This month’s edition of Grassroutes First Ascents is overwhelmed by routes in Arizona. Conditions have been incredible around Flagstaff and Sedona for the past month and I’ve gotten a lot of requests to share routes, so here it is, GFA #2: Spring Fever. Our April tour starts with some hard pebble-wrestling on Mt Elden, heads down the hill for some Sedona sand action, and ends up with Mt Lemmon’s hardest natural climb.
We’ll start things off with Danny Mauz’ Mt Elden gem: Tuckwave V11
Danny Mauz, of Flagstaff, AZ has taken full advantage of the warm weather to start a revival in bouldering on Mt Elden, in Flagstaff. The crisp dacite of Mt Elden offers some excellent granite-esque boulders in a beautiful pine forest.
A great video of Tuck Wave is here: https://vimeo.com/89950085
Our tour of new routes makes a stop in Sedona, with Jeff Snyder and Zach Harrison’s new route on the South Face of Oak Creek Spire. Southern Revival 5.12 may be the hardest spire route in Sedona, and certainly is one of the best!
Zach and Jeff put a lot of work into cleaning and equipping this line, and the result is this 560′ 6-pitch 5.12.
“Southern Revival climbs the grand dihedral system on the South Face of Oak Creek Spire. Stunning positioning, steep and sustained climbing, and challenging difficulties potentially make Southern Revival the hardest, free standing summit route in Sedona. An obvious system of steep cracks will take climbers through striking corners, demanding boulder problems and puckering ooh-aahh exposure. ”
–Jeff Syder and Zach Harrison via MountainProject
Tackling splitter hand cracks, offwidths, steep fingers, and several unique boulder problems, Southern Revival reaches the top of one of Sedona’s most prominent spires through difficult and varied climbing.
While Jeff and Zach battled unseasonably hot weather on their south-facing route, conditions were perfect at the Oak Creek Waterfall, and developers took full advantage of the dry crisp temps to establish seven new lines.
Dave Bloom is one the pioneers of rock climbing in Sedona, and is still putting up great new lines, including three at the Waterfall.
First, a moderate gem hidden between classics on the left wall: Bus Stop to Nowhere, a 5.11c following thin seams and face holds, a safe but spicy climb relying on thin gear.
Dave also opened Lakshmi Singh, a rope-stretching 5.12- on the left side of the main amphitheater. Dave’s eye had been drawn to this obvious dihedral for years, and it became known as Chad, for a flake mid-route in the shape of the country of the same name. In 2012, Josh Janes of Las Vegas, NV began looking at the line and placed one protection bolt on a short visit back to the waterfall. In 2013 Dave and I finished cleaning the route and he sent shortly thereafter.
Dave’s third new route is Helicopter Exodus 5.12+, a steep and pumpy dihedral hanging above the moderate Labor Day 5.9 on the right wall. Helicopter Exodus begins with a previously unclimbed system right of Labor Day and reaches a ledge, where the business begins. Flat jugs, small pockets, and unique crack holds lead up the severely overhung corner.
Kevin Kent, of Flagstaff, AZ made his first FA at the Waterfall when he opened Pyrrhic Victory 5.12 on the left wall. His new route requires thin crimping, stemming around a thin seam, and some long reaches to tackle the imposing roof left of the classic 5.11 Vertebrae.
I joined in the frenzy of Spring Fever development, opening two new climbs.
Alligator Sex Farm 5.13b tackles some of the steepest ground in the center of the amphitheater and requires pocket-pulling power, hip-wrenching stemming, and a bit of endurance. The climb is protected by three bolts and good gear.
I also opened Turn Down, For What? 5.13- on the Right Wall, climbing the thin open-book right of Flavor of the Day.
John Crawley, a prolific Northern Arizona Developer left a series of parting gifts just before moving to Colorado. His final contribution to the Waterfall was Earth Puller 5.13-, a technical arete on the Left Wall.
John has a unique gift; a knack for seeing outside the box and an eye for envisioning climbs where others do not. He added several high-quality bolted pitches to the Waterfall and opened several other areas during his years in Flagstaff.
Thanks to John for all of his contributions to Northern Arizona Climbing, you will be missed (until you return!!)
Our last stop on the Spring Fever tour is all the way down in Southern Arizona, on the granite of Mt Lemmon.
Alex Kirkpatrick has been quietly sending every hard route he touches in SoAZ, and has been finding his own difficult and quality climbs.
His latest is The Broken Blade 5.13d at a new area on Mt Lemmon. He equipped and sent this route, opening Mt Lemmon’s hardest un-chipped, un-glued, all-natural line.
As the howling winds of spring bring warmer temperatures to Arizona, climbers from the colder regions emerge from hibernation and begin to train for the summer season. I’m excited to share more new routes from around the country in upcoming GFA installations.
Thanks to all who contributed climbs and photos. The progression in Arizona climbing right now is inspiring and our communities are befitting from the efforts of all these developers.
Thanks to Blake McCord Photography
Grassroutes First Ascents is made possible by Mad Rock Climbing and Bluewater Ropes