climbing Season
Derek Field
Flagstaff, AZ
Derek Field   Flagstaff, AZ
Made it to the Waterfall for the first time. Two things live up to the hype:
(1) The quality of climbing here is ridiculously good. I'm not sure I've ever been to a place with such a high concentration of clean, sustained trad lines.
(2) During or weeks after monsoon season, the rockfall hazard is overwhelming, Sep 6, 2017
James Xu
2005 Ford E-150
James Xu   2005 Ford E-150

Went up earlier today and came upon a good-sized section of the approach trail (right before the last narrow sandstone canyon before the top) completely obliterated and covered by a large rock-slide that happened very recently.

The upper-half of the approach has been pretty damaged and filled up, but it still goes. Don't get suckered up the rock-slide drainage even though it looks like a good path (we saw footprints going up it from climbers and hikers and they said it was horrendous).

Also be aware of snowmelt and changing water levels during this time of year. When we hiked up in the morning, there was a mild flow going down the drainage. In the evening, there was so much water pumping through it covered most of the upper and lower trail and we had to bushwhack along the hill in sections which made for a fun adventure. After large snowfall, spikes in temperatures usually create high run-off which usually peaks once a day.

It's been said many times before, but bring a helmet especially during this time of the season when the freeze-thaw cycle seems to be coming full circle. May the odds be ever in your favor! Feb 5, 2017
Sam Thompson
Tucson, AZ
Sam Thompson   Tucson, AZ
Only chiming in to add onto the need for helmets! While belaying on Black & Tan, what sounded like a baseball sized rock fell from the overhanging rock and crashed three feet away from me, and it didn't come from my climber. Besides that, fantastic area! Mar 28, 2016
This is a public service announcement reminding everyone to wear helmets and be vigilant about the dangers of rock fall! While lowering off of phlegm of fury after cleaning the anchor today, the rope dislodged a bowling ball sized rock that struck the climber below and necessitated a rapid evacuation. While we were lucky no one was gravely injured, it could have ended much differently. Stay safe out there! May 17, 2015
JJ Schlick
Flagstaff, AZ
JJ Schlick   Flagstaff, AZ  
Bummer. It's the first break in I've heard of there. I hope it doesn't become a trend. Dec 18, 2014
Nat T.
Flagstaff, AZ
Nat T.   Flagstaff, AZ
Just a heads up for everyone, after a day of climbing here on a Tuesday we came back to our car to find my passenger window smashed and broken. My wife had her purse stolen, which admittingly may have been in plain sight. I'm pretty sure we were the only car in the pull out that day as well so there weren't a lot of people around. We filed a police report but hopefully this was a fluke for the area since we climb here a lot. Just be sure to lock your car and leave all valuables out of sight, or better yet take them with you! Dec 18, 2014
Casey Niggemyer
Flagstaff, Arizona
Casey Niggemyer   Flagstaff, Arizona
Hi, I think you may have found my shoes! Are they a pair of women's lace up Miuras? Size 42 I believe? Nov 25, 2014
manuel rangel
manuel rangel   Arizona
I found a pair of shoes at the Waterfall yesterday. Name them and they're yours. They were at the bottom of the Sword. Nov 25, 2014
Tucson, AZ
Geir   Tucson, AZ
Made my first trip to the waterfall today. Met up with Darren, Joel, Karie (sp?), Eric, JJ, and Wade. Clay convinced me to make the trip up from Tucson.

This place is the best single pitch climbing area I have visited other than New River Gorge. Thanks to the many people who spent time to carefully develop this astounding place. I cannot wait to climb here again!!! Dec 22, 2013
Robbie Brown
Flagstaff, AZ
Robbie Brown   Flagstaff, AZ
Although there is a bit of choss, the quality of the climbing is outstanding even on the 2 star climbs! This is by far the best hard gear-climbing crag i have ever been to. Period! Oct 17, 2013
JJ Schlick
Flagstaff, AZ
JJ Schlick   Flagstaff, AZ  
Congratulations to Joel Unema for sending every route on the four major walls of the Waterfall Area! As far as I know he is the first to do so. You're making your people proud Joel. May 16, 2013
Tim Heid   AZ
Great! Thanks for the info JJ and the timely response. Apr 27, 2012
JJ Schlick
Flagstaff, AZ
JJ Schlick   Flagstaff, AZ  
Hey Tim, The left wall gets morning sun, afternoon shade, and vice versa for the right. Double Cluthing is pretty much sun all the time. We've climbed there through the summer, though the mornings were very early and we were done by 1:00 in the afternoon... Apr 26, 2012
Tim Heid   AZ
Hi all,

Can someone let me know when the wall is in the sun/shade during the summer? Is it possible to climb some/any sections of the wall in hotter weather?

Thanks! Apr 26, 2012
flagstaff, AZ
markguycan   flagstaff, AZ
copy of MP topos/descriptions left at the base of Lord Humongous for everyone to use. Apr 13, 2011
M Sprague
New England
M Sprague   New England  
This place looks absolutely gorgeous. Sorry to read about the stuff getting lifted. As someone who also does FAs, I know how it is sometimes completely impractical not to sometimes leave fixed ropes up or stash gear. It is usually not at all a case of being disrespectful to an area or other users or a case of laziness. There is absolutely no excuse for somebody to steal stuff like that.
I hope some time to be able to visit this area. The lines look superb and the setting amazing. Feb 25, 2011
Darren Singer
Portland, OR
Darren Singer   Portland, OR
Hey Jeremy and Crew! What a job you do as caretakers of such an amazing resource. I often wondered what the 'next generation' would do with this scarcely realized/appreciated destination. Though I haven't been there in years, it is still fresh in my mind.

Nice picture of climber on Terminator here at Mtn Project. I can guess the thoughts going through the leader's head...

Lastly, what a surprise to see a nice high rez shot of someone sending Super Chronic in the climbing mag this month. The Waterfall hits the BIG TIME. I remember watching the boyz "prep" themselves before FA of an aptly-named The Chronic a long time ago...

I am psyched to get back for a visit sometime and see what you guys have done! Feb 12, 2011
JJ Schlick
Flagstaff, AZ
JJ Schlick   Flagstaff, AZ  
Thanks Dean... As I was thinking about the situation late saturday night, it dawned on me that whoever left this mess and callously swiped my gear must have had a really bad day, and probably an embarrassing one as well... The evidence does suggest that they tried to climb the route (A more than obvious work in progress!) and got to the wide section and didn't have the gear or the cajones to finish it. Then (I am guessing because of inexperience) they finagled their retreat via our work rope, instead of just leaving gear or a leaver biner behind... The evidence points more to this theory than any other. One way or the other, it is disrespectful and immature at the best, and I won't go into the worst.

IT IS IMPORTANT THAT FOLKS KNOW THAT THERE ARE STILL A LOT OF NEW ROUTES GOING IN AT THIS CRAG! You may encounter a fixed line now and again, as well as, stashed gear. If it is not yours, please don't run off with it. Have some respect for yourself, and others..... Especially if those "others" are the ones who replaced 90% of the old trashy anchors, and continue to put up classic routes out of our love for the game.

Dec 13, 2010
JJ, I'm sure I'll talk to you soon but I just wanted to speak up and say in this public venue that I find it quite disheartening that anyone that would frequent the Waterfall would demonstrate such lack of respect. I'm sure some online rabble rouser will try and make a statement about ethics, abandoned gear, or some other such nonsense, so let me try to head that off and say that if you're willing to climb a route that someone else has dedicated so much time and effort to you should recognize that such efforts are not completed in a day and to steal gear and tie ropes in knots is comparable to walking into an artists studio and destroying half painted canvases or smashing the unfinished marble block in a sculptors workshop. This is not a demonstration of ethics, more an expression of poor moral standing and selfish cowardice. To truly make a statement one should claim their actions and stand tall and confident in their views, rather than slink around behind false online monikers or anonymous theft and vandalism. Regardless of ones opinions on "bootied" gear I don't believe anyone could mistake a route in progress for stuck or abandoned gear. I for one find the theft of your gear deplorable and would like to use this online venue to thank you for all your hard work creating high quality, visionary, and highly enjoyable routes in multiple areas. I can only hope that this has been a misguided mistake and that the individual responsible will come forward and apologize. Again, JJ thanks for your hard work and dedication to widening the climbing opportunities in NAZ.
Dec 12, 2010
JJ Schlick
Flagstaff, AZ
JJ Schlick   Flagstaff, AZ  
Had a great day at the Waterfall today despite finding an unfinished new route of ours stripped of gear, and our "work line" tied in knots... Please have some respect for those that go way out of our way to MAINTAIN, and ADD NEW ROUTES to this area... I really hope this was just a misjudgment on someones part, that doesn't realize that there are new routes going in up here all the time, and occasionally fixed lines and stashed gear will be encountered. Dec 11, 2010
Josh Janes    
I heart the Super Forks. Jun 13, 2009

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