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Vortex in a Can 

YDS: 5.10+ French: 6b+ Ewbanks: 21 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 20 British: E3 5b

Type:  Trad, 3 pitches
Original:  YDS: 5.10+ French: 6b+ Ewbanks: 21 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 20 British: E3 5b [details]
FA: Chris Tatum and John Burcham
Season: fall to spring
Page Views: 4,505
Submitted By: Aimee Rose on Apr 6, 2006

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (25)
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The view of the Cathedral Group summits from the t...


P1: Clip a couple bolts then head left into a layback flake. Climb this until it seems like it's going to disappear, then head right over a small roof, where you will find another bolt.

P2: Move over easy slab with bolts.

P3: The crux. Move left from the belay up a steep arete into a corner. Move right out of the corner over steep ground to clip a couple bolts. Then head right again and up. Finish back to the left over steep jugs to a chain anchor.


Hike up to Cathedral Rock to the notch where you can see an unusual volcanic plug (some say this is the vortex). Follow the trail over the notch and keeping to the left side of the rock. Head in between two sandstone formations and follow the rock heading south. Come around the formation to head to the west and start looking for bolts on the south-facing face.


Chain or bolted anchors at the top of every pitch. Bolts and gear for the rack. Bring small TCUs or Aliens for the first pitch and up to a #3 Camalot for the rest.

Photos of Vortex in a Can Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: map. best approach option drawn on with approximat...
BETA PHOTO: map. best approach option drawn on with approximat...
Rock Climbing Photo: Penultimate moves on Vortex in a Can
Penultimate moves on Vortex in a Can
Rock Climbing Photo: Not to be alarmist, but I noted the spiderwebbing ...
BETA PHOTO: Not to be alarmist, but I noted the spiderwebbing ...
Rock Climbing Photo: The start of pitch 2 (I thought the mantle onto th...
The start of pitch 2 (I thought the mantle onto th...
Rock Climbing Photo: Heather Hayes on a tricky section of pitch 1.
Heather Hayes on a tricky section of pitch 1.
Rock Climbing Photo: Phototopo of Vortex in a Can.
BETA PHOTO: Phototopo of Vortex in a Can.

Comments on Vortex in a Can Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Nov 16, 2016
By Kole DeCou
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Dec 25, 2006

Great route. A few things that might be useful:

1. Bring at least 2 blue Aliens for the crux pitch. I probably would have placed 3 or 4 if I'd had 'em.

2. You can get down with 1 60m rope. From the top of P2 a 60m rope barely gets you down with stretch.

3. The top of South Mesa is a really cool spot to be. It's worth topping out. You can solo the topout pitch at about 5.5 or stay roped up. There is an anchor at the top.
By Dean Hoffman
Jan 4, 2010
rating: 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b

Very, very fun climb, great winter route! l would recommend approaching through the notch by the mace and then skirting the sandstone around below the Dodger etc... As far as the climbing we had a blast! I don't know about blue aliens but on the third pitch I did use two 00 and 0 metolius. Watch for rope drag at the last roof. Also you could use #2 camalot near the top but really only need doubles up to #1 camalot. Have fun.
By Jason Nelson
From: SLC, UT
Feb 12, 2012

Full Directions: From Sedona, head South on 89A, take a left onto 179 at the first roundabout. Take a right at Back O' Beyond rd (signed) after a couple of roundabouts. Go about a mile and park at the trail-head (you can't miss it). Pay the iron ranger for parking.
Hike up the Cathedral Spires Trail. You'll be following a line of tourists at most times. Make sure you head uphill toward the spires and don't get confused by the trails bisecting the route. Once at the Notch go left about 200' (you'll be on the other side of the spires looking at the volcanic plug) and hike up through another notch separating some spires. Head down on the other side and go right contouring the cliff (you'll be heading SE). There is a trail on the limestone ledge. When the ledge gets exposed, drop down onto the sandstone slab and continue all the way around the spires. You'll drop down in elevation prior to reaching the route.
Here is a GPS map of the approach. (note: we got a little turned around at the spires as you can see)
By Ryan Z
Mar 15, 2013
rating: 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b

The approach is pretty straight forward. Gear wasn't really an issue. I led P1 and P3. I had a single Red C3 #.1, Doubles from .3-.5, then singles from .75 - #4, and a set of nuts. Having the four was pretty nice after the tips section but not a necessity. Sweet climb!
By ehhaole
From: Seattle, WA
Dec 29, 2013

On the approach, after the notch and slabs we passed a couple of 'fingers' of the mesa and a little drainage before arriving at the actual wall.
By Adam Zagorsky
Dec 29, 2013
rating: 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b

Awesome route. I brought up a double rack from #.4-3 of C4's and a single set of C3's. However, I only used singles from #.4 C4 to #1 C4 and the single set of C3's. There were places for bigger pieces but, that is all that I used.
By aking89
Jun 2, 2014

Can anyone provide a little bit more descriptive approach details? I have been out there twice and got stumped both times. Some of the descriptions seem a little conflicting. Any help would be nice.
By Dean Hoffman
Oct 22, 2014
rating: 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b

The times I've been out to Vortex I basically have walked towards the Mace and followed a pretty good trail around the east side of the formation. At some point we usually get impatient and bushwack up over the ridge. Once on the slickrock on the South side of the formation keep heading West until you see this... Shouldn't be too hard to find.

Also, a great variation is to traverse over into the last pitch of Freedom. Awesome fingers in a corner.
By SummitSender
Nov 7, 2015

For good updated approach info see Freedom comments.
By Kevin Kent
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Dec 6, 2015

Going straight up the splitter after the first bolt on pitch 1 is really nice 11a, very protectable with small cams and offset nuts.

We linked to P3 of Freedom which is sublime!
By Bill Lundeen
From: Lee Vining, CA
Nov 16, 2016
rating: 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b

Great little route; reminiscent of some of Sedona's newer additions. Short pitches and somewhat soft ratings make it a fun, sunny outing on a short, cold winter day. Personally appreciated the "easy" 10+ rating put on it. We thought the first pitch was just as hard (at 10c or so).

Good rock, great hike, easy to find, and a single rope. How nice!

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