OverviewThe Praying Monk is a feature on Camelback Mountain that has become a Phoenix icon. It is a 100-odd foot tall formation that is in the shape of a monk who is praying. It has multiple routes, and great views from the summit.
Getting ThereIMPORTANT INFO: The Echo Canyon Trailhead has been closed since January 28 2013 to build a larger parking lot. It will be closed until the end of 2013. It is possible to start the hike from the Cholla Trailhead (this will add 3 miles to the approach, instead of looking for a saddle before a face on the right, look for a saddle after passing underneath a cliff with fences and handrails. The fences and handrails have now been locked. It may be possible to climb alongside the fences and handrails, or hop the fence. For most people the extra effort on approach will make it more viable to go to the McDowells, Superstition, or Queen Creek.
The Cholla Trailhead is on Invergordon, just North of its intersection with Camelback Road. This intersection can be reached by taking the Chaparral Exit on the 101, driving West to Pima Road, South on Pima Road to Camelback, and West to Invergordon. Alternatively it can be reached by driving from the Indian School Exit on the 101, driving West to Pima Road, North to Camelback, and West to Invergordon. Another option is attempting to make your way to the Monk by finding your way through the neighborhoods surrounding Echo Canyon. This is possible, but not recommended. It may also be possible to sneak by the construction site.
To reach the Praying Monk, drive to the Echo Canyon parking lot in Phoenix, South from McDonald Road, very close to the intersection of McDonald and Tatum. Parking is often a problem at the small lot here. If you cannot find parking, parking can be found in neighborhoods, and in the shopping center parking lot at 44th Street and Camelback. But, be warned that police cruise the areas around the Monk, and there are lots of no-parking areas that they'd ticket you in.
Hike up the Echo canyon trail to a saddle with a bench, and then turn to the right, along a small path. There should be a wall on your left. If you hike too far you will see fences and rails, and you will be hiking under a big wall. If so, turn back.
The routeFrom the base of the first wall, there are several routes. I prefer a bolted Class IV pitch, which is quickest and has the best rock (which is not saying much). There is also a 5.4 R rappel gully that one could climb, though it has no bolts until the top (hence the "R" rating). Just right of the rappel gully there is a 5.4 bolted route that others prefer.
(For the Class IV Pitch) It can be done with a 60 meter rope. There are belay bolts at the top of the pitch, and 5 bolts before then. Quickdraws will do, but a 60 cm runner is nice. From there, walk to the base of the monk, to the SE corner. A boulder meets the monk at the South side, and the start to the best route is at this corner. It is a 5.7. The route has 6-8 bolts depending how many you wish to bolt on the corner. A runner or two is helpful, but quickdraws will suffice.
Another option to avoid the first 5.7 moves is to walk into the cave formed by the boulder leaning on the Monk. There is a ledge, and you traverse that ledge to get onto the corner of the East Face. The two routes meet, and there is a single bolt that is used only for the 5.7 route. The first step on the 5.3 route is awkward and a fall from the corner would most likely be a 20 foot ground fall. There is a 5.10 route that ascends the Monk via the South Face, and has a roof and overhang, but the author has not climbed it.
Most of the (relatively) difficult moves are at the start. Climb up, and a rappel can be done off the South face with a 60 meter rope.
Rappel down the rappel gully, 50 feet to the right of the first pitch. 50 meter rope is enough for the rappel.
I have a couple trip reports from my blog that may be helpful as well:
CampingThis is a big city, so there is no real camping. The gates are locked to the Echo Canyon parking lot at night, but there is an AJ's parking lot nearby and lots of other places to park a car and crash. Up in Cave Creek (at Seven Springs) there are campsites. But, that is 1.5 hours away.
There are also tons of hotels.