My last day in Flagstaff and I still hadn’t added a new summit to the lifetime Sedona Summit list. I wanted to hit the road in the evening, so it would have to be a short day. I was thinking about doing some easy little spire with guaranteed success, but then Jake went and mentioned Little Middle Cathedral Spire. The bastard. The seed was planted. It’s one of Sedona’s prominent obscurities. Almost big as the Mace, right in the middle of every tourist photograph taken from Red Rock Crossing. It’s the pointiest summit in this picture. And yet no one ever climbs it. Has it even seen an ascent since the first 30 years ago? The guide book didn’t have much to say about it…
I think the word “desperate” keeps the traffic down. So imagine our surprise when we see chalk on the spire! I thought everyone knew that the only climb worth doing in Sedona was Rubo’s. Maybe they thought they were on the Mace and got lost. The chalk headed up an obvious crack system that appears to go to an unclimbable death chimney. That can’t be the route! So around the corner is more chalk on a scary looking slab with 2 bolts, 1 new one with a hanger and 1 old one without. I head up that way.
I don’t clip the first bolt because there’s a good #5 cam placement and I don’t think it’s original. The second one looks original so I cinch up a nut around it to back up a kinda iffy looking #1 in a pod. There’s lots of chalk all the way up to the belay ledge, and then the chalk goes up in the wrong direction to a bail sling. Strange. I get on the ledge and see why. There’s no route here. Jake is nice enough to give me the lead again so I head up what looked like the easier way. No go. So I headed up the impossible looking way up a steep seam.
This is a pitch that has to be climbed to be believed. Spectacular and improbable. Not even that dangerous even if you have small cams (I don’t thing the first ascensionists did). Soon enough the pitch is over and Jake takes it to the summit where he finds no anchors. Quote of the day, “If I see Scott Baxter I’m going to punch him in the face.”. Here’s the summit belay (the 2 rocks under my butt cheeks are for extra friction):
We take some summit pictures still not quite sure how we’re getting down.
Then we down-lead our way off the 5.7 summit pitch and work our way over to the anchors. No one appears to have been here in a while.
Jake puts in another bolt because he’s chicken (just kidding Jake).
And we go down. The anchor is much nicer now.
We get down. WHEW, that was a fun day. But the ropes don’t pull. So I go back up. Crap, this jugging stuff sucks without ascenders.
I extend part of the anchor and come back down. Pulls like butter.
Another AWESOME day in Sedona. I pick up my wife and daughter in Flagstaff and dream about that second pitch all the way to Barstow. A good end to a good trip.