- Type of Climbing: Multi-Pitch. Traditional, and some very bold sport climbing.
- Rock: Compact Granite. Has been endorsed as "A gleaming white fortress, unlike anything else around. A piece of Yosemite.”
- Location: Prescott, Arizona – Granite Mountain Wilderness
- Approach: 45 min – 1 hour (climber trail can be difficult to find)
- Grades: 5.0 to 5.13 – most climbs are thought to be right on or stiff for the rating
- Rack: Double set to # 3 camalot, set of stoppers, some offsets, cord-o-lette, large cams for off-width routes. Mostly traditional anchors.
- Classic Climbs: Said and Done to Reunion, Candyland, The Classic, Magnolia Thunderpussy
- Guide Book: Bill Cramer – Fold out guide- In any local gear shop.
- Season: August to February – seasonal Peregrine Falcon closure from February 1 to July 15
Granite Mountain Wilderness is home to Arizona’s most classic traditional multi-pitch climbing destination. This hidden gem, just outside the City of Prescott, Arizona has routes up to 450 feet in length as well as a host of small single pitch crags. Most of the climbing can be characterized as magnificent crack climbing, but pitches are often connected by technical sections of thin edging and slab climbing. Aside from the demanding nature of some of the most classic climbs, this area also lends itself well to the aspiring rock climber. It has many excellent easier climbs suited for new climbers with forgiving cracks and large ledges. Granite Basin Recreation Area, which borders the main climbing area, is also home to an array of excellent single pitch climbing crags, including a 2-pitch granite spire called Lizard Head, and the Waves of Rock.
In the early 1970’s a band of highly skilled climbers called the Syndicato Granitica put up many of the most classic routes. Some prolific names such as Scott Baxter, Karl Karlstrom, Rusty Baillie, Lee Dexter, David Lovejoy, Tom Taber and others all pushed the standards of modern free climbing in the states at that time, without much outside knowledge of it. Today many of these routes still reflect the standard of the time, which now feels extremely sustained for the grade at the current standard of climbing in the U.S. Since that time other hard free ascents have been made at the mountain, including two 5.13’s done by Leo Hensen, and Gunsmoke a 5.12 done by Lynn Hill.
The main cliff is broken into four main sections, and each section is well defined by its type of climbing. They include; the Swamp Slabs, Middle Section, Flying Buttress, and the Right Section. When I was first learning how to climb trad routes (i.e. protected with natural features or removable gear) the “Swamp Slabs” were the perfect place. The slabs are home to many of “The Mountains” classic moderate pitches and is an excellent learning area for climbers to hone their crack climbing skills.
Many of the longest and most challenging routes are part of what is called the Middle Section. This section of rock contains a large roof called the “Great Roof” which hosts an exciting 5.7 traverse under it called Candyland, and a roof crack out its left side called Coatamunid Whiteout (5.11) . Many of the pitches on this side of the mountain have earned instant classic reputation for the quality of rock, positioning, and excellent varied nature of the crack climbing.
The right section of the mountain is home to many of the classic slab climbing test pieces in the region. Bleak streak, is an excellent climb rated 5.8+ though has mandatory 40 foot run-out off the ground, and is missing some of its most crucial holds at the crux. The seriousness of these routes lead them to be seldom climbed, though high quality granite abounds here. This side of the mountain also contains some shorter (1-2 pitch) though very obscure and quality routes. Such as a route called the Guillotine Flake, that requires the leader to enter the depths of a large flake/chimney feature and emerge out its top.