Sunday, May 3, 2015

Sedona's Scenic Cruise (5.9 trad, 5 pitches)

May 2, 2015

This is a must-do route for the Sedona area. It offers a wide variety of quality climbing, protects well, and was pretty challenging for me. The route climbs the west prow of Gibraltar Rock, one of Sedona's biggest walls. The approach and the first pitch tied for the crux of the day. The descent essentially rappels the route (4 double-rope raps).  

We spent an extra hour and a lot of extra energy on the approach than we should have. We read various approach descriptions and ended up wandering a bit before we found the approach. Here's my description of the approach, which we learned on the way out:

Park at Little Horse Trailhead. Follow the Bell Rock trail to the south until you cross the second bridge. Turn left (east) and follow the wash to the base of Gibraltar Rock. Continue up the left side (north) of Gibraltar Rock following prevalent cairns to the base of the route.    

Sedona's Scenic Cruise approach (image from Google Earth)
After a slightly demoralizing and exhausting approach, we reached the base of the climb. We started climbing after 1 pm. I led every pitch and was pretty tired at the end of the day. 

Pitch 1: The first pitch was the crux - a nice corner system transitions into a hand crack and then transitions into a wide leaning crack. At this point, I used small face holds and jammed my shoulder into the wide crack and inched my way up until I could protect it. Fun and challenging pitch.  5.9+
Janelle moving into the easier section on pitch 1

Pitch 2: The second pitch was a bolted cruiser. 5.7
Cruising on easier bolted terrain
Pitch 3: The third pitch starts out doing an exposed traverse (see money shot below) and then climbs a sweet crack system to a large ledge. This was my favorite pitch. 5.8
Money shot #1 - 3rd pitch
Money shot #2 - beginning of third pitch
A view of the upper portion of the third pitch $$ (I took this on our way down)
Pitch 4: The fourth pitch follows 10 bolts up and over steep terrain to a small belay ledge. 5.9
Janelle approaching top of 4th pitch
Pitch 5: The final pitch requires some delicate, unprotected moves into a chimney with a chockstone and a small roof. Then you follow a corner system to the top. 5.9
Looking north from the top of Sedona's Scenic Cruise - you can see the Peaks in the Flagstaff area on the right side of the horizon
Looking west 
Sedona sunset
Sedona sunset 2
Moonrise over Gibraltar Rock