Arch Enemy (also a name of one of my favorite routes at Red Rock) climbs up the right side of what might be the largest arch in all of Sedona. The free air rappel over this arch rivals most any and is reminiscent (but much longer) of the popular arch rappel on Living on the Edge in Snow Canyon State Park (UT). Arch Enemy was established by Burcham and Powell in 2002. It is a south facing route on the Merry Go Round which is just east of the Flying Buttress, making it an ideal objective in the winter. We combined it with the popular Technicolor corner route on the Flying Buttress for a full day of climbing.
The first pitch runs up a chossy corner below and to the right of the huge arch. Despite being a bit chossy, it is still a decent pitch. The start is fingers and then the corner offers a few moves at the grade before easier climbing up a hand crack and a short chimney section past a hollowed out cave with windows that brings you to an easy bulge to pull to a fixed belay. The second pitch involves outstanding exposure in the 5.11- range and makes a bolted traverse left to the edge of the arch. The third pitch is short up a fun hand-fist crack (5.10) that pulls a roof and traverses left to actually put you over the arch. The fourth pitch is the well bolted crux pitch that leads to a bomb bay squeeze chimney. The remaining two pitches are traverse pitches only done to reach the summit. Most rap from the top of the fourth pitch. The raps are fixed for double ropes.
Approach from Cowpies trail head via Schnebly Road. Arch Enemy is just right of the huge arch visible from the parking area. Follow the slick rock trail up to the formation and traverse left for about 15 minutes until you are directly under the huge arch. Head up the right side to stay more on the slick rock, which has a small bit of 4th class to avoid the brush. We suited up under the arch before walking the ledge back right to the base of the corner to the right of the arch, where there is a single bolt belay.
Route DescriptionArch Enemy, 6 Pitches, 5.11c
1st Pitch- 90’- 5.9/ The start off the deck is fingers with an assisted layback move or two at the grade before easier climbing up a hand crack and a short chimney section past a hollowed out cave with windows that brings you to an easy bulge to pull to a fixed belay.
2nd Pitch- 90’- 5.11-/This pitch offers outstanding exposure as you traverse out left and follow the bolts as they aim for a ramp. The climbing is at a lesser grade straight up the ramp to a decent stance and fixed belay below a roof. The crux move of this pitch is past the first bolt and involves mostly slab skills.
3rd Pitch- 50’-5.10/ Take the roof with some wide gear. A bit of jamming leads to a layback move which leads to a mantle. Do not continue up the feature above, rather traverse left to a hidden fixed belay via easy ground.
4th Pitch- 100’- 5.11c/ Follow the bolts as they trend left, then right, to a bombay squeeze chimney. The crux is just below the chimney section.
5th-6th Pitches-5.10/ Large traverse pitches used to reach the summit. Most will rap the route at the top of the 4th pitch.