Cripple Creek is one of just a few classic multi pitch trad climbs available on Mount Lemmon. It offers three decent pitches led completely on gear up the gut of a prominent feature aptly named the Pharaoh. The first two pitches have fixed raps but to complete the route, you must rap down the opposite side of the formation and scramble back down to the base to continue climbing on the wall. “Squeezing the Lemon” guide gives Cripple three stars and I concur with the choice rating. “Stout climb with fantastic exposure” is how MP.com describes it.
The middle pitch is the goods, following a steep crack via a cruxy height dependent move off the deck. The first pitch is also at grade as you traverse over various cracks rightward and up through a constricted slot to a fixed rap/belay. The final pitch is the easier of the three pitches and takes you to the summit of Pharaoh.
The Pharaoh and its neighboring wall, Ripple, make for a full day destination. Another great trad lead just to the left of Cripple Creek is Hell is for Heroes, 5.9R***. Ripple Wall features tall sport routes of which Fear of Frying, 5.10**, is an exceptional choice at the grade. You can access these side by side walls from below or above. They sit due east of Windy Point (a popular pull out for tourists driving up and down the mountain). The recommended approach is to drive past Windy Point and pull off on the right past mile marker 15. Descend over the guard rail on the west end of this pull out and follow an indistinct trail along a ridge line down to the col between Ripple Wall on your right and Pharaoh straight ahead. Both face due south. Descend to the east to reach the base of Pharaoh. Cripple Creek starts to the left of a relatively small roof (see main photo). The first pitch trends right and up a left facing corner to a fixed rap above the corner.
1st Pitch- 105’-5.10-/ Climb the left side cracks and traverse right into the corner up higher when they peter out. Squeeze through the flared slot atop the corner and find a fixed rap/belay.
2nd Pitch- 105’-5.10-/ This pitch is the more sustained and challenging lead at the grade. Chimney/off-width up the wide chasm to reach a hand jug. Make a positive, but exposed, swing up into the corner/crack proper. Stem, crack and face climb up the seam until it ends and then make a relatively easy traverse left to an aging (2020) fixed rap/belay.
3rd Pitch- 100’-5.8/ Finish up and right and then back left below a roof. Gear belay on top with the rap down the backside right below you in a bowl.
Short rap off the backside. The east side of the Pharaoh is a much easier descent/ascent than the west side offers (tons of brush).
60m rope. Single to C4 #3 with a selection of wires and/or off set cams. Plenty of alpine type draws for extension on the traverses. Haul shoes to the top for the walk back down if doing other routes. You could also leave your packs at the col between the Pharaoh and Ripple Wall. Full sun, south facing wall.