With the clients out of town taking care of some business I’m taking advantage of the time off and my green mazda minivan/hatchback hermaphro-car. So I took off south past Hoover Dam down to Scottsdale, the home of a Mr. Brian Wysel. The plan was to check out the new house he just purchased and then head off to Flagstaff for a weekend of adventure with a little bit of debauchery thrown in for good measure.
I was psyched to check out Jack's Canyon near Winslow AZ. Driving east down out of Flagstaff we couldn't help but notice the dark clouds moving in over our destination. Had I not driven over five hours to Scottsdale followed by another two plus hours back up to flagstaff I may have considered bagging out and heading somewhere more predictable, but until a tornado touched down Jack's Canyon would continue to be my destination. Besides, it's not often that I get to climb with my original climbing buddy.
Passing through Winslow (btw: this has to be the most run down awful excuse for a town I have ever been through. It's like the anti suburbia) small drops of rain started to fall on the windshield. "It's nothing. It'll pass." And it did. By the time we reached the dirt road off the main highway to the canyon the rain had stopped and the clouds seemed to be clearing, at least my attempt at optimism was seeing things this way. We arrived to a full campground and more than a few mud covered vehicles in the parking lot. Hmmm. After asking around a bit, our suspicions about the soft nature of the dirt we had just driven over were confirmed. When it rains at Jack's it often times dumps, and when it does the road gets muddy enough to stop a 2 wheel drive vehicle in its tracks. Perfect.
At first glance the rock at Jack's is a bit disappointing. Many of the walls are short and the limestone looks chossy, but once I tied in and got a bit more intimate with the stone I found that the rock is actually quite good and littered with cool features. After a few warmups we all were getting psyched to get on some harder stuff. The main wall is littered with what look to be high quality 12's and 13's and some of them looked VERY flashable. However nature had different plans for us that day. The rain returned with a vengeance. It came on fast enough and hard enough for us to realize that an early escape was in order. So we hiked out of the canyon and drove back to Flagstaff, the whole time getting pounded by rain. I guess we made the right decision.
On Sunday we decided to to embrace getting wet and headed down through Sedona in search of swimming holes. Sedona was yet another spot I had yet to check out and I was blown away by the beauty of the canyons. After some failed attempts we eventually made our way to Grasshopper Point. This place was sort of like a cleaner Red Rocks (the Santa Ynez one). It being Sunday there were more than a few loud beer drinking young folks as well as extended family gatherings, not really our cup of tea. However did find another swimming hole nearby with far less crowds and an equally scenic environment. We capped the day with a nice hike up the canyon and along the way stumbled across some borderline futuristic looking boulder problems that were covered in chalk. Seeing a dozen problems like this on good rock in a place that I've never heard of reminds me how many strong boulderers are out there these days.
We returned to Scottsdale that evening and the following day I set off north. My destination: Salt Lake City.