We then headed to Arizona for the last leg of the trip and climbed at Granite Mountain, a beautiful granite crag that we used to visit quite often in the fall while we were still working in Los Alamos. The weather was terrible on the road: lots of rain, and some fog going over the passes on Hwy 28
On our first day at granite Mountain, we climbed "Reunion". We left reasonably early but much later that initially planned… I think we started hiking around 9 AM or so. We were reminded of how long this approach is… Saw a good size Tarantula on trail (and took several pictures of it). We got to the great ledge at the base of the main buttress in beautiful sun but a fairly stiff breeze. It was bit chilly.
Another party was already going up the standard route "Coatimundi Corner". We took our time getting racked up, ate a bagel and drank some water. The first pitch is easy but felt a bit sandbagged. It ends with a fun traverse to a small belay stance just below the main corner.
I remembered the next pitch from a few years ago… bad sign. I know I had to hang from at least one piece that time. Sure enough, the first few moves are a bit desperate: bad off-finger crack in a bulging corner and no footholds at all on the left side: super physical and awkward. I made it without hanging this time. Above that, the crack gets a bit more friendly (hands and offwitdh but mostly hands) but the climbing remains very sustained and a bit off-balance. I was thoroughly worked by the time I got to the end of this pitch. 5.9+ my ass!
The third pitch is the reward: a gorgeous, less-than-vertical, sharp edged finger crack splitting a gorgeous white granite wall. There are even a few foot holds at intervals for rest! Sweeeet! The end of the crack veers right and gets pretty thin in spots. For the last few moves, you walk your feet up the diagonal crack while underclinging at the same time. A terrific pitch!
From here, a sweet but mostly unprotected hand traverse along the sharp arete leads to the notch and the standard route. I wanted to try the 5.8+ exit and actually went up it to the crux move… 10 feet up and left from a bolt, you need to make this committing move into a small ramp with no feet at all… I chickened out and traversed right into the 5.6 (sandbag!) exit. This easier option traverses sharply right into an easy (but wet) gully and the rap anchors.
Three double-rope raps lead to the ground. The raps are not the cleanest ones (corners and chimneys) but the anchors are bomber (two new bolts each). Great climb.
Back at the base, we took our time again and took a look around at the other routes. We'll be back. On the way down, we took several photographs in the beautiful light of the setting sun and ended up loosing the trail… the worst buswhack ensued: boulders, shrubs, cacti, and agave everywhere. Not fun. We eventually reached the main trail with a few sharp needles in our skin. Night fell as we were going down the trail so we broke out the headlamps. Man it's a long way back!
The weather turned for the worse the next day. After hanging out for a couple of days in town and seing no improvement in the weather, we decided to go check out some desert spires around Sedona. We climbed The Mace, a great desert tower.
A couple of days later, we went to King Dome, a remote granite dome in the Bradshaw mountains which is supposed to have very good slab climbing. And remote it is! Miles of dirt road finally dropped us into the old mining town of Crown King. From there, a very rough 4WD 2-track leads to a point just behind the top of the dome. A 25 minute hike leads to the base of the wall. Not a soul around, and very few signs of recent traffic (we even had to pull fallen trees off the 4WD road on the way up). Lots of thick bushes make moving around the base difficult, but a rock traverse at mid height and a well-placed rap anchor reduce the trauma. We climbed a few lines: 5.9 to 5.10a, which all felt really hard!
On November 15, we left Prescott for Cochise, hoping for more sunny skies in Southern Arizona.
Granite Mountain & King's Dome, AZ
|On our way to Prescott.|
|Refueling at a truck stop along the way.|
|Camping at granite Mountain|
|Hiking up toward the cliff.|
|Eric leading the second pitch of Reunion.|
|On pitch 3.|
|Views from the belay atop pitch 4.|
|Lucie on the traverse of pitch 4.|
|Eric on the last pitch of Reunion.|
|Views from the summit.|
|Back at the base.|
|Climbers on another Granite Mountain classic: Coatimundi Corner (5.9, 5 p).|
|Hiking back down just before sunset.|
|Enjoying a gorgeous sunset.|
|One of the not-so-friendly locals...|
|Heading back toward Crown King, the small mining town near King's Dome.|
|The Crown King saloon.|