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YDS: 5.12a French: 7a+ Ewbanks: 25 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 25 British: E5 6a

Type:  Trad, 4 pitches, 375'
Original:  YDS: 5.12a French: 7a+ Ewbanks: 25 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 25 British: E5 6a [details]
FA: Ray Ringle, John Steiger, 1983. 2nd pitch dir: Jim Waugh, Eric Rhicard , 1988
Page Views: 2,633
Submitted By: John Steiger on Sep 4, 2011

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Jim Waugh on the 3rd pitch (5.11c) of Ma'adim,...


I think this is the only route on Mt. Lemmon to have graced the cover of Climbing in fact, there are two more pictures of it in the feature article, "Hard Rock on the Lemmon" (No. 91, Aug 1985)). It shows Jim on the third pitch, dramatically palming a sloper and grimacing at the next move -- in hideously checkered yellow lycra. Those were the days, uh? (And, no, Ma'adim didn't make the cover just because I was the working at the mag at the time; it was the editor's call).

Vying for the hardest multi-pitch climb in Arizona in the early 1980s (Coming to Grips onto the Sound of One Hand Thrashing may have had a more fearsome reputation), RR and I made a number of attempts over several years before putting it together. Part of the reason, besides the sheer intimidation of the Sea Gods' overhanging red walls, was figuring out how to protect the thing -- RR at one point came up with a home-made 4-5" cam (the largest Friend we had was a no.3) to protect the first pitch. The cam was ungainly looking and had a tendency to tip out, so climbing past it took a certain amount of sacking up, particularly knowing that the next piece was a ways up and the pump was coming. I think that part of the climb is protected by fixed gear now, but I bet it's still an exciting lead.

(1) Gain and climb an overhanging groove/crack to its top, then work right along and past two small roofs (the second protected by a bolt) to a sling belay at a pin. This pitch overhangs by about 15 feet in 100' (5.11c/d). (2) Link features past two pins to a face protected by 3 bolts (the bolt protected face is Jim's variation, which EFR says is superior to the original route; the original went left to a loose, right-facing corner, then traversed back right to the line). Above the bolts, climb up and right past two more pins to a ledge system. Parsifal in the Climbing article said of this pitch, "a bizarre series of overhanging face moves, dancing on toetips in a frozen pirouette against a backdrop of granite." Goes with the lycra, I guess. (75'; 5.12a, maybe harder in light of the direct). Someone should combine pitches 1 and 2 to eliminate the sling belay -- making the climb really "free" -- but thoughtful use of runners, or double ropes, will be key. (3) Layback up the left-facing, left-leaning corner above to its top, then hand traverse right past a pin to a three-bolt belay off a small ledge. (60'?; 5.11c). (4) Follow a right-diagonalling crack to near its end in the vicinity of a pin, then work straight right past a bolt to easy ground and the summit. (60'?; 5.11b).

Some of the pins may not be necessary in light of today's gear (i.e., microcams and offsets). If they are crucial, I'm sure RR would agree that if someone wants to replace them with bolts (but with an eye toward retaining the climb's character), please do so -- they've had nearly 30 years of freeze/thaw now. In case you're wondering, "Ma'adim" is the Hebrew name for Mars.


Follow the descent down the scary 3rd-class gully on the north side of Neptune until the huge corner of Jaws is above. Head towards the cliff and catch the 3rd-class ledge that separates the Sea Gods into lower and higher buttresses. While still under the red wall, look for a few pins and a bolt protecting the first pitch, left of the bolt-line for Catch the Wave. EFR's 2000 guide has a picture of the first pitch.


Standard Tucson trad rack; consider tripling up on the smaller cams (to 1”). I recall a no.1 tricam being useful on the 4th pitch; with today’'s gear I doubt it is necessary.

Photos of Ma'adim Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: A couple of the old pins that were recently replac...
A couple of the old pins that were recently replac...
Rock Climbing Photo: Climber rappelling from the top of pitch 2.  Note ...
Climber rappelling from the top of pitch 2. Note ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Climber on pitch 1
Climber on pitch 1
Rock Climbing Photo: Belayer on duty at the base of Ma'adim on a very c...
Belayer on duty at the base of Ma'adim on a very c...
Rock Climbing Photo: Climber on pitch II. Notice his tag line dangling ...
Climber on pitch II. Notice his tag line dangling ...
Rock Climbing Photo: View from pitch I belay, wildly overhung.
View from pitch I belay, wildly overhung.

Comments on Ma'adim Add Comment
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By 1Eric Rhicard
Sep 30, 2011

Geir Hundal with help from friends and hardware donated by ASCA has replaced the old fixed pins and old anchors with new stainless steel bolts and hangers. Can't wait to get on it again.

Thanks ASCA and Geir.
By Geir
From: Tucson, AZ
Sep 30, 2011
rating: 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a

Thanks Eric!!

Eric actually helped get the gear by making arrangements with the ASCA. Additionally he provided a lot of guidance and labor to get this done. Dave Merin also helped replace hardware and was the person who got me psyched about the route to begin with. Thanks Eric and Dave for helping make this happen!!

This is a fantastic route. It has challenging climbing up great features, sound rock, and great exposure. Don't miss this one if you enjoy hard adventure routes.
By jbak
Oct 1, 2011

David, Geir, Eric... thanks... you've done a great service. Sounds like a lot of work.
By 1Eric Rhicard
Oct 16, 2011

It has been 23 years since I climbed this route in 1988. Wow. Back then I didn't appreciate what an impressive line John and Ray did. I do now. First second and third pitches are stellar with good pro. The traverse to the anchors at the end of the third pitch can cost you the redpoint and seems as hard as any other moves on the climb.

A #4 Camalot is nice to have for the first pitch just after the second bolt. A rack of doubles to 00 cams We used two stoppers a fat one and a finger sized one left by Geir on the third. No #3 camalot needed.


We did the direct and I would suggest you traverse right on a good green camalot in a horizontal rather than moving up to clip the bolt used on the original route. It can be done going that way but it is harder. The last pitch takes away from the overall experience. Safe tenuous moves lead to a long traverse right with grainy rock, a bad stopper and a committing move to reach easier ground. A whipper might lead to a meeting with your belayer. This is a true test piece for the AZ badass.

An old #4 Camalot or an old 3-1/2 is nice to have for the first pitch just after the second bolt. A rack of doubles to 00 cams We used two stoppers a fat one and a finger sized one left by Geir on the third. No #3 camalot needed.
By Austin Sobotka
From: Tucson, AZ
Jul 14, 2015

Rain quarantined us to the North face of Neptune today. So, After Arc of a Diver (which is awesome) we decided to get on the first pitch of Ma'adim. It's quite a bit harder than its neighbor, which is supposedly .11c. Assuming an accurate grade on Arc, the first pitch of Ma'adim seems to deserve a solid .11d. If the rest of the route is as good as its first pitch this might just be the best trad line on the mountain! I guess I'll have to come back to find out.
As for gear: I had a single rack and some stoppers. It definitely would have been nice to have a second #2 and a few more finger-sized pieces. Be sure to bring stoppers though, as nice, clean constrictions abound.

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