Sunday, January 25, 2015

Technicolor Corner and Others, Sedona

Spent another Saturday in Sedona and it did not disappoint.  Other than cold temps and gusty winds in the morning, it was a perfect day. We intended on climbing Epitaph (5.9+) but on the approach we passed a beautiful and clean corner that was sitting directly in the sun, which turned out to a classic route in the area - Technicolor Corner. So rather than climbing Epitaph in the shade, we opted for Technicolor Corner in the warm sun. The route is 3 pitches:
  • Pitch 1 is just the way to get to the climb (5.8)
  • Pitch 2 is THE pitch which climbs a beautiful dihedral crack (5.10)
  • Pitch 3 is a very fun and varied slab line past ~8 bolts (mostly not very trustworthy) - climb at your own risk (5.9 R) 
Windy on the early approach
Paul leading pitch 1 of Technicolor Corner
Richard leading the way up the money pitch of Technicolor Corner (5.10 trad) 
    Me working up the corner
Paul laying back on that crack
Paul on the crux
A small pocket felt like a giant hold after working through the crux
Our fearless leader on pitch 3, clipping into bolt hangers made of flimsy metal 
Me looking cool on pitch 3 of Technicolor Corner
Looking down the slab towards Paul 
This pitch was steep, ignore what your senses may tell you 
I'm all about belaying with guide ATC's and putting out the vibe 
Paul - send this one to your mom 

So after Technicolor Corner, we also climbed Anvil Spire and an unnamed Spire just next door.  It made for a full day with 3 of us.

Guys, I had to crawl to make it to the top of Anvil Spire 
Belaying Richard up Anvil Tower
Schnebly Hill Rd in the background, learn more about the namesake of Sedona and Schnebly Hill Rd HERE
Watch this cool video of Richard climbing the unnamed tower VIDEO

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Mace, Sedona

The Mace via The Original Route
5.9+ trad, 5 pitches, Grade III

The Mace is one of the most well-known climbs in Northern Arizona. In fact, I heard about it within a week of moving to Flagstaff last year. The route climbs a double spire that requires a wide step over a 300 ft. gap on the final pitch, which makes for an exciting finish to a challenging and adventurous route.

Richard and I climbed The Mace yesterday in 65 degree weather, it was perfect. We alternated leads and started climbing around 8 am.
15-minute approach at 7:30 am to the Mace, the furthest left spire(s) (400 ft.)
1st Pitch:
I lead the first pitch up an insecure flaring crack and over a small limestone roof to an eyebolt anchor. 5.8
Richard coming up the first pitch
2nd Pitch:
Richard the second pitch up a crack with a tricky start and into a chimney and a short off-width crack to the belay. 5.9
3rd Pitch:
The third pitch begins with an exposed traverse, then climbs another awkward crack system. 5.9 
4th Pitch:
Richard leading the 4th pitch through the slot between two different spires. 5.9+
The beginning of this pitch required stemming both walls, eventually Richard put some gear in the crack on the right side 
Close to the crux on pitch 4 (steep offwidth)
Mid-climb pic of this cool mushroom rock
5th Pitch:
Richard crossing the gap between the lower summit and the true summit on the 5th pitch.  Fortunately it is well protected by a bolt and there is a small flake for your hands (not much feet though!) 5.9
Rappelling from the lower summit.  You can see the gap we crossed to get to and from the true summit.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Mt. Elden Slabs

Mt. Elden is a unique volcanic feature in an area dotted with volcanoes.  Unlike the dozens of cinder cones in the area around Flagstaff, Mt. Elden is a lava dome that extruded viscous lava flows and built a steep dome.  Today there are numerous hiking, running, biking, and climbing opportunities on and around Mt. Elden.  Perhaps the least traveled route, is a scramble up the 45 degree southern slabs of Mt. Elden.  The route climbs 2,500 ft. in about a mile over predominantly 3rd class terrain with a couple 4th class sections.

Paul and I started at the Mt. Elden lookout trail around lunchtime and made our way towards the slabs.  We climbed up onto the slabs and climbed the natural stair master all the way to the top.  It took an hour and a half from car to the summit, 15 minutes for a break and snacks on the summit, and another 45 minutes to hike down the trail.  2.5 hours roundtrip at a normal pace.

Paul getting onto the Elden slabs
Scrambling on Elden
January on Mt. Elden slabs 
Close to the top
One final obstacle
View looking Northwest from summit of Mt. Elden

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Wasatch Backcountry Skiing

Christmas day of 2014 delivered a huge snow storm and it was followed by another dump of dry, fluffy wasatch powder 2 days later.  Both storms accounted for as much as 50" of snow.  That week was one of the best weeks of skiing I have ever experienced.  I skied at Alta twice and skied in the backcountry 3 times.

Wasatch Backcountry
Day 1: Summit Park - honestly, not the most efficient place to ski (or atleast the line we choose).  We skinned up to Summit Park Peak(?) in about an hour and a half and skied down in about 30 minutes. 5 minutes of that was skiing through knee deep, dry powder so no complaints.
Nice view to the south from atop Summit Park
Looking southeast from Summit Park 
John enjoying the untracked, dry snow in Summit Park 
Making some nice, easy turns on mild terrain in Summit Park backcountry
Day 2: Flagstaff Mountain, Little Cottonwood Canyon - we may not have done it in style, but we had a great time skiing Oingo Boingo, Upper Days, and Toledo Bowl on this fine day in the mountains. The ridge line was pretty windy, but just below the ridges it was calm and the snow was undisturbed and deep!
Luke coming down Oingo Boingo
Skinning back up Flagstaff
Day 3: Decided to get a little creative as a lot of the easily accessible backcountry was getting skied out.  A crew of amateur backcountry skiers made our way up White Pine Fork in Little Cottonwood Canyon.  With a tentative plan in mind, we followed the skin track up the canyon which pretty much forced us on the eastern side of the canyon (where much of the snow was wind-affected and not ideal). We yielded to the terrain and skied part of Columbine Bowl and West Scotties.  A lot of work for a couple turns, but it was fun to get out - as always.
Billie, Dani, and Luke coming up White Pine
Getting windy and cold up on West Scotties in White Pine Canyon
Climbing up Columbine Bowl

Friday, December 12, 2014

Bell Rock, Mars Attacks, and Priest Draw

December 10-11, 2014

With great weather and couple days in between finals and an academic conference in San Francisco, Sedona climbing was calling.  On Wednesday, Paul, Hilary and I went to scramble up and climb Bell Rock on the south side of town.  We scrambled up a gully on the west side of the formation and climbed one short pitch at 5.8 to gain the summit.  A fun little spire with a nice summit.  

Hilary and Paul scrambling up Bell Rock 
Panorama from Bell Rock
That afternoon, Paul and I went and messed around on some of the boulders at Priest Draw - a world famous bouldering destination.  I'm no "boulderer" but this was a fun time.  Tons of cool problems, mostly too hard for me to even make the first move.  We climbed on and around the Triangle Rock.

On Thursday, George and I climbed Mars Attacks! in Sedona (5.9 trad/sport, 4 pitches, Grade II).  We parked at the Devil's Bridge trailhead (4x4 necessary) and made the 30 minute approach to the base of the route. This route is a favorite among locals, and for good reason!  Pretty solid rock (for Sedona) and varied and quality climbing.  

Pitch 1 - Bolted slab pitch (thin!) up and right to a 2-bolt anchor on the limestone band (5.9+)

Pitch 2 - Bolted traverse on the limestone band to a 2-bolt anchor (5.8)

Pitch 3 - Long trad pitch up a super fun and varied crack, chimney - 2-bolt anchor on the left (5.7)

Pitch 4 - Finish off the crack and bolted slab to the top - 2-bolt anchor (5.9)

Descent: 3 rappels with a 70-m rope  (use chains 30 feet to right of top anchor)

Slabby, bolted first pitch
George coming up the thin slab
2nd pitch - the $$ pitch
Such a unique and awesome pitch
Curious bird
George finishing off the traverse pitch
Third pitch - crack and chimney
George finishing up the sweet 3rd pitch 
4th pitch crack before the slab
Top of the route
Mars Attacked - we won
Agave attacked - I lost
Unfortunately I somehow got a 1 inch long agave spike entirely inside my leg on our hike out.  Also unfortunate, I had to go to the hospital to get it out.