Goliath – Rock Climbing in Sedona

Trip Report:  Goliath 5.9+ route North of Sedona, Trad, 4 pitches, 200 feet, Grade III

You can find plenty of beta on getting to the route at either http://www.mountainproject.com/v/goliath/105906612 or http://www.summitpost.org/goliath-5-9/779089.  Follow their directions, the key point is to make sure and exit the main drainage before it starts getting too steep.  We were lucky enough to find a great carrion route that took us most of the way to the base of the climbing.  However, once we hit the base of Goliath we went to the right rather than the left and ended up having to retrace our steps.  If you exit the wash and then go left once you hit the base of the spire you will have a pretty easy time finding the base of the route.

There are plenty of route description that detail the climbing.  We used the beta from both of the sources listed above and didn’t have any issues with the climbing.  The first pitch was a real simple fun route that led to a great belay spot that could have easily fit all six of us.

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Jeff belayed Kelly on the second pitch which is a crazy 120’ traverse along a limestone band of the cliff.  You can see the first 10-15 feet of the traverse from the belay station and as I watched Beth turn the corner and see the next portion of the route her eyes got huge.  She let us know she wouldn’t have come if she had known what she was getting into.  I’ve never had a problem with heights, but it is rather disconcerting to be traversing a cliff band 100’s of feet in the air with just a small strand of rope and a bunch of trad gear to anchor yourself in.  I definitely had no interest in leading that portion of the route.

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When I got to the 3rd belay station Beth had just started climbing, so Scott and Kelly were huddled in the small belay area.  I ended up climbing back to the last anchor (which was a #4 bomber hold) and settled down to wait.  It was the best decision I made that day since I was stuck there for over an hour.  I even got a nice little nap in.  The 3rd pitch was easy, but very, very awkward.  I had a small pack on and it was a partial chimney climb, so I kept getting stuck.  I wish I could have seen some of the guys maneuver through it.  I could hear the swearing, but wasn’t able to see any of them climb it.  I know I sacrificed a fair bit of skin to the rock gods on that one and can just imagine how miserable it was for all of them.

The last pitch was a short 20’ climb that according to all the guide books had a strenuous 5.9+ mantle move as the crux of the climb.  That move was not a 5.9+ move unless you were at least 6’ tall.  I’m 5.1 and I literally couldn’t even reach a place to put my hands and the foot holds were non-existent since it was an under-hang.  That move felt more like 5.11 to me.  I was climbing second again, so Scott was belaying me from above and I was trailing a second rope for Aaron.  There was a bolt just barely within my reach, so after 10-20 minutes of fruitless flailing I ended up stringing my trailing rope through the quick-draw and then pulled myself up as far as I could while both Aaron and Scott pulled from below and above.  This gave me enough height to make the rest of the move on my own.  Beth ended up having to stand on Jeff’s shoulders to get over it.  I wish I had pictures, but missed all the excitement. I’m not sure who rated that move, but all of us agreed it was a bit underrated.

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We finally made it to the top just as the sun was going down.  We took exactly two pictures (which is so sad) and then booked it down.  We did the rap in three stages and made good time.  The last rap is around 150, so we used an EDK to tie two ropes together.  The rap set up is a bit sketchy to get to (again no pictures we were too rushed), but well designed for the final pull.  Our rope did snag a bit at the very end, but we were able to get it down once we went up the hill and did a few rope flicks.

By the time we were on the ground and packing up it was dark enough to need heads lamps.  Fortunately we had 5 headlamps between the six of us and there was enough moonlight to get out of their without any injuries.  The hike out definitely wasn’t fun and we spent a lot more time then needed bush-whacking to the main drainage, but overall it took us just under 1.5 hours to get back to the vehicles.  I highly recommend making sure you have GPS points for the trail head.  Hopefully you won’t exit in the dark like we did, but if so they are invaluable to us.

Overall it was an awesome day.  Goliath is a fun, simple multi-pitch trad route.  The hike in was a bit long, but not crazy difficult.  We had perfect weather and the company was amazing.  If we hadn’t gotten a bit lost trying to find the base of the climb we would have had plenty of time to complete the route with a 9:30 start time.

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