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The Praying Monk(5.6)

Camelback Mountain - Phoenix, Arizona

March 25, 2012

Kim and I took the opportunity to do some rock climbing while we were in Scottsdale and made the short drive to Camelback Mountain to climb the Praying Monk.

I had climbed this last year with some folks I had just happened to meet so I was excited to share this fun climb with Kim. Camelback Mountain is just north of Scottsdale in the middle of a huge city, so as you can imagine, it is a very popular place. Earlier in the week while Kim was in her conference I hiked up and over Camelback Mtn and made a long loop back to the parking lot. I had to walk the road for a couple miles, but it was great to be out stretching my legs.

Kim and I were fortunate to find a parking spot fairly quickly. People basically drive slowly through the parking area hoping that someone else will be leaving at the same time to get their space. It's kind of a crazy system, but it works!

We met about fifty people hiking on the trail as we made our way up to the steep climbers trail that leaves the main trail and heads up to the cliffs. Another party was climbing a 5.7 route nearby and as I climbed up the easy rappel gully, which is 4th class, Kim overheard one of the other climbers say, "Whoa! Check out this guy climbing 5.4 in his tennis shoes!" I had to laugh a little when Kim told me this later since my "tennis shoes" were my LA Sportive Ganda's that I picked up in Jackson last summer and capable of climbing routes much more difficult than I can climb in my rock shoes. It definitely boosted my ego hearing that, but alas, I'm just a medium fish in a very little pond.

At the top of the pitch we met a local climbing club that was rappelling down. They had just completed a route that allowed them to graduate from their course. We congratulated them, knowing what that was like!

We untied from the rope and hiked up the 100 yards or so to the base of the tower which is called the "Praying Monk" because of its shape from certain perspectives. Part of me wanted to climb up the easy 5.6 route in my Gandas but the bolts are sparingly spaced, so I opted for my confidence inspiring Mythos. (Ok, maybe I'm a small-medium fish!)

I had climbed this pitch previously on top rope, so this time was quite a bit different on the sharp end. Slowly I made my way up the face, spotting the next bolt and working my way up to it. This great route offers a lot of bang for the buck with nice exposure, a small summit, and great views of the city.

Kim cruised up the pitch so fast that I had to ask her to slow down so I could take in the slack. (Fine, I'm a small fish!) We took some pictures of the city then threaded the rappel rings and rapped off the back side. Kim had her old ATC and we were climbing with my skinny 8.9mm Serenity rope, so she used both hands to break while rappelling slow and easy!

Once safely down off the Monk, we hiked back over to the rappel gully and made one more rappel. It was a hot day and we were glad to have the drinking fountain at the trailhead. We loaded up the car, said goodbye to Scottsdale and continued our vacation in Tuscon!