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Routes in King Crimson

Southwest Face T 5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b A0
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Type: Trad, Aid, 400 ft, 3 pitches, Grade III
FA: Steve Grossman, Jim Haisley, Paul Davidson, Larry Coats -early 80s. FFA J. Snyder
Page Views: 2,034 total · 21/month
Shared By: Larry Coats on Oct 23, 2010
Admins: Luke Bertelsen, JJ Schlick, Greg Opland

You & This Route

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After several exploratory attempts to free climb the first ascent of the tower from the notch, we faced the fact that an aid climb would be required to summit. And no more spectacular aid climb could be found than the series of shallow corners that split the southwest face. In late winter, we hiked loads of aid gear into the tower, and Grossman spent the day leading the first pitch. We fixed a rope with plans to return the next day and finish, but winter arrived (note to skiers: if you ever want it to snow in Northern Arizona, go fix a rope in Sedona in the winter!), and after a harrowing attempt to drive down the switchbacks in a blizzard in Paul's VW van, we bailed on the attempt until months later in the spring. Then Paul, Jim, and myself jugged back up the sun-stiffened fixed line, and completed the tower.

Pitch 1: It's obvious- follow the shallow, right-facing dihedral on thin gear, with several tenuous sections of flexible crack (C1-2). At the roof, follow widely-spaced bolts rightward (that Grossman has quite the span!) to a belay on a small ledge in the flaring corner. (EDIT- this pitch now goes free at 5.12, and has a new belay before the aid traverse.)

Pitch 2: Up the corner above the belay, past one buttonhead drilled to avoid dropping loose blocks onto the belayer. Then follow the nice, steep crack up the corner above (C1) to another small belay ledge at an obvious traverse.

Pitch 3: Short but scary- follow the ledge right past a drilled baby angle to the large ledge on the shoulder of King Crimson. 3rd class climbing leads to the summit from here.


Lots of thin gear for the first pitch, with medium-sized pitches for the second.
Some of my recollections:
The first pitch traversing bolts (baby angles) had to be some of the most solid in Sedona. Grossman had to freakin wail on those to bury them into the eye because the holes were so tight and the rock so solid.

As I recall, the rope that hung for a season was a brand new rope Larry bought just for this climb. It became a one use wonder tow rope.

Being as it was Larry's rope, I believe we insisted he be the first jug it. That was a bit of a dry mouthed adventure. I believe the rest of us either used a different rope or had a belay. That rope was so stiff from a season of sun and weather that when Haisley cut it loose from the belay, it stood up right for a few seconds before falling over like a tree.

Rumors are that some (all?) of the first pitch now go free.
I'll let those working on that project chime in if desired. Oct 27, 2010
JJ Schlick
Flagstaff, AZ
JJ Schlick   Flagstaff, AZ  
I spent time working the first pitch a couple years back... I TRed the thing clean. I am planning on spending some more time up there this winter and hopefully redpoint the thing. The fist pitch has a very large, delicate flake that I would imagine could pull off if someone were really reefing on it. It is kind of spooky, but sort of needs to be there. But, there is 20' of Sedona chunk followed by 80' from tips to fists with the crux being a very technical section in the tips area. There is no way of getting around the short aid traverse, but it is only 25' long or so.

Oh Paul, the stone is stronger than the pins! At least two of them are cracked, and can clearly flex quite a bit under body weight. Kind of exciting too, but I am not much of an aid climber.

Beautiful line fellas! Oct 28, 2010
I guess 30 years of hanging out at that spot would be enough to crack up anyone. Nov 3, 2010
J. Snyder
Flagstaff, Arizona
  5.12 A0
J. Snyder   Flagstaff, Arizona
  5.12 A0
On 1/6/2013, after 3 days of exploration, beta sussing, and a gear pulling mega-whipper, I was able to make the FFA of this beautiful and unique route. A week later M.Swartz made the seemingly effortless 2nd ascent in great style. This is a fine addition to the growing list of Sedona test-pitches.

Note: A "free" anchor has been added out above the roof just above the original aid traverse. This makes for a safe lower off and a full pitch of rock climbing.

Thanks to the 1st ascentionists for the original vision, JJ Schlick et. al for modern bolts and M.Swartz for solid partnership, belays and psyche.

I have to restate the importance of not breaking and destroying the delicate features, without them it will not be the same!!

Edit: T.Hastie has also repeated making the First Female Ascent and completing the team send!! 1/20/2013 Jan 21, 2013
JJ Schlick
Flagstaff, AZ
JJ Schlick   Flagstaff, AZ  
Strong work Jeff, Matt, and Tam! That's rad. Surprised on the grade though. I must not have been as strong as I thought I was when I was working on it, or has something broke? I remember that big ole flake seemed rather fragile to me...

Did you guys do any of the upper pitches? Jan 21, 2013
  5.12 A0
  5.12 A0
The first pitch is incredible…well worth the walk! Gear beta is single 000, 00, 0, and #1 c3s, triples of .3s, .4s, and .5s, single .75, #1, #2, #3 c4s, two draws and an extendo for the roof bolt. This route is very fun and varied, with both technical and powerful sections at the bottom and glory finger and hands after that! Get on it! Feb 13, 2016
Chase Bowman
Chase Bowman   Durango
has that beautiful seam just to the right been climbed before? Oct 18, 2016
J. Snyder
Flagstaff, Arizona
  5.12 A0
J. Snyder   Flagstaff, Arizona
  5.12 A0
The seam is just that... a seam. It would only be climbable via pins and blades. Less than any sized cam or passive pro available. Please don't! Keep it clean. Oct 18, 2016

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