Type: Trad, 400 ft, 5 pitches, Grade III
FA: Bob Kamps, Dave Rearick, TM Herbert, 1957
Page Views: 36,852 total · 233/month
Shared By: Josh Janes on Jan 20, 2006
Admins: Luke Bertelsen, JJ Schlick, Greg Opland

You & This Route

228 Opinions

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The Mace is a classic Sedona route, and one of the "must do" lines in the area. If you're used to Moab area towers, this is a bit of a disappointment in terms of rock quality, but the adventure itself is wonderful.

Approach from a small trailhead off of Back O' Beyond Road in Sedona. The hike is 15-20 minutes at a leisurely pace.

P1: Climb up chimney (or the runout face to the right) to a crack through limestone band. Pull a small roof to gain a big alcove with eyebolt belay. 5.7.

P2: Head up a handcrack in the back corner of alcove, into a chimney, breaking left at top and continuing up an offwidth crack in the corner. A final corner leads to an eyebolt belay on top of a small pillar. 5.9.

P3: Clip a bolt off the left side of the pillar and perform an airy traverse left to gain a crack system. Climb this to reach a small triangular belay ledge with another eyebolt belay.

P4: Pass through a slot to the west, then move right and climb a crack system to an alcove about halfway up. From here, chimney and offwidth (crux) past a bolt. This leads to the summit of the lower tower and an eyebolt belay.

P5: Lean across to the higher tower, clip a bolt, and traverse right and climb up to gain an easier slab to the top. Belay off a strange anchor bolted to the summit.

Descent: Rappel to lower summit (or do the jump... bad idea). Double rope rap from here to a ledge, then another double rope rap to the saddle behind the tower.


Minimum rack:
.75 Camalot
1 Camalot
2 Camalot
3 Camalot
4 Camalot
Draws, slings, 2 ropes

Wide gear optional. A #3 Big Bro will protect the last moves on the second pitch with a little fiddling to get it set. And it doesn't jam you in the ribs while leading like one of the largest cams.


I wouldn't let the lack of a big bro stop you from doing the route. The runout on P2 isn't all that bad and there is a small cam you can place near the last bit. The BB will make you more comfortable but it really isn't manditory. But you really do want that #4 camalot at the crux.

The summit register lives inside the fireplug at the top - you can unscrew the top.

Feb 4, 2006
Boulder, CO
claytown   Boulder, CO
This is such a classic climb.

A tricky start to the second pitch and an airy traverse to start the third get you ready for the crux fourth pitch. A fun lead, this pitch makes you think about how to clip that bolt and contort your body to make it through the crux.

I had a #5 Camalot but a #4 would work just fine (note, with C4s, you probably do want the #5).

I almost forgot the step across pitch. That was a cool way to end a climb. I would never jump back across after Coyote Tower. My heels are worth way more than a fun jump. Sep 17, 2006
Mike   Phoenix
An excellent route. I never get tired of this climb. It's going to get a lot harder when that flake on the 5th pitch eventually comes off. Sep 18, 2006
Anthony Anagnostou   nyc
third time on the mace today. currently there is no register, if someone wants to bring up a notebook and a couple pencils.

we brought a single set of green alien to new #5 camalot, and an extra 1 and 2 to back up the beefy belay bolts. i was pretty happy with the rack, and might even add a couple finger size cams next time.

the top of pitch two is spicy without a big piece. i would venture to guess the new BD 6 would do OK. its a little bigger than the old 5. personally, i wuss out and climb the runout (but easier?) face left of the OW there. Apr 26, 2007
Jason Halladay
Los Alamos, NM
Jason Halladay   Los Alamos, NM  
What a great route and summit! The off width on the second pitch doesn't feel too exposed but the crux moves on the 4th pitch do! That bolt is in the right place for sure. A few comments:

1.) The eye bolts on the belay are fatties. If you plan to clip in with locking biners, take ovals or some other shape with a large gate clearance. My small pear-shaped lockers wouldn't go around them but thankfully I had a couple of oval lockers with me too.

2.) While you can rap directly down off the main summit tube to the big ledge between the two spires, this is really rough on the rock and results in loads of friction when pulling the ropes. Best to jump down to the lower summit or make a short swinging rap down to the lower summit.

3.) We carried a BD 5 and 6 camalots and I placed them in the OW at the top of pitch 2 but ended up more on the face to the left anyway. If I did this again I wouldn't bother with the 6 but would likely take the 5 again. I placed the BD 4 camalot near the crux on P4 before clipping the bolt. It was nice to have the assurance of the big cam backing up the bolt. Oct 8, 2007
Ken Trout
Golden, CO
Ken Trout   Golden, CO
Geoff Slater and I did the Mace, using this page. There were a couple of things that would have helped.

First, the guano is not on the belay ledge mentioned. The only guano we found covers the walls of the crux offwidth. The associated bird perch has attracted some dangerous parasites. While on the crux, I had to squish a cone-nosed kissing bug that was after me. CNKB are like giant, fast-moving, disease-carrying, ticks. They look like oversized boxelder bugs but move faster :(

Second, it is possible to do this route with just a rope, a rack, and the shirt on your back. Just be sure the rope is a 70 meter for the first rappel off the sub-summit into the notch between the sub and true summits :)

Finaly, the rating is not Yosemite Decimal System. The hardest move, protected by the bolt, felt like 5.10+. In my opinion the Mace's crux is much harder than either the Kor-Ingalls (5.9-) or North Chimney (5.8+) on Castleton Tower.

Was the FA done free? If so then this route may be part of the reason Arizona ratings have their long-standing sandbag reputation.

Here is my hypothesis. The first offical five nine was done in 1952. When the Mace was climbed in 1957 there was no 5.10 rating, even though all three members of the FA could climb that well then. The idea to come up with the mathematically incorrect grade of 5.10 was still in the future. The first official five ten was Crack of Doom in Yosemite, Pratt and Hemple, 1961. Rearick, Kamps, and Herbert were among the best climbers in the world back in 1957. The YDS didn't catch up until later. Some Arizona rating still haven't.

Oct 31, 2007
Mike   Phoenix
Ken: There is no way The Mace is 5.10+ unless maybe it was located in Jack's Canyon.

Greg: That is a really cool topo. Any others like that? Nov 14, 2007
Ken Trout
Golden, CO
Ken Trout   Golden, CO

Greg and Mike, I agree the Mace is no Twilight Zone. For those familiar with the Denver area, it seemed a bit harder than the Grand Giraffe (and fully worth the drive).

I added a link for the topo we used from Climbing's website.
Pitches two and three also get the 5.9 rating, yet felt a full number grade easier than the crux. I shouldn't have been so surprised because offwidths are always the hardest techinque for me. Next time I'm bringing the big cams as Greg advised, instead of hexes. Mar 16, 2008
Richard Fernandez
Flagstaff, AZ
Richard Fernandez   Flagstaff, AZ
My vote 5.10a. Reality check, clipped the bolt on P4, went WAYYYYY too far left, shit started breaking, realized thats not my goal, came back, stared at the holds above, got heady, plugged a #5 just above the bolt, feeling good about that and went for it. My second told me I never clipped the #5. It's all in your head sometimes. Feb 2, 2009
Petaluma California
stevecurtis   Petaluma California
Onsight rope solo.

Probably the best desert tower I've done. I did think it was a bit of a sandbag, with the last pitch closer to 5.10 than 5.9. But in my book, 5.9 + generally means quite a bit harder than 5.9.

The large camalot was necessary for me up high.
Greg: I use a soloist--since 1990. I've taken two upside down falls since then, and walked away--once for sutures. Aug 31, 2009
roman d
Pasadena, CA
roman d   Pasadena, CA
A single 70m rope gets you down with room to spare Jan 12, 2010
We had a great time on the Mace this weekend. I recommend bringing the big gear, at least up to #5 Camelot. I placed the #6 twice. I used very little standard size gear. Singles in the small sizes would be fine. Apr 12, 2010
Charles Vernon
mind & body in Colorado, he…
Charles Vernon   mind & body in Colorado, he…
Even if you don't have a 70, there's no need to drag 2 ropes up the route. From the lower summit, it is exactly a 60 meter rap to the saddle, so stash your second rope there before the climb, have the first person rap the single strand and then tie the second rope on.

Great adventurous route! Crux seemed harder to me than anything on Coyote Tower, but the 5.9+ grade is perfect for bizarre awkward cruxes like this. May 14, 2010
Jon Ruland
Tucson, AZ
Jon Ruland   Tucson, AZ
most physically demanding 4 pitches of my life. May 17, 2010
Mike broad
Tucson, AZ
Mike broad   Tucson, AZ
Definitely a classic!! FYI the first 2 pitches can be linked with a 60m rope if you want. Just watch the drag. Nov 7, 2010
ddriver   SLC
I took one each #3, #3.5, #4, and #4.5 camalots and thought that worked out perfect for big gear. Recommend also having a #9 or 10 stopper for pitch 2. Apr 18, 2011
Lost #6 on the last pitch. Please return for beer. Thanks May 22, 2011
Curtis L
phoenix, az
Curtis L   phoenix, az
I think a grade of 5.10- would give a more accurate representation of this route's difficulty. The moves on the 4th pitch will be very difficult for someone not familiar with that style of climbing. Most of the route is squeeze chimneys and offwidths with some occasional jams.
I ran the second pitch out quite a bit because I left the wide gear with my belayer not knowing about the offwidth at the top. There's other gear placements but not many, and they may be difficult to reach. We brought two BD #4's and one 5 and I'm glad we did. Oct 10, 2011
A single 60 does work, it's close. Even if you are a few feet short, the down climb would be fine.

Secondly, a gear sling is great on this route. It's nice for pretty much every pitch.

FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) Oct 17, 2011
Colonel Mustard
Sacramento, CA
Colonel Mustard   Sacramento, CA
Except for the first pitch, pretty damn classic! If you are used to a little bit of the wider crack grovelling, it's not that bad. I skip the the ow at the end for a face variation. Feels somewhere in the tens. I had no problems leading the middle three pitches, but you might want to do like I do and make the follower earn it by leading the fifth, step-across pitch. Also, if they could bottle the jump across the gap, Starbucks would instantly be put out of business. Nov 2, 2011
Beta: Take a C5 for the second pitch, you'll want it. With only a C4 it's doable, but you should be confident running it out 20-25 feet in 5.7 OW. We only had a single C4, so the second pitch was scary. Also, I thought starting the second pitch was the crux of the route, harder than the last pitch (pitch 4).

I'm not sure why there's a bolt on the final pitch (pitch 4). A C4 protects the climbing perfectly.

Opinion: Kind of a lame route. Its the first I've done in Sedona and considering its a four star route, I probably wont climb many more. The position is pretty cool, but the actual climbing is anything but. It makes for a fun day but certainly not stellar. I was hoping for much more considering all the praise it gets here on MP. Nov 23, 2011

"I'm not sure why there's a bolt on the final pitch. A C4 protects the climbing perfectly."

I agree with part of that. I'm also not sure how there is still a bolt on the next to last pitch (you forget the step across or did you 3rd class that?) considering that it was drilled in what, 1958, at one time I believe it was a star nail drive (has it been replaced ?) and has probably been stepped on about 100x a year for about 53 years.
In that rock you'd think it what have been sketched out years ago. Nov 28, 2011
Colonel Mustard
Sacramento, CA
Colonel Mustard   Sacramento, CA
Stepping on the bolt: bad form! I don't know what to say to somebody who doesn't enjoy the climbing because it's so varied you'd have to enjoy something on the route. Face, thin crack, wide crack, cool traverse, chimney, ow, fingers, stepping across the void, a leap between towers.... Dec 10, 2011
Ben Haldeman
Santa Barbara
Ben Haldeman   Santa Barbara
We rappelled off in two raps using only a single 60m rope. The first rap barely made it with rope stretch, but even if you came up a couple feet short you could down climb a couple moves in the chimney onto a huge ledge. We had plenty of rope to get to the ground on the second rap. Dec 30, 2011
Caitlin Mac
Caitlin Mac   Tempe
The pen used to sign the guidebook doesn't work, so bring a pen with you to leave at the top.

One of the best climbs I've done yet, so fun and scenic! Jan 31, 2012
Caitlin Mac
Caitlin Mac   Tempe
Jeff Kent
Sedona, Az
Jeff Kent   Sedona, Az
This route was a lot of fun! A perfect first route for the Sedona area. We brought a single rack from .3-6 and a 70M, this was perfect. Oct 11, 2012
Scottsdale, az
Sayfe   Scottsdale, az
Fantastic climb, one of the best. Sustained, fun, and takes super energy. Pitch 4 is a total sandbag, but not as bad as long as youve save some energy for it. Nov 2, 2012
Ryan Z
Ryan Z  
My gear recommendation is to take singles from #.5 - #5. The first 2 pitches can easily be linked with a 60m to save a bit of time. Single 60m rope will work just fine for the rappel too, it's just a close one! Feb 16, 2013
Paul Phelps
Phoenix, AZ
Paul Phelps   Phoenix, AZ
Too much fear mongering here. 1) Offwidths are always runout. If you can climb them, you won't mind the runout as that is almost always how offwidths work. 2) The jump: not a bad idea at all. Do it! It might be the only chance you get to jump across a cool chasm hundreds of feet off the ground. My only beta: bring your approach shoes for the jump. Keep the tradition alive and jump! Apr 1, 2013
Randall Ayers
colorado springs, co
Randall Ayers   colorado springs, co
Definitely felt like a 5.10 (5.10-?). Used the #4 more than I expected, the runout where you could use the BigBro was heady but the climbing was easy enouth that you wouldn't need it. Lots of sand at the base of the "airy traverse" it left me a little wigged out after I slipped on it. We had two ropes, but a 70m would definitely make the bottom. Apr 1, 2013
Dj telle
Tucson, AZ
Dj telle   Tucson, AZ
amazing climb. make sure to do the jump in normal shoes. def not climbing ones or ull hurt the shit outta ur feet..... like me! Apr 21, 2013
Andy Laakmann
Bend, OR
Andy Laakmann   Bend, OR  
P1 - Easy chimney/face to a solid roof pull
P2 - Solid jams through a stem to a long, easy chimney (with good gear) to a pair of offwidth sections. I was able to slide a #5 up the first offwidth section without much worry. I placed the BB#3 at the base of the final offwidth section, and it seemed solid enough. That being said, there was a decent orange master cam in a small crack below it and one or two moves above it there was an awesome small offset nut.
P3 - Face move is easy. Getting established into the chimney took some effort. Once in, expect some solid chimney moves until it pinches down and you can cram in your #4 camalot.
P4 - The wild one. Just do whatever it takes to get up - stems, jams, chicken wings, kneebars, etc. Fortunately there are just enough feet on the left wall to keep things humming. Good #4 to the right of the bolt and an awesome #5 above the bolt (basically making the crux a top rope)
P5 - A fun finish!

Generous gear list for the squeamish: set of offset nuts small to big, one orange master cam, one #0.5 camalot, doubles #0.75-#5 camalot (new style C4s) optional BB#3. Yes, you can get by with less, and I definitely probably only placed half this gear on any one pitch - but I was happy to gave it. Apr 26, 2013
Charles Gray
Estes Park, Co
Charles Gray   Estes Park, Co
See Ken Trout's description about the Mace, which, I believe to be quite good. While not necessarily 10+, the crux pitch is similar in rating to a 9+ that routes like Sykes Sickle on Spearhead gets. The moves are considerably harder than 5.9, and more realistically in the 5.10 range. All in all, it's a great route. I would definitely wash my hands afterwards! Big Bro could be handy though not necesary, and I didnt't place the #5 on the crux pitch. The #3 and #4 were sufficient. For the second pitch, though the climbing is a bit easier, the #5 was nice to have for the chimney section. CGray. May 12, 2013
Climbed this past week: physical, daring, bold, and fun! I have a 0.75 camelot that walked into the beginning of pitch 4 on the right side crack... reward ($ or beer) for anyone that retrieves, please (pm me please); live in Flagstaff. Jan 31, 2014
Flagstaff, AZ
Katy90   Flagstaff, AZ
So much fun--classic desert tower climb! The views are incredible the whole way up and down. I would definitely recommend bringing a short tag line if you are hauling a pack up there because there is chimney/OW climbing for most of the first 4 pitches. Definitely save some energy for the final half of the second pitch! Oh, and about that jump...mega ouch on the feet! Although I can't be on my feet for 2 weeks, I still do not regret it...Bring some soft cushy descent shoes and you might have better luck that I did :). Feb 17, 2014
Matt Watson
Matt Watson   Rollinsville,CO
Climbed the Mace yesterday. Great desert route, I would say the quality is as good as any of the other moderate desert towers i.e. Castleton. But you should be ready for consistent wide climbing. As for gear - a couple finger size cams then a single set of camalots .5 - 5 worked well. I found no use for the doubles that I carried. I wouldn't take nuts if I climbed it again. 8 shoulder length runners with biners is all you need. We used a single 70m rope and it touches down on both raps with room to spare. I think a single 60 would be fine. Also I noticed no bird crap anywhere on the route. I also wouldn't worry to much if your OW skills aren't that dialed. A number 5 Camelot (old school) protects the crux's well. That being said I think the route is WAY harder than 5.9+. Feb 22, 2014
Did the Mace again 25 years after my previous time on it. It seemed a lot harder, but I think the truth is related to the 25 years of wear and tear on me.

The #5 C4 got used repeatedly (and appreciated immensely) on P2, as I pushed it up in front of me. And, as was pointed out upthread, it made a great piece above the bolt on P4, even though I had the bolt backed up with a #4 C4. Oct 5, 2014
What a route! Some commenters seem to think that a #5 protects P2, but I was glad to have a #6. I wish I would have left the #6 with my follower for P4. My recollection of P4 is that there is a pretty solid nut placement below the crux (a purple #11 BD nut maybe). Above the P4 crux a #5 protects the last move. If you are feeling fat, you might leave most of your gear clipped to a piece in the alcove below the P4 crux. Take the more protectable chimney option on P1 to make the route 4 pitches of chimney climbing. Jan 26, 2015
Nate Young
Nate Young   Phoenix
Hey everyone. We climbed The MACE on the Sunday before MLK day in 2015, January 18th, and we lost a #5 (Purple) Black Diamond C4 Camelot in the wide section just below the top of the second pitch. It was kicked down the gully on accident and was lodged about 10 feet into the crack itself. I went back to try and fetch it about a week later and it was gone. I would appreciate it if someone found it to PM met and I'll buy you a case of beer or something upon it's safe return. I know it would be considered route booty, but a piece that expensive to replace would be amazing to have a safe return to it's original owner :(. THANKS! Feb 6, 2015
Kerr Adams
Albuquerque, NM
Kerr Adams   Albuquerque, NM
You do not need two 60M ropes or a 70M. A single 60M works great. Mar 5, 2016
Will Wright
Mesa, AZ
Will Wright   Mesa, AZ
This is one of the best routes in the U.S. A juggy roof, handcracks, offwidth, an airy traverse, and the unforgettable tower span....where else will you find this combo? Nov 21, 2016
On 11/18/2016 on the last 4 feet of pitch 4 a number 3 black diamond cam marked with blue and red nail polish unclipped from my harness and fell into the abyss. If found you will be rewarded with beer!(or your choice of beverage) I can be reached at (520-240-4821) Nov 21, 2016
As for the grade discussion. I think the 5.9+ is appropriate. That grade says a lot. A route with that grade usually ends up feeling more strenuous than 10a and sometimes just plain harder in every way. And that goes for just about anywhere at least I have ever climbed, except in areas that are notoriously easy. 9+ also often represents something of the history of the route as Ken Trout described above. I think no climber should ever be surprised when a 9+ ends up feeling harder than 5.10- and should suspect they might be getting into a piece of climbing history (definitely around N. AZ anyways). Dec 2, 2018
5.7 Crusher
New Paltz, NY
5.7 Crusher   New Paltz, NY
Climbed this route the other day and had an absolute blast. Definitely glad I followed the whole thing. Thanks to Sedona OG Jason for taking me up! Definitely wear your approach shoes on the jump. I did it in climbing shoes and was forced to spend the rest of my vacation in the rented Cruise America I rented. Still can barely walk! Dec 28, 2018