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Mars Attacks 

YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI British: HVS 5a PG13

   
Type:  Trad, Sport, 4 pitches, 350', Grade II
Consensus:  YDS: 5.9- French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI British: HVS 4c [details]
FA: John Burcham, John Mattson, March 2000
Season: Fall, Winter, Spring
Page Views: 18,275
Submitted By: Dean Hoffman on Feb 1, 2006
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The limestone band of the second pitch is stunning...

Description 

Located on Dry Creek Road in west Sedona, Mars Attacks is a neo classic moderate, with a variation and uniqueness of pitches that only the desert can provide. This well traveled line seems to be getting harder over time, as key footholds on the first pitch slowly disappear into the wind. The route starts on the aforementioned slab, on the west side of the buttress, well left of the Big Corner.

Park at the Devil's Bridge TH, and walk 0.2 miles down the road to a very conspicuous and well cairned trail on the east side of the road.

Pitch One, 5.9: This devious slab pitch may be getting harder as the years pass by, but one thing is certain... it's probably going to feel harder than you want it to. Rated anywhere from 5.8 to 5.10 depending on who you talk to, pick your path carefully, and slowly past the bolts to a bolted anchor.

Pitch Two, 5.8-: Classic bolted limestone traverse. Don't forget your camera. Follow the line of bolts, moving a little up, and a little down along the limestone band to a nice belay ledge at the base of the money crack.

Pitch Three, 5.6: Great varied crack climbing over sculpted stone to a bit of an offwidth, and another bolted belay.

Pitch Four, 5.9: Some easier 5.6 terrain off the belay leads you up and over to another engaging slab encounter. Long pitch, bring runners.


RAPPELS: There are two ways of going about it. You can do three rappels with a single 70 meter, or two rappels with two ropes.

WITH TWO 60 METER ROPES:

Rap 1- 115' to three bolt anchor just right of Big Corner.

Rap 2- 170' to the ground.

WITH A 70 METER ROPE:

Rap 1- 115' EXACTLY to a three bolt anchor just right of Big Corner. Watch your ends and be careful, because the raps were not obviously not set up for a 70 meter.

Rap 2- 85' down to a pod in the Big Corner crack with 2 bolts/ 1 pin anchor.

Rap 3- 85' down the choss pitch 1 of Big Corner and the ground.


Protection 

Standard Rack up to #4 and about 10 Draws, definitely 2 ropes, 70m is doable but really a hassle.



Photos of Mars Attacks Slideshow Add Photo
MI: 2 shot--according to my non-climbing friends. =)   <br /> <br />April 2007 <br /> <br />Photo by J. Lee
MI: 2 shot--according to my non-climbing friends. ...
The obligatory pitch two shot. Ryan cruises, Tavis snaps the picture. March 2008
The obligatory pitch two shot. Ryan cruises, Tavis...
Coop bringing up the RC glider we threw from the top. What an awsome flight! Even landed it at the car.
Coop bringing up the RC glider we threw from the t...
Mars Attacks
BETA PHOTO: Mars Attacks
The juggy traverse.
The juggy traverse.
Bennett on pitch #2.
Bennett on pitch #2.
View from the start of the third pitch, just before it gets crack-tastic!
View from the start of the third pitch, just befor...
Ryan smearing through the crux of pitch one. March, 2008
Ryan smearing through the crux of pitch one. March...
Me leading pitch 1 with Marcy and Casey ahead of me getting ready to start the traverse pitch 2.
Me leading pitch 1 with Marcy and Casey ahead of m...
View of the route
View of the route
As noted: the money crack.  Serious fun!
As noted: the money crack. Serious fun!
Tiago on the Traverse Pitch, P2.
Tiago on the Traverse Pitch, P2.
The start of the 3rd pitch
BETA PHOTO: The start of the 3rd pitch
Pitch #3. Amy following and cleaning.
Pitch #3. Amy following and cleaning.
Nabbing the jug to finish the slab crux of P4. January 2013.
Nabbing the jug to finish the slab crux of P4. Jan...
dana leading and getting a bit gripped on pitch 2.
dana leading and getting a bit gripped on pitch 2.
Me going up the crack on pitch three. Fun pitch for my intro to crack climbing.
Me going up the crack on pitch three. Fun pitch fo...
As seen from the parking area (described in Weekend Rock: Arizona).
BETA PHOTO: As seen from the parking area (described in Weeken...
Another shot of Jodie on the traverse pitch 2.
Another shot of Jodie on the traverse pitch 2.
Rapping off Mars.  Big Corner 10d the crack you see to the right. <br />
BETA PHOTO: Rapping off Mars. Big Corner 10d the crack you se...
A shot of the pitch 2 traverse, Mars Attacks.
A shot of the pitch 2 traverse, Mars Attacks.
Tiago on the airy traverse.
Tiago on the airy traverse.
Looking down at Natalie coming up the first pitch.
Looking down at Natalie coming up the first pitch.
Todd finishing P2
Todd finishing P2
Jodie on the traverse pitch 2. She flew through this amazingly exposed pitch.
Jodie on the traverse pitch 2. She flew through th...
Top of final pitch.
Top of final pitch.
Following P1
Following P1
Comments on Mars Attacks Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Mar 22, 2014
By Bill Wright
Feb 8, 2006
rating: 5.9- 5c 17 VI HVS 4c

This route felt hard and exciting for 5.8. The first pitch looks easy, but there is a difficult slab move on this pitch. The next pitch, the traverse seemed to be the crux and it is a bit heady and a bit pumpy, so very, very cool. Great photo potential here. I think the route feels more like a 5.9 on the first two pitches. The 3rd pitch is a super cool, very unique and fun crack/chimney pitch.

By claramie
From: Boulder, CO
Sep 17, 2006

Mars Attacks is a great climb! From where you park your car, walk back to the road and then head north for about 350 yards to a small wash on your right. Take this wash to the path that will get you past the first little cliff to the shelf. You will approach the climb from the West.

The first pitch is harder than 5.8. I would say 10 slab easily. I heard that a key foot nub wore off from repeated use. The second pitch is a classic limestone band traverse around the prow. Third pitch is a full rope with wide gear placements. Not to worry, there are plentiful huge jugs that make this pitch a cruise. The fourth pitch is a crack to slab combination. Make sure you traverse right to the other set of anchors for your rappel!!

This rap will put you right over Big Corner, which is another great climb [10c/d corner]!!!

By Sean Thomes
From: New Windsor, NY
Oct 23, 2006

I'm not going to get into the technical aspects of this route. Its a must do if your out in Sedona. The third pitch had to be my all time favorite. It was a great chance to practice that crack climbing that I've been avoiding. I can't say enough good things about this climb.

By Seth Dyer
Dec 14, 2006

FA John Burcham AND John Mattson.

By mattso
Feb 4, 2007
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c

Mars was a great route all around. It contains a wide variety of climbing disciplines. The first slab was nerve racking to a airy traverse. The 3rd pitch was aesthetically beautiful as well as one of my favorite cracks. Bomber hand jams, to fist to chimney, stellar at the least. If you plan on rapping the route, bring two ropes. You can rap big corner with one rope no problem. The anchors for the second rap are at the very end of a 60 meter rope. They are hidden below a bulge and you will not see them until almost on top of them. A true 100 Ft. rap.

By Spahle
From: Mesa, Arizona
May 7, 2007
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c PG13

Best climb I've ever done. This route has everything. Slab, traverse, crack and off width. Thanks to Jodie and the rest of the crew for taking my girlfriend and I on this amazing climb.

By climnron
Sep 13, 2007

I have done this route several times over the last 3-4 years and it doesn't seem any harder than 5.7 or 5.8. If you aren't good at slab technique the 1st pitch will feel harder, but that is because of your skill, not because the climb is difficult. It is a great route.
Ronnie

By J. Thompson
From: denver, co
Oct 24, 2007

I rope soloed this in early Oct. I'd like to comment on the first pitch rating. After reading the varied opinions on the rating of pitch 1 I paid close attention to the difficulties and I climbed it twice(because I was soloing). I intentionally climbed 2 different "lines" at the crux section. I found one of them to be 5.9 and one to be 5.10-. The lines I took were both on par with the bolt location's and wear to the rock indicating that others had climbed there. Is there an easier path farther from the bolts? Possibly...but the "line" that is bolted is in the 5.9/5.10- range. It is very well protected however!
I've put my time in climbing hard slabs in a wide variety of local's and that's my 2 cents.

Also this is a very good route. The 2nd and 3rd pitch's are very classic!

By Aimee Rose
From: Bend, or
May 6, 2008
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a

Great route! I felt like the 3rd pitch was the crux though. Pulling through the little bulge with only the offwidth crack and no holds was quite exciting for me. Then I ran out of gear and had to run it out to the anchors from there- don't place all your big pieces before the bulge!

I felt the first pitch was about 5.9 (Sedona 5.8), no harder, but could seem harder if there was no chalk.

By Brian Boyd
Administrator
Jan 26, 2009

There are more bolts on the first and fourth pitches than on the route description: I think 5 on P1, and maybe 6 on P4. Both slab pitches are well bolted.

My partner and I had flashed 5.10 slab at Pinnacle Peak earlier in the week, a place not known for its soft ratings. We've climbed 5.9 and 5.10 sandstone slab/face as well. The slab pitches didn't seem a whole lot easier here.

Regardless of the rating, Mars Attacks is an awesome route.

By Steve Skelton
From: Lyttelton, New Zealand
Apr 11, 2009

Just did it again, for the fourth time! We were a little short on time so I ran the first and second pitch together without too much rope drag and with only one double length runner. Didn't seem to make it any more dangerous and made for one hell of a first pitch!

By John Farrell
From: Phoenix, AZ
Oct 19, 2009

Regarding the rappel; I don't think you can hit the midway anchors with one 60m rope, two ropes are required. We did a single line rappel and the center marking for our 60m rope was about 15'-ish above the anchors. A 70m will be VERY close.

The second rappel is right around 190' from those midway anchors.

Like mentioned below, the midway anchors are hard to spot until you're almost on them. You'll see the anchors for a climb, Big Corner way on the left. First time I was going down it, I was heading to those griping about how far out of plumb they were and pretty much ran right on top of the midway anchors.

Fun route! The 3rd pitch great!

By Richard Fernandez
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Nov 11, 2009
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a

I must admit, the beginning of P2 and bulge crux on P3 of Streaker Spire seemed harder than anything on this route. A fun climb but everything is there as far as features go, you just have to know how to use them.

By Craig Randleman
From: Phoenix, AZ
Nov 16, 2009
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ E1 5a

"5.8, my ass!," said my wife on pitch 1. "5.8, my ass!," I thought on pitch 4. Seriously, I've done some slab climbing and that 4th pitch through the well-protected slab section seemed quite a bit harder than 5.8. Ah well.

And I second a two rope rappel. We were on a 70m rope and it was a testy three-rappel descent. But the climbing was AWESOME!!!

By roman d
From: Pasadena, CA
Mar 17, 2010

I found the approach pretty straightforward. Even though I was off the trail, it still only took ~30min

By Marcy
From: Tempe/Tuscon, AZ
Mar 17, 2010
rating: 5.9- 5c 17 VI HVS 4c

I've always thought of the approach as straight forward and moderate; 30-45 minutes depending on your hiking speed.

By ryan dillon
From: Tucson, AZ.
Mar 17, 2010

I thought the approach was awesome. Beats the hell out of these S. AZ. approachs!!

By Ryan Myers
From: Tempe, Arizona
May 15, 2010

Amazing climb..great route and beautiful scenery
Pitch's 2&3 are by far the best...Great varied climbing throughout

By Jon Ruland
From: Tucson, AZ
May 17, 2010

pitch 3 is one of the best pitches i have ever done.

By Ted Smith
From: Scottsdale, AZ
Sep 27, 2010
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI E1 5a PG13

I believe the first pitch was once 5.8, but sandstone wears with traffic, and there are crux moves that require incredible finesse using palm and finger friction on smooth surface to keep the feet from slipping off. For that reason, I would call it 5.9+ on the first pitch. The second pitch has one bulge move that requires some hunting and a long reach to get a bomber hand hold to secure a 5.8 move. Some may not have the wingspan to make this connection, bumping the difficulty to 5.9 or so, due to lack of good solid hand holds at a crucial point. Pitch 3 has one bulge that is a bit tough, near the top, 5.8, and Pitch 4 is definitely 5.8 with thin slab moves just above the bolt--but exposure makes it exciting. I give it a PG-13 due to the potential of pendulum and getting stranded on the 2nd pitch. Ascenders and planning ahead will prevent a crisis, because it is a long way down at the midpoint of the traverse--my guess is at least 150 ft. Awesome climb!!!

By Steve Pulver
From: Tucson, AZ
Oct 18, 2010
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c

If you left the two fixed ropes on the rappel, I was the one that removed them, and left them coiled near the base. If you were planning to solo it and rap, I guess you're going to have to down climb.

By Steven Wolpert
Oct 19, 2010

Thanks Steve Pulver - those are my ropes. I was rapping in the dark and forgot that I had tied a knot in the end of both ropes so my partner didn't rap off the ends on the first rap, but I forgot to untie the one knot before I pulled the ropes - so the knot jammed at the top bolts and I had to unite the ropes and go single rope to the ground, leaving up both. I'll try to get there this Saturday

thanks again

By Jeff Strauss
From: Boulder, CO
Nov 21, 2010

Can you rappel off of the anchors after pitch 2 if needed? 1 rope or 2? Does anybody know?

By Marcy
From: Tempe/Tuscon, AZ
Nov 21, 2010
rating: 5.9- 5c 17 VI HVS 4c

Jeff, yes you can rap at the end of pitch 2. I have friends that did exactly that after the 2nd on the traverse took a nasty fall when a hold broke. I do not know if 2 ropes are needed; my guess would that they used 2 since they had them.

By Fitz
From: Carbondale, CO
Dec 14, 2010
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c

Make sure you hike the Fin trailhead located on the right side of the road(obviously) just before a three car pull-out on the left about .15mi past the Devil's bridge parking lot. Follow a small to increasingly more prominent wash up and eventually veering left following trail/carins up to the base of the wall. The Sedona guidebook shows the Devil's Bridge trail to be comparable and wrapping around to the base of Big Corner. It is/does not! First Pitch was maybe 5.8 back in the day when there were some features for your feet. Now it's a geko 5.11 smear-fest. I went left into the small seam after the third bolt at the white band of rock and climbed up to the limestone band where you can place a #1 cam and traverse right to the anchors(seemed runout 5.8). Second pitch was epically outstanding!! Third pitch was a long ~160' awesome trad pitch! Fourth pitch, couldn't do. It was getting dark. Try getting to the top of the fourth pitch to rap! Rapping from the third was a rope eating machine and turned into a mini epic. Second and third pitch were worth going back for!!

By Darren Mabe
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Mar 6, 2011
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI E1 5a

fun route. very clean and well traveled. I'll add a few notes:

Approach: i should have read these comments, to echo Clayton's post above, the trail we finally found starts approx 0.2 mi down the road from the Devils Bridge TH (~360 paces for me). This is a well cairned flip-flop trail that brings you in to the far left (west) side of the formation.

P1. ol'skool 5.9+ friction (bolts, one piece to get to anchors)
P2. exhilarating 5.7 with a couple of 5.8 step-arounds (use runners)
P3. 5.6 wild romp (130')
P4. awkward 5.6 crack to smear-ific 5.9

Rack: stoppers 9-13, hybrid aliens, C4s .5-4, (double 1-3) 10 runners/draws, 0ne camera for that pitch 2 photo that everyone else has.

Raps: we climbed with one 70m rope, and got down in THREE somewhat acrobatic raps:
Rap #1: 115' exactly to 3 bolt-anchors just right of Big Corners. Knot the ends. Pay attention to your left.
Rap #2: about 85' to 2bolts/1pin anchors in pod of P2 of Big Corner crack. Necessitates a leftward rappell/pendulum, but huecos/foot-ledge to pull you in.
Rap #3: about 85' down chossy P1 of Big Corner to Ground.

whee!

By JimmyK
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Mar 29, 2011
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c

Sunday, March 13, 2011 - Partner left my Yellow #2 Cam on pitch 3. The party of 2 behind us (one guy from MN, the other guy lives in Tucson) cleaned it. Please contact me at (928)853-2124, I will meet you in Tucson to pick up. Thanks!

By J tot
From: Tempe, AZ
Apr 18, 2011
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c

Challenging and runout slab on pitch one and a little on pitch three. Be wary if you are a 5.8 or 5.9 climber and you are attempting this.

By Sam S
From: Boulder, CO
Jul 17, 2011
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c

Gerat route! Rock quality was pretty good throughout (a bit sandy on the traverse) and the position is great.

I thought the slabs were acurate at about 5.8. They are both pretty dang low angle and are just insecure (with bolts every 4 ft).

Dropped a brand new ATC Guide from the top, still feeling that loss!

By Greg-Az
From: Prescott Az
Jul 21, 2011
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c

Has anyone climbed to the true summit past the forth pitch anchors?

By J CAV
Sep 26, 2011

Traverse is pretty fun.
3rd pitch is awesome, really cool rock, some awesome formations. This is my favorite pitch i've climbed so far.

Bring a headlamp! learned this the hard way.

By David Harding
From: Albuquerque, NM
Jan 3, 2012

Please be super careful starting off the bolted belay going into the 4th pitch. Head right a few feet for the dihedral instead of the friction straight up, which has a soon-to-come-off giant flake of loose rock (someone probably needs to pry this off when nobody is below). The growing crack indicates this will come off very soon!

By Kieran Smiley
Jan 16, 2012

At the midway rappel anchors(if you are double rope rappelling) the bolt on the right is close to becoming a spinner, still usable but maybe will be a problem in not too distant future. Maybe there is a bolt setting savvy climber out there who is planning to climb Mars Attacks soon and could fix it?? pretty please??

By Davis Stevenson
From: Flagstaff, Arizona
Nov 27, 2012
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c PG13

I didn't see what all the fuss was about on the first pitch, pretty easy slab climbing with a couple difficult moves that are well protected. I definitely felt like the 2nd pitch was the crux-- exposure is excellent, and it's definitely somewhere you wouldn't want to fall on! Pulling around the bulge adds in a ton of excitement. Pitch 3 is fun an varied, leading to an easy 4th pitch with a kind of sketchy runout to the anchors. Watch out for the anchors on rappel, too, you won't be able to see them until you're on top of them. Great intro to climbing down in Sedona, but make sure you have some multipitch experience under your belt first.

By Andy Laakmann
Site Landlord
From: Bend, OR
Apr 24, 2013
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a

You can still drive up the dirt road to the trail, you just want a high clearance vehicle - 4WD can't hurt (we had a rented standard jeep SUV). Alternately use the new trail head on Dry Creek road and walk in about a mile. The climber's trail behind about 0.2 miles down the road from the Devil's Bridge Trailhead. It is a VERY well cairned trail that skirts the approach cliffs to the left and then cuts right to the climb.

Rack: medium to big nuts, single set of small cams, doubles #0.75-#3. Just make sure to save a #2 and #3 for the crux bulge of P3. I brought #4 and didn't need it.

Raps were very straightforward. From the top anchor, move to the rap anchor (lookers right). Two double rope raps get you down. I was aiming for the anchor in the Big Corner, and then stumbled upon the actual rap anchor about 30' right of it.

There is absolutely nothing PG about this route. The first bolt is high off the ground, but super easy climbing.

By Samsonite
From: Las Vegas Nevada
Oct 5, 2013

We rapped I'm the dark last night and stranded two ropes on the second anchors (rap stations?)... if anyone is out here this weekend or soon and either unties our ropes or collects them, please send me message or comment (will provide bounty $ if you end up bringing toflagstaff or sedona areas. Thanks

Overall: 4 stellar pitches!

By SRING
Oct 25, 2013

Samsonite, we grabbed your ropes from the route on Wednesday the 23rd and brought them up to Flagstaff. They'll be waiting for you at Babbitt's Backcountry to pick up anytime. Ask somebody at the desk for them, they will be in the back. If anybody asks you about it tell them to ask Joel or Sarah about them.

By Robbie Brown
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Nov 12, 2013
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI E1 5a

Darren Wrote- "Rack: stoppers 9-13, hybrid aliens, C4s .5-4, (double 1-3) 10 runners/draws, 0ne camera for that pitch 2 photo that everyone else has."
Darren, i know the offsets are cool but give it a break man. This is sedona 5.8 your telling people to bring them on...

By JMo
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Nov 15, 2013
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a

m.youtube.com/watch?v=cyLdtG7KZvw&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3>>>

By Micah Kurtz
Jan 5, 2014

Ive only been able to climb the first two pitches so far, how does the last slab compare with the first?

By JMo
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Jan 11, 2014
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a

Dj telle no tella Da truth. Big corner p1 anchors alive and well. Look down and climber's left- they're the shiny anchors for 3rd rap. Had 80. Think 70 would suck. That block above p3 belay moved inches when I stepped on it. Don't step on it and don't put a cam in there! Keep your rope from behind it by placing first piece high, and running it long.

By MacM
From: Cave Creek/Preskitt, AZ
Feb 3, 2014

I realize there are already a TON of comments and various bits of info scattered throughout them, but here are a few things I did not get out of them that would have been helpful.

- Each belay is bolted with screw-lock chain links.
- (going from above) It is possible to rap from the top of 1st OR 2nd pitch to the ground WITH A 70 METER ROPE.
- It is possible to rap from the top of the 3rd pitch to the 2nd WITH A 70 METER ROPE.
- 3rd pitch is crazy weird/awesome eats up #2-#4 C4's. wish I had 3 #3's.

I DO NOT recommend rapping the route to get back to terra firma, but instead do take the actual rappel route. This is just-in-case information that may be useful to some.

-Mac

By Max Dismukes
From: North Quincy, MA
Feb 7, 2014
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a PG13

Great route. Every pitch is fun. I think the runout to the first bolt on pitch one warrants a PG13, its not too hard but slabby and a little tenuous. I want to second comments about the huge block right where you stand to belay at the top of P3...very wiggly, be careful.

By Suzanne Wilson 1
From: Placentia, California
Mar 22, 2014

What a great day and great route. This was our second ever route in Sedona, the first being the Regular Route on Queen Victoria. Felt the quality of rock was much better on Mars Attacks. We climbed with a 70 meter rope. Not a problem but as previous commenters pointed out, there is little rope to spare (about 6' unstretched rope) on the first rap. As for the slab on pitch 1, we climb a lot of slab in SoCal, so 5.9 seemed about right, probably 10- if you got straight up from bolt rather than stepping right, then up.