Camelback Mountain Sport Climbing
December 30, 2006
The Falcon Rock
Climbing Guide to Arizona states that Camelback Mountain has a
reputation for rotten rock and I would have to say that this
statement is the ultimate understatement of the climbing world.
I was getting my first visit to Camelback with a chance to do
some brand new climbs. Manny Rangel was going to show me several
new routes that have been climbed only a few times. Bolted sport
climbs on the Headwall up to 200 long. We had along a brave
5.11+ leader from Spokane who volunteered to lead some new
Camelback classic climbs. These climbs will go down in history
as test pieces for climbing courage. Many routes we did were
only 5.9 but many 5.12 leaders will fail in the future due to
fear of death and lost limbs. After a full day on the Headwall I
can honestly say that the cobbles in matrix rock (not really
rock) have on average a 20% chance of breaking off by hand and
foot at any moment. The intense fear of leading is matched by
the fear of belaying under a leader. Helmets are mandatory but
body armor from Iraq is definitely highly recommended.
seconding pitch 2 of Spice Box 10b.
Looks ok from a distance.
We started on the new Rain of Terror (5.9). Actually we were
sandbagged right off the bat by Manny calling it a 5.8. Our
Spokane leader was gripped half way up and made the crux with
only two key foot holds coming loose. Maybe the climb was 5.8
but its a 9 now. I was up next and barely made it on toprope.
It has nine bolts and was 90 long. It was raining pebbles all
day. Just to the right is Sleazy Street (5.7). Again we were
told it was a 5.6 at first. This climb is rock solid by
Camelback standards. These climbs have 7.5 glue in bolts which
are as big as you can get. Sleazy Street has 8 bolts and is also
We next moved on to our main goal, which was the newest climb
Spice Box (10b). It is F rated for fear. No bolted sport climb
is more a terror than this one. It is 3 pitches and over 200
tall. Pitch 1 is actually a great little 5.2 with two bolts and
40 long. You end up on a nice ledge, which could be a killing
field. Above you is pitch 2 with the crux. Pitch 2 is 105 long
with 11 bolts. It is sustained 5.9 with a solid 10b section of
25 feet. Pro is good but dont let that fool you. After four of
us climbed Spice Box it is definitely 10d. No fewer than 30
broken holds and a hail storm of raining rock left us shell
shocked. I was lucky to belay our Spokane leader from under the
initial overhang. There was literally a hundred pounds of rock
on the ledge after his lead. I would break off much more on my
Unknown climber on
Ghastly Rubberfat 10b.
We finished up on Donamatrix (5.9) left of Spice Box. It is two
pitches of 5.9 that we combined into one pitch 200 with 16
bolts. This climb was really solid except at the crux. Ha Ha
Ha!!! A few loose key holds at a slightly overhung section will
test your boldness. Our Spokane leader again was slow and
careful at the crux.
If these test pieces of fear are not enough then there is also
Ghastly Rubberfat (10b) and the really hard Cameltoe (11c). None
of these climbs are in any guidebook yet but more information is
available at www.rockclimbing.com.
Camelback rock is somewhat simlar to El Rito sport climbing. It
is granite cobbles in a fine silt (dirt) matrix. Next time you
are in Phoenix and need a thrill then give these test pieces a