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Oak Creek Canyon

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Doctor's Office & The Pharmacy, The 
Fire Wall 
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Pumphouse Wash 
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Sterling Pass 
Waterfall, The 

Oak Creek Canyon 


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Location: 34.9524, -111.7543 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 405,948
Administrators: Greg Opland, James DeRoussel, JJ Schlick, Hendrixson, Kristine Hoffman
Submitted By: JJ Schlick on May 27, 2008
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Sterling Pass from the air!

Description 

Oak Creek Canyon is a Grand Daddy of Mogollon Rim drainages! This expansive canyon takes root in Flagstaff, but really starts just south of town in beautiful Pumphouse Wash. Oak Creek Canyon runs all the way down until it opens up at the entry of Munds Canyon from the east rim, and empties into Sedona... This canyon holds a myriad of side canyons, sub drainages, and a staggering amount of stone, climbing, exploration, and adventure to be had right off the heals of HWY 89.

There really is something for everyone in this canyon, starting out with the treasure of moderate traditional climbs to be found at the The Overlook. If you are learning to place gear, and get some leads under your belt, this is a fantastic area to create a foundation. Also a wonderful place to rip through them and enjoy the view for a day. Moderates hold the majority. I have moved this area to the Flagstaff Crags Section due to it's proximity to town. Though this area clearly marks the entrance from the north, into Oak Creek Canyon.

Youngharz on the exposed moves out to the arete on Angels Delight.
Youngharz on the exposed moves out to the arete on Angels Delight.


If you are looking for sport routes, then you have the options of exploring Pumphouse Wash, and the Doctor's Office... Though the sandstone is soft, there are some excellent routes to discover, and some out of the way CLASSIC lines to track down... Pumphouse Wash is also the stunning showcase of the "Ultimates"... These lines are an almost fabled collection of cherished, traditional routes that will test the best, up to 5.11+ fingers, and some burly offwidth if you are so inclined... There is a lot to see down there, and some excellent "hot summer" swimming holes as well...
Megan at the crux of Short Asst
Megan at the crux of Short Asst


The Waterfall Area boasts 100 or so routes now, trad and mixed, with the majority of them going down in the 5.10+ through 5.13 range... Indeed! You can expect splitter cracks, steep jug hauls, and very thin technical lines! The climbing really starts at solid 5.10 trad, and only gets exponentially better from there! Bring a 70M rope, a robust rack including a triple set of TCUs, and your game! Not a place for the faint of heart.
Josh Janes on the Terminator 5.12
Josh Janes on the Terminator 5.12


And, on top of all that, if you want to get in a superb sandstone bouldering session, The Anvil Boulders are a collection of wonderful and rare blocks all conveniently (or maybe not so because of the creek crossing?) located 200 yards on the East side of Oak Creek just a hop and skip drive north out of Sedona. V-easy to V-super-hard- inspiring! Some very cool steep lines! Find this area in the Northern AZ Bouldering section.
Shot taken by Ian Kiersey.
Shot taken by Ian Kiersey.


Oak Creek Canyon is a treasure to many, and a focal point to climbers in this area for harboring a wide variety of crags, which can be intimidating, but also accessible year round, if you play your cards right. It is an awesome place to visit, and climb in, and an arduous place to explore off the beaten path! Watch out for tourists, rattle snakes, rock fall, hard approaches- and mellow ones, slow drivers (with their cameras stuck outside the window), soft sandstone, hard sandstone, and impeccable stone as well...!

There is obviously much more to be found in this expansive canyon than is listed here.... Be ready to "earn your burns", and engage with an environment that always seems to be coming after you! Yah, you personally...

An intriguing landscape!


Getting There 

Take 89 south from Flagstaff, or north from Sedona.


192 Total Routes


['4 Stars',37],['3 Stars',108],['2 Stars',36],['1 Star',9],['Bomb',0]
['<=5.6',2],['5.7',1],['5.8',4],['5.9',9],['5.10',44],['5.11',73],['5.12',48],['5.13',10],['>=5.14',0],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',0],['V4-5',0],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Oak Creek Canyon:
The Sword   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   The Waterfall : The Left Wall
Black and Tan   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 100'   The Waterfall : The Main Amphitheater
Spite and Malice   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 115'   The Waterfall : The Left Wall
Engagement   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Trad, 6 pitches, 500'   Miscellaneous Routes
Lord Humongous   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c     Trad, 1 pitch, 100'   The Waterfall : The Main Amphitheater
Natural Enhancement   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c PG13     Trad, 1 pitch, 130'   The Waterfall : The Right Wall
Vertebrae   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   The Waterfall : The Left Wall
False Prophet   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c     Trad, 1 pitch, 90'   The Waterfall : The Main Amphitheater
Ultimate Finger Crack   5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a     Trad, 1 pitch, 165'   Pumphouse Wash : The Ultimates/Mexican Pocke...
Heart and Soul   5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a     Sport, 2 pitches, 200'   Sterling Pass
Double Helix   5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a     Trad, 1 pitch, 115'   The Waterfall : The Double Clutching Wall
Resurrection   5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a     Trad, 1 pitch, 115'   The Waterfall : The Right Wall
Into The Wild   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Trad, 9 pitches, 900'   Miscellaneous Routes
American Caesar   5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Trad, 1 pitch, 100'   The Waterfall : The Right Wall
Super Chronic   5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Trad, 1 pitch, 115'   The Waterfall : The Double Clutching Wall
Terminator   5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b     Trad, 1 pitch, 100'   The Waterfall : The Left Wall
Logic Bomb   5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b     Trad, Sport, 110'   The Waterfall : The Main Amphitheater
Pyrrhic Victory   5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b     Trad, Sport, 1 pitch, 105'   The Waterfall : The Left Wall
Inz and Outz   5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   The Waterfall : The Left Wall
There Will Be Blood   5.12+ 7c 28 IX 27 E6 6b     Trad, 1 pitch, 100'   The Waterfall : The Main Amphitheater
Browse More Classics in Oak Creek Canyon

Featured Route For Oak Creek Canyon
St. Christophers Tower, Heart and Soul.

Heart and Soul 5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a  AZ : Northern Arizona : ... : Sterling Pass
Heart and Soul ascends the prominent blunt aręte on the east face of St. Christopher’s tower. This aesthetic spire was originally done via the north face A2 route, “The Well of Souls” in January of 1996 by Raimonde, Stih, Clark. Heart and Soul is one of the finest sport spires anywhere and a true Burcham/Tatum masterpiece! The arrangement of fantastic climbing and a surreal location is sure to put this spire near the top of the list of classic Northern Arizona routes. While the climbing is thoug...[more]   Browse More Classics in AZ

Photos of Oak Creek Canyon Slideshow Add Photo
A general overview of the layout of the Oak Creek Canyon Crags.
A general overview of the layout of the Oak Creek ...
Oak Creek Canyon, AZ.  March 09.
Oak Creek Canyon, AZ. March 09.
West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon. <br />route shown "Grapes of Wrath". identified by the striking wide splitter of pitch 2.
BETA PHOTO: West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon.
route shown "Grapes...
Comments on Oak Creek Canyon Add Comment
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By JJ Schlick
Administrator
From: Flagstaff, AZ
May 25, 2014
CONDITION REPORT 

On May 20th, the Slide Fire was started near Slide Rock State Park in Oak Creek Canyon. The fire moved quickly north up Oak Creek Canyon ravaging the western slopes and walls. To date the fire is still burning, and the burn area is already around 11,000 acres.

It is unclear what areas were directly affected by fire at this time, but the Doctor's Office, and some West Fork routes such as Into The Wild may have seen direct contact. It's safe to say, however, that with the inevitable floods and mudslides that will be a result of this fire, access to the western slope crags will be limited for some time.

Thankfully areas such as The Waterfall, The Overlook, and the upper portions of Pumphouse Wash are believed to be outside the burn area, and should be fine once the fire is contained, and hwy 89a is opened up again.

It's been a nerve wrecking week for Flagstaff, and I want to thank all the hotshots and coordinators who are out there, still trying to tame this beast.

By Dean Hoffman
Jul 8, 2014
CONDITION REPORT 

While y'all likely know that access in Oak Creek Canyon has been shut down for the immediate future as far as I know Sterling Pass will be climb able when they reopen the road.... There has been some confusion regarding reports of burns in Sterling Canyon, as far as I can tell Sterling Canyon and Sterling Pass are not the same.... If anyone has clarification on that it would be appreciated!

By JJ Schlick
Administrator
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Jul 8, 2014

Hey Dean, Sterling Canyon runs into Oak Creek right at the switchbacks, just above the hatchery. It was a densely chocked canyon, more of a steep ravine really. Hiked it down from the rim once, and only once. I know why they had a hell of time fighting the fire in this area....