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Climbing Bell Rock in Sedona

January 6, 2012

I got some cams for Christmas, and combined with a few cams I had already, made a wee trad rack. The plan was to go climbing on Boxing Day (26 December), and use the trad rack. We chose Bell Rock in Sedona, because it is one of the easiest rocks in Sedona to climb. We set off from my house at 8, and got to the Bell Rock Parking Lot at 10. The parking lot was packed with Indian tourists and a lot of Chinese too. Thomas and I began getting all of the gear ready, and people would conspicuously walk by us, and then quickly turn to a camera and smile as another guy took a picture of his buddy and us. A lady came up to us asking how to get closer to the vortex, to which we responded that the rock was the vortex. She said thanks and “may the energy be with you.” I said “and also with you.” A bit odd.

We hiked up the trail with all of our gear to the chute, where we began scrambling. We didn’t use ropes, and we noticed some other people scrambling on the rocks. The only difference: they didn’t have a clue what they were doing. We continued up, and I decided to get Thomas roped up so that he could place a bit of pro before leading 5.8 trad. I followed and a couple dudes scrambled past me. There is a ledge, and we went around the corner to the left, where the climb started. The pitch looked pretty short, but also pretty short on handholds.

View from the trail.

View from the trail.

A little ice in the morning.

View from the chute.

Ledge in the chute.

The chute.

As I was getting the ropes untangled, one of the guys who passed me came around the corner to ask a question. “Hey man, what’s the best way to get down?” I replied “On a rope…Did you not think about this when you came up here?” The guy was pretty angry, and I said “I think it’s best to go back the way you came. At least you know what you’re in for.”

View from first belay.

View from first belay.

View from first belay.

View from first belay.

Thomas at first belay.

Score! #2 Camalot with a couple biners and slings.

View down from belay.

Thomas led the first pitch, which was just to change the belay to a better place. We picked up the camalot (but we lost a biner later), and he then led the crux pitch. Thomas may climb a few 5.11’s in the gym, but this 5.8 trad lead was really tough. Props to Thomas for getting this one done. I had troubles following, and there was a ton of rope drag and Thomas had a tough time belaying. I had myself on backup belay with an ascender. That’s why I like double ropes!  I got half way up, and I was tired and sore, and a bit scared, and the sun was going down and we didn’t have lights, so we rapped off. We got off the tough stuff right as the sun went down.

Then, we knew that we were in a bit of a bind. The sun was completely down, and we had to set a rappel, rappel in the dark, and downclimb the Class IV stuff in the dark too. I kept myself from getting worried by reminding myself that we could stop at one of the ledges and be just fine if it got too hairy. We took pictures of sections that we were downclimbing to get some idea of what we were doing.


Thomas figuring out his belay device in the dark.

We got to the bottom of the rappel, and Thomas scouted out the tree anchor for the next rappel. My job was to pull the ropes, which were on a tree anchor. Our next problem to deal with: the ropes didn’t pull through. We decided to downclimb the rest free, and come back for the ropes the next day.

The next tree anchor.

The downclimb from the tree anchor.



Me at a tree.

A tree

Me downclimbing.

Me downclimbing.

Thomas downclimbing.

Thomas downclimbing.

Thomas waiting for me to descend the next bit.

A wee drop.

Me sliding down the chute.

At the bottom of the chute! Finally!

Ah, whatever...just jump it. And we did.

Me getting untangled from some bushes after the jump.

Putting the sticker on a sign. It usually makes a better picture if you can see where the camera is...

Getting close...

We got out of there, and in the parking lot Thomas realized he lost his wallet, and my ropes were still up there. The backside of his pants were in shreds, so we headed up the next day, after getting home at 10:30.  Stay tuned for Part 2.


Click here for part two.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 10, 2012 00:07

    Sedona is amazing! And desert towers are some of the most fun climbing in the world.

    • January 10, 2012 21:27

      Sedona is amazing, but the rock is not the best… still, desert towers are pretty cool. Though that’s Thomas’ deal really, my goal is more alpine type stuff.


  1. Return to Sedona: Hope & Rope « adventure traveling

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