Red Planet (5.13a)

Page Type
Route Type:
Trad Climbing
Time Required:
Half a day
Rock Difficulty:
5.13a (YDS)
Number of Pitches:

Route Quality: 1 Votes

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Red Planet (5.13a)
Created On: Oct 10, 2012
Last Edited On: Oct 11, 2012


A wonderful John Mattson route with a difficult crux and then a non- obvious finish. Often said to be the hardest climb in Sedona, it is significantly easier then another John Mattson route, Lifeline on the other side of town. With additional difficult climbs being put up in Sedonain the 5.13a and harder range, it will be safe to call it a difficult climb with no further qualifiers, outside of excellent or very good.

After a chossy first pitch, common among the hardest routes in Sedona, amazing climbing takes you half way up the climb. From here the character of the route abruptly changes. From physically difficult climbing, the climbing becomes easier with non-obvious beta on deteriorating rock quality ( although better then the first pitch) which then leads to the anchors.

Getting There

Follow the beta for Mars Attacks. As you reach the base of the cliff head right instead of left which would bring you to Mars Attacks. As you head up some debris from recent rock fall you will reach a dihedral which marks the start of the Big Corner/ Red Planet start. This also marks where the rappels for Mars Attacks end.

Route Description

Red Planet Beta for Red Planet

Pitch 1: 5.9 loose. Head up the large dihedral with a crappy hand crack ( flakes inside the crack can be moved physically with simply pulling on them). Reach the roof and clip the piton to move right around the roof. Thin moves on small gear takes you to easy ground leading to the limestone band and solid gear. After the limestone band a widening crack made easier with face holds on huecos lead to the anchors shared with the Big Corner (5.10d) Hanging belay on two bomber bolts and a piton.

Pitch 2: Recent major rockfall has changed the beginning of the route since the 3rd ascent ( John Mattson, Peewee Oullett, Nik Berry) making the traverse signicantly more difficult. Instead of the 5.9 traverse of the first ascent, major rockfall has made the start more difficult with a 5.11 travere. The difficultly and a probability of breaking an ankle, until the rest of the ledge falls away has been mediated with one extra bolt placed by Swartz/ Claude. Note as the ledge continues to fall away the start will continue to become more difficult.

Jeff on Red Planet Jeff Snyder into the heel locks near the start of the first crux

Traverse left on three bolts reaching the start of the overhanging fingercrack. Very steep fingers lead to two hand pods with heelhooks, leading to VERY steep rattley fingers/ ringlocks with technical feet. Difficult ringlocks (5.12d/.13a) lead to a short reprieve at a 2 ft roof leading to very overhanging rattley fingers. A small ledge lgives a break, as the rock quailty deteriotates as the crack angles towards the right toa small overlap protected by a drilled angle and non-obvious, non- trivial climbing (5.11). Non-obvious, non-trivial climbing through bizarre climbing leading to the anchors.

Two raps with a 60m rope get you to the base. The first rap will leave you about 15ft from the wall due to the severely overhanging nature of the climb if you are not careful.

Essential Gear

Pitch 1: red C3's to grey 3.5 camalot with 1 draw for the piton

Pitch 2: 3 draws for the bolts, blue 0.3 c4, grey 0.4 c4, 2 purple 0.5 C4's, 3-4 green 0.75 c4's, grey 0.4 C4, 1-2 purple 0.5 C4's, 2 blue 0.3 C4's, quick draw for piton, green 0 C3, 1-2 grey 0.4 C4's, red or yellow 1 or 2 C4, red C3 and two draws for the anchor

60m or 70m rope.


The first ascent is by John Mattson (2000)and the first onsite is by Alex Honnold (2011)

When to climb

The route recieves morning shade and goes into the sun about 1pm. Best time to climb is October to late April. After rain or snow please use common sense since rock integrity deteriorates with moisture.

User Profile Image author starting the steep fingers section

Red Planet (5.13a)

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