If you don’t have much time but are looking for some fantastic one-day climbing, look no further than Oak Creek Canyon whose south western side is formed by Wilson Mountain, a huge mountain north of Sedona in red rock country.
Wilson Mountain can be climbed any time of the year, but there may be snow on top in the winter. If there is, in-step crampons are recommended but not required. It is extremely hot in the summer, so spring and fall are the best months to climb it.
Mention tourist attractions in Arizona and the answer will be ‘The Grand Canyon’. Well, you might not have heard of Oak Creek Canyon, but it is the state’s second biggest attraction and is a place of great beauty – and it has wonderful climbing. Hiking too, but it’s the climbing we are here to talk about.
The canyon has an 80 – 100 ft basalt cliff along the top which has formed into beautiful dihedrals, aretes, and cracks off all sizes. The basalt is easy on the hands, and grippy for the feet. This place is a gem, but a popular one!
Oak Creek Canyon is the 4th deepest canyon in Arizona and is famous for the massive, yet moderate Solar Slab, 5.6, as well as the monstrous Eagle Wall further in. If you love huge climbs then Oak Creek is the place for you.
Other classics are, with corresponding numbers to those on the map (1) Black Orpheus 5.9+; (2) Beulah’s Book 5.9; (3) Johnny Vegas 5.7; (4) Going Nuts 5.6; (5) Solar Slab 5.6; (6) Levitation 29 – 5.11c; (7) Eagle Dance 5.10c, A0.
Levitation 29 is a famous Red Rocks classic following a long and obvious crack system that is steep and intimidating. You’ll get killer exposure, excellent rock and fantastic views especially if you go to the top!
Then there’s Duck Soup which is a 5.6 double crack system and nearby Burnt Buns – a 5.8 dihedral and face climb.
For the most part, almost every climb of note in Oak Creek is south facing, making this canyon a cool weather destination…
One word of caution: if you are thinking of climbing Eagle Wall – the peregrine falcons have been known to roost on Eagle Dance and if they are there when you wish to climb it is worth noting that the route will be closed. Please save yourself some time, and the birds some stress, by checking with the Area Manager before setting off.
Bivy permits are available for Eagle Wall.
Here’s a quick look at Duck Soup with thanks to frantikclimber.