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Secret Canyon

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Carnal Caves, The 
Kodachrome Spire/Area 
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Secret Canyon Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 8,000'
Location: 35.2464, -111.58659 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 5,064
Administrators: Greg Opland, Luke Bertelsen, JJ Schlick, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: JJ Schlick on Mar 12, 2011


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View of town from the caves, storm rolling in...


Secret Canyon is a rough and tumble jagged gash of cliffs on the east side of Mt. Elden. And if you know the trail "Fatman's Loop", this area pretty much sits above the apex of that loop, though shorter approaches exist.

This place was once quite the scene where Flagstaff climbers got to stretch out on some of the first bolted routes in the area during the late eighties/early nineties. Today, it is an over grown ghost town of a crag with the tatters of webbing anchors flapping in the winds... Clearly signaling the adventure ahead.

Sporting some 50 lines, many of these lines follow steep bolted aretes, and thin faces which were commonly bolted on lead with the use of hooks. Mixed and trad lines are also present so a rack up to 3.5" is handy. The stone is Dacite, and this crag, like all of them on Mt. Elden has it's own peculiar style. Whether you call it face climbing or oldschool, or both, the climbing is guaranteed to get your attention and keep it.

Bring plenty of webbing for anchors if you feel like wrestling with any of the old routes. Every anchor we could see from the ground was a fuzzy mess of webbing, if there was any webbing left at all. Not all the old routes have bolted anchors, and a light rack is advised for exploration, even on what might look like a sport route. Be prepared with leaver biners, rap rings, or quick links.

The Carnal Caves area boasts a selection of new climbs, with bomber hardware.

Getting There 

Off of Route 66, find N Snowflake Drive. Follow that around until you come to sort of Cul de sac which is the termination of Glacier Dr. Park here, but be courteous to home owners.

Head out on two track service roads leading N by NW to a very obvious clearing with a small building which is most likely a well house. Continue heading north through the field and then continue on single track until small rise. Look for distinct trail leading off left. Follow this trail down a small rise. From this point there are several drainages in front of you. Take the middle one, but stay above on the small ridge, and start heading up hill. If you come across a very large boulder sitting in a wash (with several problems on it) then you are doing well. From just above this boulder look for steep climbers trail through some small boulders. Try to follow this as best you can passing through a quaint bouldering spot about halfway up. When you get to the frontside of the larger formations, Kodachrome should be the first big piece of good rock that you see. Stay below formations and hike west to get to the Sun King Tower, The Carnal Caves, and the Upper Amphitheater.

I won't lie to you... This is still a bush whacky hike, and if such things ruin your day, I wouldn't recommend this area. Once you hit the climbers trail remember that it is more the "suggestion" of a trail, rather than a trail proper. Expect to lose the trail. Expect loose terrain as well as boulder hopping, and 4th class exposed scrambling. There are cairns all over the place and paying attention to them may lead you astray, maybe not. This is freaking bear country.

Climbing Season

For the Mt. Elden Crags area.

Weather station 3.2 miles from here

13 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',3],['3 Stars',7],['2 Stars',2],['1 Star',1],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Secret Canyon

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Secret Canyon:
The Enticer   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 1 pitch, 50'   The Carnal Caves
Where Eagles Dare   5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 100'   Kodachrome Spire/Area
Secret Garden   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   The Carnal Caves
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Secret Canyon

Featured Route For Secret Canyon
Rock Climbing Photo: Sun King  Emilia Anderson photo

Sun King Direct 5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a  Arizona : Northern Arizona : ... : Sun King Tower, West Face
Sun King Direct is one of the most aesthetic lines to be found up here. The route tackles a vertical 80' pillar, with the middle section dominated by a large and unique scoop/hueco. This is a mixed line, and the gear in the middle is hard to place, with the best pieces being small #4 wires. A #2 TCU can also provide some reassurance. A couple moves above this there is a good #2 Camalot pod before launching back into the scoop and the final two bolts of business. Crack system t...[more]   Browse More Classics in Arizona

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