One of Arizona's premiere trad climbing areas, Granite Mountain features beautiful white fine-grained granite and many wonderful routes in a high desert wilderness area. You're not likely to see too many other climbers here either, but you will see plenty of awesome cracks and beautiful natural lines.
Granite Mountain resides just northwest of the city of Prescott. Head out of town on Iron Springs Road to the Granite Basin Rec. Area turnoff (right turn), follow this approx. four miles to either the Playa or Metate Day Use Area parking lots.
Take Trail 260 up to a trail junction at a wooden gate (about a mile or so). Head right (stay on 260) and continue up the main trail through a few mellow switchbacks. As you get closer to the area below the Swamp Slabs, you will run into a couple of big switchbacks as the trail starts to climb more. The first usually has rocks stacked in front or near it (to keep people from going that way), but people keep moving those and heading off into oblivion (manzanita, boulders, cactus, no trail). After that first switchback, continue up to the next one and look for a big patch of prickly pear down and right of the turn in the trail. The climber's trail up to the wall heads off here. The trail weaves around a lot and sometimes goes up and over stacks of boulders, so keep your eyes open and you should see it. Things have been deteriorating over the last years as climbers simply bore new trails instead of working to spot the fairly established route.
There's a great map of this in Bill Cramer's 2000 one-sheet guide to Granite Mountain that would be a helluva lot easier to follow than any text description. Go buy one!
There are probably many ways to get back down from the top of the cliff, but the main options are as follows:
Swamp Slabs: Scramble across the top of the cliff line, past the obvious large alligator juniper atop the Debut area, then continue along the top for a big until you see a large boulder perched on the slabs down and left. Downclimb and friction scramble down and across in front (below) this boulder and down to ground in the bushes below, then follow a fairly worn path that takes you through bushes, trees and boulders (some downclimbing) back down to Pine Tree Ledge.
The Bowl: This is roughly the area between Magician to around Green Savior or so. See Swamp Slabs descent.
Middle Section: From around Green Savior to the Flying Buttress. If you started from Pine Tree Ledge area for some reason, see Swamp Slabs descent. If your stuff is over on the Front Porch, scramble across the top of the cliffline over to where you can scramble down to the start of the Coke Bottle Rappel route (above the Flying Buttress). Watch the first rappel as it is longer than half of most 60m ropes (~108 feet or so).
I've been told you can rappel from the station below the Great Roof down Candyland with a single 60m rope. I have not verified that. There are also stations for the first two pitches of Coatimundi Whiteout that can be rappelled. Not sure about one rope or two on those and have not heard from anyone who's done it.
Flying Buttress: If you top out via Beaver Cleaver or High Exposure Exit, do the Coke Bottle Rappels (see below). If you decide to call it a day from the top of the Flying Buttress, you can scramble around the right side via ledges for routes that end below (Nose, Cat's PJ's, Said and Done, etc.). For routes that you end somewhere on the top edge of the FB, you can scramble down to a hole over below the outside end, but it's a little dicey getting to the ledge below that leads to the second Coke Bottle Rappel. The last guy I saw do it placed a piece to help protect the last move down to the ledge.
Coke Bottle Rappel Route: As mentioned, this rappel setup starts above High Exposure Exit and Beaver Cleaver from anchors on a "single" boulder overlooking the Flying Buttress. Watch the first rappel as it is longer than half of most 60m ropes (~108 feet or so). It is up to you to negotiate this possible shortage safely and is an exercise I leave to you to figure out for yourself.
Rap 1: Approximately 108 feet from the top of the cliff to a ledge down off the side of the top of the Flying Buttress.
Rap 2: Rappel approximately 85 feet down the Coke Bottle Route to another ledge off the side of the Little Brother Buttress. There is an anchor on rappeller's right behind a large pine tree.
Rap 3: Rappel approximately 95 feet to the bottom of the wall. You can also rappel about 65 feet down to a large ledge atop the first Coke Bottle Pitch and then rappel again from there to the ground (~30 feet) if you're worried that your rope is short. Either way, watch the ends of your rope.
Right Side: This would be from roughly Falling Ross over to Easy Chair. For routes ending over to around the top of Granite Jungle, you can easily scramble over to the Coke Bottle rappels. There are also some new raps that have been set up with anchors atop The Face, according to Bill Cramer's excellent one-sheet guide. One allows rappelling with TWO ROPES down the Soft Walk/Thin Slice/Pete's Thanks area. The other starts atop Bleak Streak and you can do three single-line raps down to the base with a 60m rope. Portions of Granite Jungle are rappellable from various slings starting at the base of the last pitch.
If you climb Jump Back Jack or Easy Chair, or you'd rather not bother with rapping, just scramble down the right side, threading through boulders and bushes, make a small rightward curl to hit the top of a gully to the right of Easy Chair and descend from there to the base of the wall.
This route climbs the easy slab just left of Coatimundi Whiteout's start. Pitch 1: 5.9 R/X - Start on the easy slab below Waterstreak delight. Climb up about 15 feet left of Waterstreak and start running it out clipping 3 bolts as you head to Kingpin's second pitch belay. This pitch is about 180 feet. You can add a pitch and belay about 50 feet up, but I HIGHLY recommend against this option.Pitch 2: 5.7 R - Climb the face just right of Kingpin's 3rd pitch towards the large flake crack shared...[more]Browse More Classics in AZ
There isn't much in the way of feed back for such a great area. Years ago while on a desert climbing tour, I visited this area and camped on what was known to us as the "front porch"a large ledge that overlooked miles of desert. At the base of an overhanging cliff there was an obvious fire pit that had to have been used for centries.My question is has anyone else built a fire in this pit and what did you see illuminated on the face of that overhang! The image we saw was ere enough that we moved our camp that night! This image has haunted me for over 25 years! The climbing was great and I have always thought that I should make a return visit.
A "Left Section" could be added here to separate routes like Mongolia Thunder Pussy and Green Savior as the aren't really approached from the middle. Getting to these routes was probably easiest by going to the swamp slabs and then traversing on the pine tree ledge.
some more detailed info on the approach/raps would be awesome. there doesnt seem to actually be any trail until you're about halfway to the wall from 261. we topped out in the dark and could absolutely not find any raps (i checked every spot that i could get to and back up safely un-roped). ended up walking off which took four hours (once again if there is an actual trail info would be appreciated) we ran into two cairns which were seemingly random as they didnt point towards any clear path at all.
The one time I've been here and topped out (on candyland), I couldn't find the coke bottle raps either. Just kept walking climbers right and found a gully/the side of the cliff that appeared to have a trail going down it. Eventually lost that.. It didn't take that long to get back to the base (no longer than 45 minutes) but there was a lot of sharp plants to walk through.
The Classic route ends atop the Flying Buttress. You can scramble/downclimb from the top down to a ledge below the south side to link up with the Coke Bottle rappel route (this is tricky - be careful). The first rappel anchor is found on a large boulder above the Flying Buttress on top of the wall where Beaver Cleaver and High Exposure Exit top out. That first rappel is a long one (longer than most 60m ropes) so plan carefully.
Falcon bans are currently in place until approx. July 15th, 2013.
Went here for the first time this weekend and it was awesome. A little beta on the parking/gates locking though.
The sign at the trailhead says the gates lock at 5pm (which had been changed to 7pm when we got back!). Not knowing if our car would be locked in overnight we asked a local who was about to go on a hike who said they were strict about locking the gate and that we should be out by 5. So our day was a little shorter that originally planned, but as we were driving out around 4, we saw the campground hosts who said they only lock the entry gate!
So I guess the point is don't trust the locals and don't worry about your car getting locked in when the gate "closes."
Has anyone seen information on Peregrine falcons at Granite Mountain and Thumb Butte? I have asked the Community Trust Fund and Prescott National Forest for information concerning the data collected over the past seven years as noted in the PNF site.
I am all for sensible study and application of regulations based on the data found. I climb near birds and stay away when appropriate. Many other climbing areas institute a rational policy.
Hopefully this is a good step forward.
By MacM From: Cave Creek/Preskitt, AZ Jul 19, 2014
Just a heads up to everyone... I put up a rap station on top of the Swamp Slabs area, about 25' North of the old Juniper, on July 16th 2014. It's a simple thread-through with red sling and a carabiner. It reaches about mid-way down the slab with either at least a 60 meter rope and is a really clean pull. From there traverse out to the normal descent trail. Hopefully it stays there throughout the entire season.