Volunteer Canyon Rock Climbing
|GPS:||35.12, -111.935 Google Map · Climbing Area Map|
|Page Views:||34,689 total · 354/month|
|Shared By:||Jed G on Dec 27, 2009|
|Admins:||Greg Opland, Luke Bertelsen, JJ Schlick|
DescriptionNorthern Arizona basalt canyon, near Paradise Forks. Up to 300ft routes. Lots of Adventure. This place is Worthy and the camping is the best part.
"Volunteer Canyon does host some of the tallest columnar basalt in NAZ, but probably not in a way you would like to imagine. Compared to Paradise Forks, Volunteer Canyon is wild, blocky, unkempt, often loose, dirty, and seldom visited. Though there is a growing number of neo classics to be found, It is still a place to get away from the crowds and explore your sense of adventure. The scenery and the over all vibe of the place is worth the visit. And for some, will lead to many more. It is an amazing canyon which intimidates, invites, and inspires.
For decades Volunteer Canyon was known by local climbers as The Cwm, which is a Whelsh word for a steep cirque. I believe it was Scott Baxter who first started calling it The Cwm.
Surprisingly, this area was climbed at before the discovery of Paradise Forks. After that fateful finding of the Forks however, Volunteer turned into a ghost town, back water area which was known for having terrible road access, hard to find established routes, and poorly maintained lines due to neglect. The easily accessed Paradise Forks eclipsed Volunteer, and development here came to a grinding halt. More modern development through the 80's and 90's continued in the form of infrequent, short bursts by folks who worked in quiet, and did not leave much of their coming and going. Volunteer is now receiving the proper attention it always deserved with modern classics being born or rediscovered every short season."
Most of the routes listed here require rapping into specific belay points or ledges. Bringing an ascender and a grigri down to the belay is prudent in case the need arise to retreat up your fixed line. This canyon is known for moving wind around, and the belays can take a while, so dress accordingly. You can always haul stuff out on the fixed line.
THE NORTH SIDE is home to such age old classics as Tralfamadore 5.9+, and Beautiful Day 5.8+. It is a stunning series of columns and quite a lot to take in the first time you see it. New age classics such as The Lost Highway, Green Knight, and White Hawk should keep you happily dancing in the sun.
THE SOUTH SIDE is a collection of unique walls, with routes scattered about in the folds of it's teetering columns. Home to the Canary Cracks which were first lead in the 1970s, as well as some more modern endeavors which certainly expand the scope of NAZ basalt, and it's classic lines. While having to rap into specific belays is time consuming, it does allow one to clean the route on the way down. This side sees regular dirt runoff during seasonal rains. A tooth brush will do wonders.
CAMPING- The South Side hosts the camping on off roads that parallel the canyon, and eventually will lead you to a beautiful open point. The camping is as good as it gets, but please keep it clean, and haul out your trash, drown your campfires, and dispose of waste properly.
Getting ThereFrom Flagstaff head west on Interstate 40 towards Williams. Exit at the Parks Exit, and head south on FR 141. Follow that until the junction of 527 (also looking for "Boy Scout Camp" signs at this point), and take a left. Stay on 527 for almost two miles where there will be another junction (FR 530), take a right. In a half mile, take a left back onto FR 527. Follow this for two miles and eventually you will literally cross over the very top of the canyon. After you go through the wash, look for roads on the right for parking on the South Side.
That being said, these roads see a lot of abuse, seasonal closures, are choked with boulders, and are of otherwise I'll temper. A 4X4 will be needed in anything but perfect dry conditions. A high clearance vehicle minimum, and expect to drive pretty slowly. With a good vehicle it takes about 45 minutes from Flagstaff and is roughly 30 miles, however the bad section is only a three mile final stretch.
Classic Climbing Routes at Volunteer Canyon
Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
Days w Precip
Prime Climbing Season