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Routes in West Fork

Eight Ball Tower - Rolling with the Eight Ball T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Engagement T 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b
Into The Wild T 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
Into the Void T 5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c PG13
Where The Mild Things Are T 5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c
Where the Wild Things Are T 5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b
Type: Trad, 500 ft, 6 pitches
FA: FFA: D.Mabe, A.Dembik 5/28/11
Page Views: 5,737 total, 74/month
Shared By: Darren Mabe on Jul 20, 2011
Admins: Greg Opland, Luke Bertelsen, JJ Schlick

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Description and Approach

This adventure engages in chimney and crack systems of all sizes on a series of pillars in 6 short pitches. Tends to be sandy at the beginning of the season.

It is located on a formation called the Serial Pillar, tucked back only a short ways in the West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon. After the 3rd creek crossing on the Call of the Canyon trail, head west on a faint trail through the ferns. Find the weakness in the slickrock of the SECOND spur from the gulley (small cairn), ascend the slickrock band, which leads to another faint trail that contours, crosses the draw, and switchbacks up the hill. It eventually contours the loose hillside level with the route and to its base. See approach map.

Route

Fixed handline or Indiana Jones bullwhip will help get you up the crumbly house-of-cards to the base of the route. All belays from bolts except for Pitch 4.

P1: 5.9, 100' Classic chimney behind a huge left-facing flake with assorted size cracks in the back. At the top of the chimney, make an exciting traverse right, past a bolt, to a semi-hanging bolted belay.

P2: 5.10+, 110' Cruxy moves off of the belay to excellent hands in right facing corner. The crack widens as you traverse the roof. Layback past two bolts followed by continuous V-slot big hand crack to a nice bolted belay perch. Awesome pitch!

P3: 5.9+, 110'. the "Pitch of Despair". Follow a right facing crack after an awkward start to a delicate ledge traverse left, across some dirt and roots of the crow's tree. Double handcracks in chimney lead you to clunge through a tree/moss-clod(!?) protected by bolt and into a squeeze chimney. Finish on fragile face/arete climbing to a nice ledge and bolted anchor.

P4: 5.10+, 80' Reachy start followed by face traverse past a bolt to a small tree. Steep, thin, and excellent jagged finger crack splitter widens to thin-hands V-slot and hand crack through a bulge. Gear Belay (#3 Camalot and tree) on another good ledge. Incredible pitch!

P5: 5.9-, 60' Brief crux thin hand crack/lieback in right facing corner and jagged flake followed by a wide slot and a few sandy ledges up to the "Treehouse". Make an exciting step over to a dead tree and venture behind the pillar for another 30' to bolted belay (this was not intended as a rap anchor). Short pitch.

P6: 5.9+/10-, 80' "Window Pitch". Exposed, fun, and generously protected wide chimney. Exit with a steep broken crack out the roof where the pillar pinches against the wall. Finish on loose and dirty terrain to the top of the pillar! Creative pro. Nut tool may be useful to clean out placements. Bolted anchors set back on the main wall.

Descent:

Rappel.
You really need a 70m rope (a 60m won't make the first rap), or 2 ropes. All raps are bolted.

R1: rap down the FACE of the pillar to a ledge with small tree, watch ends! 115'
R2: rap down the vegetated gully to picnic ledge. careful pulling the rope. 80'
R3. rap the face left of P3 staying left of the crow's tree. Swing back right in to the P2 belay perch. Pull the ropes gently so they don't get caught in the tree. 100'
R4: rap P2, over the roof to P1 anchors, 100'. -OR- 150' to GROUND.
R5: 50' to ground.

Gear:

bring healthy sized rack from thin to big. The following should be more than enough:

Micro-cams, BD doubles #0.4-#1, triples #2-#3, one or two #4s(C4). A #5(C4) is optional but not necessary.

a handful of slings/draws,
70m rope or two ropes
Kevin Kent
Flagstaff, AZ
 
Kevin Kent   Flagstaff, AZ
 
Great route! There's definitely a few small dirty sections but from the sounds of it, this rig has cleaned up quite a bit since the FA.

The Slide Fire (May '14) seems to not have affected the route, but the majority of the approach after leaving the main trail was burnt. I'm not sure how much of a trail there originally was but we found neither trail nor cairns.

If you're reasonably solid at the grade and style I would suggest a single rack from blue TCU to #3 C4, with an extra #1, #2 and #3. A #4 really isn't necessary, we didn't place any micros on P6, and nuts certainly aren't needed. Lastly we rapped on a 70m that has 15' cut off (I forgot about that until we had topped out...), but we had plenty of rope on all the rappels. May 31, 2015
Mitch Y  
Amazing climb! The 2, 4, and 6 pitches are all amazing with great sequences and perfect gear placements. Thanks Darren and team for all the hard work! May 12, 2014
Ryan Z
  5.10+
Ryan Z  
  5.10+
Engagement is very well equipped, the bolted anchors are in perfect spots and all the rap anchors have chains or quick links. The bolts on the climb were placed well and the rappel is easily done with (1) 70m rope. There's a simple approach to a wonderful 500ft of adventure climbing. The chimney on P6 is so cool, a style of climbing I have not seen in many places other than Sedona. It's amazing how good the climbing is until 15 feet from the top. Bring a pair of sunglasses for the last pitch, hahaha. Lichen and sand to the eyeball is way no bueno.

Nice work Darren, thanks for taking your time and thinking about bolt placement. Not to mention the $ put into hardware. Apr 14, 2014
jayci
Flagstaff
  5.10+ PG13
jayci   Flagstaff
  5.10+ PG13
Ok... I for sure am not trying to talk myself up. In fact I found that last section to be a bit hairy as many of you did not. Darren, I would say the climbing is more like Coyote Tower and even more like Earth Angel, but both these routes top out towers and that always makes for a memorable experience worthy of a star or two in my opinion. If Earth Angel ended at a tree covered ledge three quarters of the way up a wall it would have far less of a reputation. Jul 29, 2013
Darren Mabe
Flagstaff, AZ
 
Darren Mabe   Flagstaff, AZ
 
Wow. Thanks for all the feedback! Engagement is very different from a route like Arch Enemy for many reasons, and would be more comparable to routes such as Coyote Tower or Earth Angel, also not everyone's cup of tea. Jul 15, 2013
JMo
Tucson, AZ
  5.10+
JMo   Tucson, AZ
  5.10+
A bunch of people have climbed this climb and found it to be a special climb in a special place. One person who is really really strong, and awesome, and good, is hell-bent on letting everyone know that he has been on better climbs, including an 11+ trad route in Sedona.

I hope more people climb it, selfishly, cause I like it and it will get better and better with more traffic. That's all. Let me know when there is a better climb, easier than .11, with six pitches or more, nearby, and I'll go climb it too. And even if I get dirty, get scared, or don't care for one section of one pitch, I'll probably give it 4 stars too. Cause I get too excited about fun rock climbs. It's a problem I have. Jul 13, 2013
jayci
Flagstaff
  5.10+ PG13
jayci   Flagstaff
  5.10+ PG13
Alright, I don't mean to totally dog the effort put into this route. I just typacally think of Four stars as universally good and not just good for an area. Also, This route seems to pale in comparison to routes such as Arch Enemy. That is not to say that there aren't some very good sections on this climb but it is far from flawless even for Sedona. On the flip side I would say I was a bit harsh in my last comments and would not discourage anyone from having a go at it. Jul 11, 2013
md3
 
md3  
 
I really enjoyed this route. It has a lot of high quality climbing on good rock in a spectacular setting. It represents a great find and I appreciate all the work that went into it. There are sustained sections of hand and finger to hands crack and only one dirty section on the third pitch. (It was windy when I did that pitch and dust got in my eyes and made me cry like a bad dream Richard Nixon had dozing off while Kissinger droned on about d├ętente and swarming black nano-gnats.) May 31, 2013
Robbie Brown
Flagstaff, AZ
  5.10+
Robbie Brown   Flagstaff, AZ
  5.10+
This is a great adventure! Leave the 5 at home for this one but do bust out the 00 C3 for the last pitch... Leading pitches 2,4,and 6 was a treat with a bunch of adventure climbing in the middle. 3.5 stars any day of the week! May 21, 2013
JMo
Tucson, AZ
  5.10+
JMo   Tucson, AZ
  5.10+
this climb has a bit of everything, at a high level of quality and at a sustained difficulty in the 9+ to 10 range. the window on pitch 6, with wildly exposed, yet safely bolted, chimneying/stemming, will stick in your memory. so will the splitter hands to layback roof on pitch 2 and the splitter fingers of pitch 4. there is an aura of burliness throughout. yet, bolts are there when you need them and otherwise the protection is solid. be advised- 10a leaders wont be happily and calmly on-sighting this one....

with respect to the oddly antagonistic and misplaced comments above: if you live in the bugaboos or something, maybe this is not a stellar line? then again, maybe you are cold 10 months of the year. but in the west fork of oak creek canyon, this climb is a modern classic. Apr 6, 2013
Joel Unema
Flagstaff, AZ
 
Joel Unema   Flagstaff, AZ
 
This climb is quite good, and not really very dirty. Pitch 3 is dirty, but is safe and not too difficult for the route. The climb has been equipped very well and is quite safe. Bring some small cams for the end of p6 and it is neither scary nor dangerous.
Get out there and do this climb! Sep 24, 2012
jayci
Flagstaff
  5.10+ PG13
jayci   Flagstaff
  5.10+ PG13
A Grey TCU in soft sandstone sounds a little less than "bomber". Last time I checked a grey TCU was valued at 4kn? that's not enough to take a full factor fall when it's placed perfectly in great rock. You should go up and fall on that piece and if it holds then this climb is as G rated as the Jonas Brothers. Sep 8, 2012
Eric D
Gnarnia
5.10+
Eric D   Gnarnia
5.10+
Overall great route. Pitches 2, 4, and 6 are excellent. Nice work Darren!

A bit of beta - I would leave the #5 next time and I did appreciate having a grey TCU on the last pitch. Also pay attention to the rap beta here. We didn't and the rappels were "interesting." I don't know where the PG13s are coming from. I felt well protected the whole way. Top of pitch 6 is a bit dirty but I got bomber pro every body length. Aug 20, 2012
Darren Mabe
Flagstaff, AZ
 
Darren Mabe   Flagstaff, AZ
 
glad you enjoyed the route! You guys should have seen it before it was cleaned! I called P3 the "Pitch of Despair" for a reason, though I am glad I didnt give up , because in hindsight was a small price of admission to the excellent 4th pitch finger crack, and exposed Window Pitch finale! It is a special route, especially considering its grade and length so close to Flagstaff.. Apr 11, 2012
Angela Mabe
Flagstaff,AZ
  5.10+
Angela Mabe   Flagstaff,AZ
  5.10+
i personally loved the 2,4 and 6 pitch. the 1,3 and 5th are adventurous for sure. yes it is dirty to top out the last pitch but remember that this is a new route, and the description does say "Finish on loose and dirty terrain to the top of the pillar! Creative pro." at least you got on it and got some dirt off, thanks :) Mar 7, 2012
jayci
Flagstaff
  5.10+ PG13
jayci   Flagstaff
  5.10+ PG13
Two worthy pitches on this climb in my opinion. Lots of junk in the middle. The top out on the last pitch is worth a mention as it is loose,dangerous, and not that fun. It's always great to put up a new route, but this is an example of thinking that the lines that you FA are the best. Not a five star venture I'm afraid. Mar 7, 2012
JacobD
Flagstaff, AZ
 
JacobD   Flagstaff, AZ
 
Sweet! Thanks Darren for posting this and for putting the hard work into the climb! Jan 6, 2012
Monty
Golden, CO
Monty   Golden, CO  
Great work to everyone involved, and congratulations on the Engagement! What a special route. Aug 8, 2011