This obscure feature known as Big Country Spire would appear to be a good option to combine with the much more infamous Oak Creek Spire (aka Rabbit Ears) for a full day of climbing. However, the “half hour” approach from Oak Creek Spire that Bloom mentions in his new guidebook (2012) is not recommended due to Catclaw Acacia
, the most notorious bush of the North American deserts. We combined both routes in a day, but opted for the longer approach (at least an hour long if you know where you are going and can avoid most of the brush) by descending Oak Creek Spire to the west and hooking into a small wash trail that heads straight for Courthouse Butte, passing Big Country and then angling back towards it in its own wash. Big Country Spire has just one established route as of 2012, its namesake, established by Tatum and Burcham in 2006
. This short climb is not worth the approach except for ardent desert climbers who want to ride all the rides in town (self-introspection).
Big Country Spire is virtually impossible to pick out in the foreground (to the northwest) when climbing Oak Creek Spire. You never quite see it standing out from the wall behind it until you are due south or southwest of Big Country. If not climbing Oak Creek Spire, I recommend you approach from the west via a wash from Courthouse Butte, heading straight for Oak Creek Spire. This wash is below the high ridge to the right that connects Courthouse Butte and Oak Creek Spire above the road to the south. A small wash shows up on your left that angles northeast straight for Big Country Spire. Take this wash all the way up to the left (west) side of the spire. Bloom’s beta photo is incorrect showing an arrow heading up between a small sub peak on Big Country’s west shoulder and the spire itself.
Instead, circumvent the sub peak to the left and bushwhack up to the col between Big Country Spire and the large wall to its north. The route starts at the col. Either side of Big Country Spire will involve hideous bushwhacking in loose steep sand with no established or even faint trail to reach the col.
Route Description250’+/-, 3 Pitches, 5.9+
1st Pitch- 20m- 5.7/
Not a great pitch, more of an access pitch to the real climbing. From the col, locate the chossy right facing corner and climb it to its top and a fixed anchor.
2nd Pitch- 30m- 5.9+/
Move the belay up and left to the base of the off-width with another fixed anchor. The off-width crack is protected by bolts on the left wall. Straddle the tight off-width taking advantage of outside features when they appear. If you are not well schooled in true off-width technique this pitch will feel a lot harder than 5.9
. It is probably a bit sandbagged. Near the top it eases as you enter an open cave in the tower, the “room”
as the FAers described it. Make note of the rap station out on the right wall for the rappel.
3rd Pitch- 30m- 5.9/
This is a fun wide stemming pitch
up a split in the tower until you hit the choss
, then it is not so much fun anymore. Set the belay off to the side (south) to avoid falling debris. Stem up the wide chasm created by the split and eventually cling to the western side via chossy rock
. Finding reliable pro before committing to this side of the chasm is the crux of the climb
. Continue up a chossy corner to a fixed belay below the sub-summit on the left wall. The final move (quite run out unless you saved a C4 #4)
pulls through the left side of a roof on a large committing jug that will feel suspect if for no other reason than based on the rock you have been climbing to get there.
Four single rope raps return the route.
The middle pitch is mostly bolted, the first pitch involves easy climbing and the last pitch is mostly run out as a wide stem, so a single rack to C4 #4 should be more than adequate. Save the #4 for the last placement at the top of the 3rd pitch.
I placed no wires. The last pitch can easily drop debris down on the belayer, helmets advised. Don’t don your best clothes
, the bushwhacking will rip them to shreds no matter which approach you choose. The route is mostly north facing
. A single 60m rope is adequate for the raps. Handful of draws and slings.