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Routes in Zoroaster Temple

NE Arete T 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
SE Face T 5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a R
Screaming Sky Crack T 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c R
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Type: Trad, 500 ft, 4 pitches, Grade II
FA: Carl Tobin 1994
Page Views: 5,735 total · 72/month
Shared By: Zach Harrison on Apr 29, 2012
Admins: Luke Bertelsen, JJ Schlick, Greg Opland

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This route climbs a trio of very nice clean cracks on the front of the NE Arete. If you like hand and fist cracks, this is for you. Pitches 2 and 4 are very striking splitters.

Pitch 1: Climb a short pillar to a ledge, traverse the roof into the hand and fist crack. Belay on a pedestal. 5.10, 120 feet.
Pitch 2: Traverse into the nice crack climbing fingers to hands to fists, pass an overhang and up a wide crack to a ledge. 5.9, 110 feet
Pitch 3: Pass go, collect 200 feet. Belay at the base of the headwall. 5.5 R, 200 feet.
Pitch 4: Climb the striking headwall crack of thin hands, a boulder problem, then hands and fists. 5.10+, 100 feet.

Post script. I recently found these comments referencing the route.

The route up the white streak on the steep face is the Screaming Sky Crack I think, which is the route Carl and I used to make what we think is the first 1 day ascent of Zoro, August 14th 1994. There is a small write up in Rock and Ice #64 from Nov/Dec 1994. 22 and a half hours car to car-
Carl had scoped the route prior at least 2 times and knew where to go- He asked me and we sent on his third attempt- I think the first attempt was with Bill Hatcher and the second attempt was with Dave Willey- I assuredly had an advantage because of Carl's prior knowledge of the long approach. We were also friends and climbing partners. We left at 8 PM went down the South Kaibab to Phantom then up Bright Angel to Clear Creek up to Sumner Wash and through the Supai etc. Long and Amazing day and was cooked for days after. At the time I was sewing for Deucy at A5 and essentially living out of my car and the shop- Deucy was OK with that- I would recommend a 3 day trip-
Eric Meudt

FYI the "way steep headwall" part of the first rappell is an alternate route that starts around left of the NE arete and follows beautiful cracks to a ridge that leads to the base of the steep headwall. You crank up the headwall via splitter hands to fingers past a block (5.11) then fists to the rim. It's and awesome pitch in a wild setting! Carl Tobin was involved with the first ascent...called it the "sky crack", or something like that. He and I did the second ascent in 27 hrs round trip from the S. Kaibab trailhead in like AUG '96 or '97. He went back the next week and did it in 23 hrs? Three ascents in 3 weeks.

Three ascents in three weeks, are you kidding? No, this route is that good, go do it! If this route was in Sedona, it would have been climbed in the early 80's and would be one of the best routes in the area. In my opinion, as good as it gets for a desert tower route. But the approach...
We replaced the summit register 4/15, its under a mini cairn on the south side of the summit as you can finally see into the main canyon.


The route is on the outside of the nose of the NE Arete. Start East of the NE Arete route, look for a recent rockfall roof 30 feet up. A low angle ramp starts at the same spot and heads up and left. This is the first ascent route of Zoroaster. There is a very old bolt about 50 feet up this ramp.

To get down, find the station 30' right of the top of the 4th pitch.
Rap 105' down to a station.
Rap 60' to a ledge with a tree, angle hard left!
Rap 100' to a ledge, stay on rappel and move left and rap 10' to the lower tier of the ledge. Station on big ledge WAY to the left.
Rap 115' to ledge, knot your tails!
Rap 50' to Earth.
All stations consist of 2 bolts. Rejoice.


Good gear throughout except on pitch 3, which is very easy. 1X fingers to thin hards, 2-3X hands and fists, 1-2 offwidth pieces. No bolts.
There is a crushed hex in the crack on the last pitch, I doubt it is worth much as pro. The hex has "Gary Doyle" inscribed on it. One 70m mandatory for rappels.
Flagstaff, AZ
JimmyK   Flagstaff, AZ
Incredible Route: P1: Awesome undercling, lieback roof, then sweet crack. P2: Excellent, sustained crack that continues to widen. P3: Easy, unprotectable slab climbing to the base of P4. P4: Beautiful sustained crack on headwall. Surreal setting. One of the best pitches I have ever climbed. Protection: Recommended big gear: 2-3 BD#4, 1-2 BD#5. There is a register on top underneath some cairns on the south end, which can be difficult to find because the register consists of one piece of paper in a plastic bag buried underneath rocks. The register could use a little can/canister if anyone is ambitious. Rap: It is easy to stick your rope in a crack on the last rap. Climbed in April, route was primarily in the shade.

View the trip:… Apr 24, 2013
I can say with a lot of confidence that this is indeed the route we used in 1994. Although almost 20 years have gone by I still remember sitting at the base in the early morning waiting for the sun. We arrived at the base in the dark. Yes we approached in the night- all night long we walked and got to the base 45 minutes prior to sunrise. Carl and I were out there trying to beat the Summer heat and the 24 hour limit we imposed on ourselves. Near the base was a Pink Rattlesnake that had recently eaten a meal. As soon as the sun rose in the East we were off. We climbed fast and light and topped out in the Summer blaze. We never found a register and spent about as minimal time as possible on the summit. We rapped off, packed and started walking. The temps when we reached Phantom were approaching 110 degrees. We filled our water bottles and proceeded to hike out the South Kaibab trail. Carl arrived at the trailhead a few minutes before me- about 22 and a half hours after we started. We took no camera and I rarely ever spoke about the ascent except to friends- Now that 20 years have gone by I am so proud of this, as this is an exceptional route. Oct 16, 2013
BTW- I do not remember a fixed hex in the crack on our ascent. Also I think our ascent was the 3rd ascent of the SSC and the first 1 day ascent of Zoroaster. The year was 1994, and I am sure of that. Oct 16, 2013
Grade II ? Yup... at that pace, guessing you didn't stop for a few Tecates at the ranch. Apr 30, 2015
Zach Harrison
Zach Harrison   Flagstaff
I was referring to just the climb as grade II. If you did it in a day, it would be more like a grade IV. If you took 3 days, it wouldn't make it a grade VI though. Tecate doesn't even taste good to me when I'm dying of thirst in the Grandest Canyon. May 1, 2015
I am sure that Carl and I rated the route 5.11. I am unsure when the route was downrated or who downrated SSC. Jul 5, 2015
Zach Harrison
Zach Harrison   Flagstaff
Hey Eric, when we climbed this the first time and thought it was a new route we thought that it felt about 5.10+. We were wrong on both accounts. At the time I was climbing with Eric Frye a lot and we tended to think that everything that was kind of hard was 5.10+. Anyway, I have climbed this route 3 times now and think that its more like 5.11-. Each time I camped at the saddle and enjoyed a 5 minute stroll to the base of the route. I bet if you climbed this immediately after hiking all the way there from the south rim it would feel harder. Anyway, it would be cool to have a beer and talk about this route someday. Sep 24, 2015
Hey Zach,

Yeah man let's grab a beer sometime. That would be fun. Mar 8, 2016
Trevor Bowman
Flagstaff, AZ
Trevor Bowman   Flagstaff, AZ
Top notch tower route for sure! There were several sections that wavered between #3 and #4 Camalot size. The old #3.5 Camalots or an equivalent piece would have been great to have. If you have any of this size, I would swap out 2 of the #3 Camalots for the #3.5 size.

The new rap line was awesome! Again, much appreciation to you guys for fixing up this setup, it was a major community service. Replacement of the outdated summit whiskey stash was also appreciated. Apr 19, 2016
flagstaff, AZ
markguycan   flagstaff, AZ
Zoro is one major endeavor.
Approach took us much longer than estimanted even though it seemed to come together pretty straight forwardly. 6hrs from Phantom Ranch. We started at 0500 and enjoyed full moon illumination to Sumner Wash. We were able to find relatively easy solo climbs up all the ledges and avoided belaying or jugging any fixed lines.
Being short on time we decided to lead then simul-belay both followers as we were a party of three. This enabled us to climb 4 pitches in 3.5hrs. Loved the route! P1 reminded me a bit of Castles in the Sand (Sedona) but easier. P2 reminded me of Pocketfull of Horses (also Sedona). P3 really wasn't all that run-out. P4 was AWESOME! the upper half reminded me of Wiggins (Indian Creek) but easier. We did not linger on the summit but started rappelling straight away in order to get to the base before sunset. The second to last rap anchor (the 115ft rap) is not confidence building as it consists of one dead bush and one half dead bush. ---Now reviewing the descent topo, it seems we missed the bolted anchor WAY TO THE LEFT---
We found anchors and fixed ropes on the ledge descent route enabling us to skip all the sketchy down-climbs in the dark. We botched the descent a bit by heading about 1/4mile south above the redwall notch; we then decided to wait for the moon to help us get our bearings. A half hour later and out of the shadow it was pretty straight forward, it still took us about 6hrs to return to Phantom.
Recommend rack: single set smalls-#5, dbl #3.5's; 70m. Dec 16, 2016
Neha Khurana
Neha Khurana  
Always a wonderful time on Zoroaster! The ascent and descent route is currently well marked with cairns/trail. The fixed lines were replaced last week and look great! As mentioned earlier, stay out of Sumner wash - there is a great trail marked with cairns that will save time and energy. The rappel situation is still ambiguous, in my opinion. I have been on Zoro twice and had to down climb both times. Nonetheless, SSC is a quality route in an unbeatable location! We brought singles BD 0.3-0.5, doubles 0.75-4 and it was sufficient. A #5 could be placed but definitely not necessary.… - A video of our 21 hour rim-to-rim adventure Apr 22, 2018
Tempe, AZ
  5.11- R
TKlein   Tempe, AZ
  5.11- R
If not the best, than certainly in the discussion for the best multipitch route in Arizona. A surreal experience for me and something I’ll remember for a lifetime. It was that good May 2, 2018

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