Sawyer Wall Rock Climbing
|Shared By:||Trevor Bowman on Feb 11, 2015|
|Admins:||Greg Opland, Luke Bertelsen, JJ Schlick|
DescriptionThis compact buttress of featured Dacite offers a half-dozen worthwhile routes and provides another pleasant cragging venue on Flagstaff's backyard mountain. It's perched high on Elden, and although south-facing, is a good summer option as it's shaded in the morning and late afternoon/evening. The wall's position in a shallow ravine on the eastern flank of Elden generally shelters it from the strong winds of the spring and early summer.
Like the One Wall, the Sawyer Wall is approached from the top of Elden; this makes for a longer drive from town, but a shorter hike than most of the mountain's other crags. It is one of the most straightforward approaches of any of the Elden crags, since the cliff sits only a couple of hundred feet off of the Mt. Elden Lookout Trail. The bulk of the hike is on this well-established trail, with a minimal amount of off-trail rambling required to descend to the wall.
Getting ThereDriving Directions:
From Flagstaff, follow Highway 180/N. Fort Valley Road northwest. Turn right (east) on the Shultz Pass Road and follow this for about 1/4 mile to a junction where the Shultz Pass Road takes a hard left (north)-- stay straight ahead (east) on the Mt. Elden Lookout Road. Follow the Mt. Elden Lookout Road (starts pavement until the residential zone is passed and turns to graded dirt) past the West Elden crags and up the mountain. On the summit plateau, a spur (FS Road 557A) cuts off to the right (southwest) toward the communication towers on the Devil's Head--stay on the Mt. Elden Lookout Road and continue southeast toward the summit of Mt. Elden. Park off of the road in a small pullout on the left (north) at the saddle just before the road makes a final steep climb to the summit. This is about a 1/4 mile before the road is gated. There is room for a few vehicles in the pullout. The Mt. Elden Lookout Road was apparently regraded a couple of years ago, and is generally in good shape, although the heavy monsoon of 2014 did some damage. There are a couple of spots that require some clearance (Subarus and the like are fine). The total drive time from downtown Flagstaff is approximately 30 minutes.
From the pullout, descend about 50' to the north to the Sunset Trail, which is followed east for about 1/3 mile to the junction with the Mt. Elden Lookout Trail. The Sunset Trail is relatively level and this takes about 5 minutes from the car. Descend the Mt. Elden Lookout Trail as it switchbacks steeply down the mountain. Count out 8 switchback corners (a couple of the switchback legs are very short).
The path to the Sawyer Wall leaves the Mt. Elden Lookout Trail about 50' or so past the 8th switchback corner is encountered; the path drops down the spine of the ridge that the Mt. Elden Lookout Trail has been switchbacking up to this point. Past this junction, the Mt. Elden Lookout Trail makes a long transfer from this ridge, across a major ravine, to the next ridge south. Hikers familiar with the Mt. Elden Trail should recognize this spot.
The "path" to the Sawyer Wall is very primitive still and has had very little traffic/work yet. However, it is well marked with cairns (the first should be visible from the Mt. Elden Lookout Trail). Follow the cairns as the path drops down the ridge and then sidehills right (south) above the wall and drops steeply down to the uphill (west) edge of the wall. The final descent, and the base of the wall/staging areas have seen much trail work and are pretty comfortable. Hiking time is about 20 minutes on the way down, and a bit longer on the ascent back to the car.
Days w Precip
Prime Climbing Season