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Flight of the Phoenix
Sport, 70 ft,
Avg: 3 from 3
FA: Prep: Ben Schmitt. FFA: Mark Anderson, 15 Feb 2013
> Canon City
> Shelf Rd
> Cactus Cliff
Perhaps Shelf Road's hardest free route, Flight of the Phoenix climbs a beautiful white wall, split by a short but burly bulge. This climb is quite unique among Shelf's hard routes, climbing almost entirely on full-pad or larger holds. There are no tweaky pockets or razor crimps. The crux involves strenuous compression climbing on relatively big slopers, where strong biceps and core tension are more helpful than titanium fingers and impeccable footwork.
Teeter up a spooky, vibrating tower to an intimidating roof. Some fun, 5.11 finger-locking leads over this obstacle to a sit-down ledge below the crux. A handful of easy moves leads to the bulge, where three or four consecutive slaps, each one more difficult than the last, culminate in an all-out, soaring huck for a flat mini-ledge. After a decent shake on this ledge, one more balancey 5.12 move guards the relatively trivial headwall.
This route was conceived and equipped by Ben Schmitt in late 2009. This route, more than any other, inspired the surge in difficult route development that Shelf has experienced in the last few years, by demonstrating that quality hard plums were still waiting to be snatched, even at Shelf's most picked-over crags. Many thanks to Ben for his vision for Shelf and his effort in bolting this, and many other great routes, around Colorado.