Dry Canyon, a.k.a. 'The Dry', is an increasingly popular destination for those seeking moderate to very difficult sport climbing. Located in the Whetstone Mountains north of Sierra Vista, this remote limestone crag is an ideal cool weather playground, being mostly sunny until later in the afternoon. Established routes range from 5.9 to 5.13d, with the overwhelming majority in the 5.11-.12 range.
Bring a 60m rope and quickdraws. The rock is generally steep and of good quality, though bloodily abrasive in some areas. There are certainly enough routes to keep you busy for a winter, and it is likely that The Dry will see further development in coming years.
The Whetstone Mountains are one of several small mountain ranges in Southeastern Arizona hosting an abundance of limestone rock. While there are most certainly more crags like this one, the remote nature of these ranges (among other factors) has limited their development. This crag was discovered by two U of A students in the 1995 but most of the routes have been since 1999.
There are currently no access issues at this crag. Please help to keep it that way. The Dry is on BLM land, so camp freely, but PLEASE observe low impact principles to avoid future access issues!!! Also, please do not block the road with your vehicle. Lastly, remember that all of Southeastern Arizona is a virtual highway for Mexican migrants. Use your head.
For rest day fun, visit nearby Kartchner Caverns State Park, just to the north.
For a topo of The Dry Canyon, go to www.arizonaclimbing.com. For more information on the area, check out Todd Gangelhoff's mini-guide in Rock & Ice #113 (January 2002).
Drive east on Interstate 10 from Tucson for about 40 miles. Exit at Arizona Hwy. 90, heading south towards Sierra Vista. Drive south for about 12.5 miles and carefully make a right onto an unmarked dirt road.
A 4WD vehicle is strongly recommended for the remainder of the drive. If you do not have at least a high clearance vehicle, consider going home! The road is very rough and steep in places.
From Hwy 90, proceed down dirt road to a T-intersection. Turn right. Take the first left (hopefully marked #4014) and continue to the end of the road, staying right through two intersections.
Park at the road's end, where it dwindles down to a trail. Follow this trail down and across the ravine, out past a water tank and continue on toward the far end of the crag. Approach the crag uphill on established switchbacks. It is 15 minutes from the car to the crag.
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for The Dry Canyon:
It appears bees have taken up residence and built a hive in the giant jug in the roof of the Bee Cave (on the project Scully bolted with the chain draws). You can see the honeycomb from the ground (it looks like golden glue). I tried climbing Stranglehoff, fell at the 2nd crux, and realized the bees were flying around me in increasing numbers. I lowered immediately, no one got stung, but just a word to the wise. Make sure you are prepared if climbing in the bee cave!
I was originally told that only high clearance was necessary for access to the dry. BE WARNED there is a significantly steep and rutted hill about 2 miles from the end of the road. 4WD is necessary for this hill. However, it is possible to get up to here with only high clearance and the approach to the crag is ~40 minutes and still worth it.
Serious Bee and Wasp issues. A warning to those who are allergic. Due to the seeps at certain spots along the limestone crag The Dry is a hotbed for beehives and wasp nests. This is as of Oct. 2005. I was stung yesterday. A lot of the activity is concentrated at the cave formations (spine cave, bee cave, and celebrity cave).
Excellent area! Many thanks to the generous souls who donated chain draws. Also, there are a ton of climbs that aren't on the topos. Anybody happen to have a recent topo laying around they'd care to upload? I'd be happy to scan it and make a pdf for you.
jbak, you're 'spot on', which is exactly why I'm wondering...why did somebody spend time, energy, $, etc. to bolt those short routes? I did a few and they're really not worth it. Then again, that may be why nobody is taking credit for them, or maybe I'm just an angle-snob. :)
Hey Korny-man, how ya doin ? There's been quite a bit of visitation at the Dry this season...even some non-locals. I've been out there several times. My opinion: the top 15% of routes are really good, the bottom 85%...just okay. I think Spinal Twist is one of the best in S. AZ. Bees haven't been bad, no big nests or anything. Season may be about over now that we've hit the 80's.
So...using Vince's new mini-guide to The Dry I tried to do some different stuff there. Vince's guide shows the order of climbs like this:
Morbius, Robby, Hesitation Blues, Paranoid Android (L to R)
This is based on Vince's best guess given the info he could find.
Steve Bleyl's picture/topo (posted here) agrees that Morbius is the climb LEFT of Robby. But..."snaffel" posted Hesitation and Android here and implies that they are BETWEEN Morbius and Robby. But there's no room there, so Vince (and I) think they must be the fairly recent routes to the RIGHT of Robby.
Snaffel rates Hesitation Blues 12a and Paranoid Android 11a. If those ratings are correct, AND the routes are RIGHT of Robby, then this looks like the ordering to me:
I did Robby and both routes to the right of Robby. Robby is probably correct at 11a. The route just right of that felt like 11b to me so if Snaffel says Android is 11a, that's close enough. The route further right felt like 11c/d so maybe that was Hesitation (12a ?).
So in the interest of getting Vince's guide straight, can any of you guys offer some beta on this ?
Robby is decent but crux is hard to read. Next route right (Android ?) is decent. A bit of a one-move wonder but pleasant. Next right (hesitation ?) is complicated and pretty good. Don't think it's 12a but would like to hear other opinions.