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Oak Creek Waterfall bolting problem

Eric D · · Gnarnia · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 230

I sent a polite email to Ropes that Rescue and their reply is below. It looks like they did not place the bolts.

"Thanks for the email. I am wondering where you got this information. We (RTR) do not require bolts to do what we do (training in rope rescue and rope access) except on the vertical wall where we have done an aid climb. As I understand by the person who did them, those Fixe glue-ins were placed with painstaking care to camouflage them. Dirt was used along with epoxy to insure the finish remained unobtrusive. We (RTR) use natural anchors for rescue work and those placed at the Waterfall parking lot appear to be used by multiple climbing groups to teach rappelling and so forth. Also, the Coconino County Sheriff's SAR team and Sedona Fire District TRT teams train there regularly. Perhaps they placed some of them? (There is another place where this has occurred on the Casner Canyon Trail coming from 89A just by the 60kv power line. We have used that area for years with bolts and glue ins galore and no one has ever complained). I have personally removed several messy looking bolts and glue ins on the top of the rock at the Waterfall area. We bent them over and then used a huge bar to twist them off. Again, we do not need bolts or glue-ins for what we do.

I am in favor of preserving the area without bolts of any kind. Some times they are necessary and if we have to place them, we do so discretely and try and camo them. Any bolt I place in a visible spot is done precisely with this consideration. I just got another email from some person named [ommitted] who's tone is very offensive and accusatory. I will not even bother to answer it because the guy sounds like a nut.

Thanks for sending this email."

Eric D · · Gnarnia · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 230

No worries Dean. They actually seemed to know who placed them but didn't want to say who. My email to them was respectful and we had a good interaction, so no harm done.

Colin Cox · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2008 · Points: 2,662

I say let them have their practice area, and maybe they will think the same for us.

karabin museum · · phoenix. AZ · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 1,680
Oak Creek
Yesterday I returned to the Oak Creek Waterfall area to get a better understanding of this new climbing area being developed. 50' from the parking area is the river which is flowing down Oak Creek Canyon. To get to the creek you hike down to the top of a short cliff wall and follow a trail that stair steps down a rock corridor to the creek. The Waterfall climbing area is 1/2 mile uphill from the creek. The new climbing area being developed is the rock corridor at the creek, (the tourists main trail).

I brought along quest monkey "Cody" who is an accomplished V10 climber, but is bolt clueless. The Waterfall climbing area is shown above Cody's head, awesome basalt walls.

Aid traverse
We started with the aid bolt traverse in the corridor. From the standpoint of an instructor, this aid line is an awesome training route because it has easy top and bottom access for instructor and climber. A dozen or so bolts go around a short bulge which almost lead to the top. If two more glue-ins were added going up at the finish, this would be a 5 star training aid route.

Cody on aid trav
Cody decided to do the route ropeless, but still on slings. Cody's comments were that the route was totally awesome! A great learning experience. But the route just ends and then you have to be lowered, or back climb a few bolts to a secondary anchor higher above.

loose hangers
The secondary aid anchor is down and out of reach from the plateau top and trail. I am amazed that I can unscrew each bolt by hand like they were never tightened in the first place. Notice how short the studs are like the anchors were never seated. On soft sandstone most studs raise 1/4 to 1/2 inch past the nuts when tightened.
I replaced the bolts but they still are loose since I have no tools with me to torque them down. Observing in the area, all of the bolts on the walls are spinning loose. You can remove most of the nuts by hand since the studs installed are stainless steel Fixe studs which have perfect machined SS nuts.

Cody tyroleon
Since bolts are on both sides of the corridor, Cody had an opportunity to learn the tyroleon traverse.

Interesting bolt placement
Cody is on one side of the main trail corridor pointing out my favorite anchor so far. These anchors are extremely rare to find since they are so dangerous.

Moveable bolt
This is a beautiful 120 pound rock with a glue-in bolt on it located on the top of the cliff edge overlooking the tourist trail. This anchor I call the "moveable bolt."

Time to Rap!
OK time to rappel! The ratings on this Fixe glue-in bolt claims to hold over 8000lbs, so this should be totally safe! This rappel situation has death written all over it, but will the traveling beginner climber or hiker know that?

Close to top
Placing expansion bolts within 10" of soft sandstone rock tops is pushing the safety limit. This bolt is within 2" of the rock top, and then probably was expanded to 200+ foot pounds of outward torque.

Total protection

These five anchors all lead to a ledge 7' below. The next four photos show a few examples of the many bolts presently on the trail. Smashed glue-in bolts and smashed hangers by retaliating hikers or climbers. Bolt studs missing hangers all over the place.
Smashed glue-ins
smashed hangers
Clips on trail
bolt studs, in line anchors?

It is unfortunate that somebody or somebody's decided to create a climbing area in a well known tourist area. There are more outdoor activists that dislike climbing bolts than there are climbers, so this ugliness kinda attacks everybody. The cliff walls continue in both directions so now with the new bolts suggesting development, might as well stitch up the entire area!

Solution: Remove the climbing bolts from the trails. At the tops use trees as main anchors to reach climbing bolts just below the top lip of walls. Place a small sign informing people that this is a climbing training area. Inform climbers not to further develop walls within 50" of mouth of trailhead. In tourist areas only use glue-in bolts, not hex expansion, and definitely not stud style bolts. Most people keep a crescent wrench in their vehicle and can easily attempt to remove a bolt to make a statement. Most organizations educate climbers to not develop routes within view of high traffic tourist areas. Whoever is spreading these bolts around, please understand that another human some day may be trusting their life in your work. Understand the impact you are creating for all before placing an anchor.

I do not believe that this bolting was created by a Rescue company. Most rescue companies do not train on climbing bolts, especially bolts which are within an area of public tampering. I am not here to chop these bolts, just raising awareness.

Cody's final statement: "Pleasant peaceful area which looks like somebody was trying to F... up."
John D · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2010 · Points: 10

nice write up, and zebra tights.

manuel rangel · · Arizona · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 3,997

Marty, it is not a climbing area. That would have been created by climbers. The whole thing is a travesty. But your calling it a climbing area does not help.

As Eric D stated earlier, it is probably a Rescue person or climbing organization using it to teach something. Or a mad bolter practicing his craft. Either way, it is not a climbing area.

lou · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 60

hmmmmm lets see,,, some of us can throw up hundreds of bolts wherever we want.. in the name of their ego.... on any remote area of boulders that should have no business being bolted (northern devils canyon).. to make some money.... but god forbid anyone else bolt for any other reason.... really if i want to throw up some bolts for a hammock ... so be it.... the world does not revolve around you and your principles.... get down off your self righteous high horse....


Jeff Kent · · Sedona, Az · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 0
lou wrote:hmmmmm lets see,,, some of us can throw up hundreds of bolts wherever we want.. in the name of their ego.... on any remote area of boulders that should have no business being bolted (northern devils canyon).. to make some money.... but god forbid anyone else bolt for any other reason.... really if i want to throw up some bolts for a hammock ... so be it.... the world does not revolve around you and your principles.... get down off your self righteous high horse.... lou
guy bon · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2010 · Points: 2,460


I don't think anyone is approaching this from a self righteous angle. I can't speak for anyone other than myself, BUT it seems that folks are concerned about the situation similar to the way one might be upset with spray paint or litter. It doesn't seem like there's going to be a chop war on the "world's shortest sport routes", but there could possibly be a solution that all parties will agree upon...and what's wrong with that?

Nicholas Oxentenko · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2009 · Points: 20

Lou is right.... NOT!! comparing ROUTES to heinous bolting litter is not even remotely the same, climbers who are stewards to the community, creating routes and maps and clearing trails rarely do so to feed their ego, unless their ego thrives off sweat and blood...

NC Rock Climber · · The Oven, AKA Phoenix · Joined Dec 2009 · Points: 60
lou wrote:hmmmmm lets see,,, some of us can throw up hundreds of bolts wherever we want.. in the name of their ego.... on any remote area of boulders that should have no business being bolted (northern devils canyon).. to make some money.... but god forbid anyone else bolt for any other reason.... really if i want to throw up some bolts for a hammock ... so be it.... the world does not revolve around you and your principles.... get down off your self righteous high horse.... lou
100% agree! I am not defending the bolts at the Waterfall, but think all the self-rightous outrage is as hypocritical as it gets.
karabin museum · · phoenix. AZ · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 1,680


Northern Devils Canyon is considered part of the Queen Creek area which is National Forest land. Many of your friends have bolted routes all over the Queen Creek area as well. The climbs in Northern devils are awesome routes up to 90' tall and were put up by many climbing groups. The area is remote requiring a 1/2 mile hike in. Only three stores in town carry the map which I have grossed $150 over the last 4 years. Big money!

I hold no titles, not with the QCC or any organization, just a climber enjoying the freedom of climbing……and you are mad at that?

robrobrobrob · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 10

1/2 mile hike is remote? If I visit the area, should one just bring a bivy, or expect to bring a full tent/camping setup?

Mark Mueller · · Flagstaff, AZ · Joined Nov 2011 · Points: 185

I wouldn't describe Northern Devil's as being remote (esp being under power line) but there are some really fun routes there. To say that anyone put in hundreds of dollars of hardware into the place to make a profit is ludicrous at best. I would personally like to thank MK for all that he has done. Many of the fold outs have provided me with cheap, efficient beta/topos and for that I am grateful.

dan zika · · jax wy · Joined May 2009 · Points: 5

Crazy question could they be bolts for a slackline setup ? Looks sorta like it could be, from the pictures this has been going since I visited last. Have seen setups similar for slacklineing

Alex McIntyre · · Tucson, AZ · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 485
dan zika wrote:Crazy question could they be bolts for a slackline setup ? Looks sorta like it could be, from the pictures this has been going since I visited last. Have seen setups similar for slacklineing
I have never seen a slackline anchor setup require 40+ bolts. Not to mention, the "cliff" is 10 feet or less, making it completely idiotic to highline there, not to mention the plethora of natural anchors available for what would essentially be a slackline no higher than what could be set up at your local park.
Wilson Cutbirth · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 140

i have lived here for all 21 years of my life and have a great appreciation on different levels than just climbing here. I learned how to swim in in this swimming hole. Oak Creek Canyon is my back yard, while you drive 3 hours to climb on weekends at the water fall i ride my bike there afterwork on weekdays while no one is there. There are way bigger threats to access here than those bolts. i pick up trash on the regular here after weekends as the population of climbers has multiplied like crazy this year. i passed 13 jeeps on the way out to the great wall earlier this week, lets fight that before sedona starts to look like Moab. I know a lot about these bolts and why they are there except who put them there because they have been placed by many different people over many years. No one person is to blame, thats why there are so many different types of bolts and bolting styles here. I understand everyones confusion and anger about this but you all are very ignorant on the subject. This is not at all ment to be a climbing area this is solely for Rescue training and some Rope access training has been done here. This area has been utilized for this for as long or longer than climbers have been climbing at the waterfall and before OCC was a tourist trap. People from as far as Australia and Japan have trained on these bolts. Many of you have probably clipped bolts on classic routes placed by the same people who placed these years ago. Many of the bolts have been loaded in the wrong direction from climbers trying to top rope on them and resulted in spinners. these bolts were place to build complicated rope systems on, far more complex than even the average route developer can comprehend, this is why some of the bolts are in spots that seem strange. the bolt in the 120 lb rock is not ment to be loaded but picked up by a complex rope system and moved to different locations as a training exercise it was incredibly stupid for the Original Poster to rappel off of that, come on dude!!!!! if you have problem here stay in phx and burn, your not helping. Don't blame ropes that rescue for these bolts they remove bad and smashed bolts and fight to protect access for climbers, and clean up sedona. Have you seen the sign on the way into the canyon? In my own opinion i would rather see a myriad of bolts placed by TR teams right off the side of a road that sees far to much traffic right down stream from an ugly campground on a creek that struggles to fight against high e coli levels, then in a pristine isolated wilderness location. Lets fight to clean up the creek instead of bitching about a few pieces of metal in the rock next to an asphalt road.
The anvils were first climbed by the Sedona Fire TR team, they developed the trails and wrote topos published in a cheap way to die they also trained there and thats what the big bolts are on top of gendarme (the big boulder alien baby is on) as for all the others as far as i know they are top rope bolts poorly placed by climbers.
I have established dozens of slackline high lines in OCC, Sedona and all around AZ including a line over the Dr.s Office and off the top of the winsloner across the canyon. If anyone finds any highline bolts that they have an issue with please contact me about it to find a solution, i'd like to make sure no bolting war ever develops between slackliners and climbers in AZ.
On a final note if anyone need's a partner here in sedona send me a message!

. Mobes · · MDI, ME · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 865
guy bon wrote: Going from CT to Sedona was like a vegan first witnessing the results of the atkins diet.
never tell anyone this ever again. say you are from VT instead.
J. Snyder · · Flagstaff, Arizona · Joined May 2011 · Points: 3,405

Since its been a quiet minute since the last Tamtrum... Ill bite. First it should be noted that C.C. does not sit in Slide Rock State Park, rather in an outlying area just like the other dozen or so sport climbs in the general vicinity. Bolts were placed by hand drill, I even tried to do the first 3 ground up solo, got too gnar so I resorted to coming in from above on the final bolt...Sportz. All hangers are painted a fine hue of Sedona Mud Red Dirt Brown, hardly an eye sore unless you're looking. In fact I believe one of the hangers even has a grained texture on it. Bonus Camo if I do say so myself. Comparing this to the mess that is the Waterfall zone or The Arch is null and far reaching at best.

The Q.D.s that are currently hanging are not mine nor are they anyone's who has recently tried the route. In fact, since the mega famous- world renown million dollar FA of this line I have gone back twice to remove draws that have randomly shown up on the route. Only because I think that pre-hung draws is for sportz-clambers.

So... I suppose we agree. This is a very special place. One of the best hangs for sure. Small, quaint, and secluded. It should be treated with respect but also enjoyed. I suppose if it becomes a real issue, removing the bolts, bouldering it out all sik-ropeless, and renaming it Cowgirl Club wouldn't even make me mad. Hell it even make for a proud top rope.

On a side note: If I took your draws off and they are yours let me know Ill return them. If they are currently hanging on the route, contact Tam, I believe she will be the next person to drop in and clean them off for you.

Eric D · · Gnarnia · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 230

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you Jeff for all you have done as our AAC rep. You've been awesome! Clean-ups, forks fests, slideshows, putting up rad routes (Southern Revival, ah!!!), Alpine Follies, and cleaning up lots and lots of bananas. You da' man!

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Arizona & New Mexico
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