Top of the first pitch...
Santa’s Chimney is an afterthought to the much more classic climb, Dr. Rubo’s Wild Ride (5.9)
. It is a much stouter climb on lessor quality rock.
Spencer, Anderson and Cathey established Santa’s Chimney in 1997
. As much of a chimney/off-width aficionado that I am, I was not overly impressed with the climbing. The position of being deeply embedded amongst Coffee Pot rocks was awesome but the scaly and mossy nature of the sandstone left much to be desired in terms of rock quality.
The first pitch is the business of the route: a tall (50m) interior crack/chimney located in the guts of the tower directly behind
Summit Block Rock. The second and third short pitches offer fixed pro at the cruxes. The whole interior of this chasm is carved into a semi-circle. Once you climb the initial chimney to its top which is more than half of the route, you traverse left along a narrow ledge to the center of the semi-circle and climb the short vertical crack (fixed pro) to a ledge, then traverse right up a slab (fixed pro) to the upper loose ledges. The last pitch moves right and up a short 5.8 crack to the bushy summit ridge with is followed via 4th class ground to the summit out left.
This is the same approach as for Dr. Rubo’s Wild Ride and is fairly simple. Locate Coffee Pot Road in western Sedona. Head north and turn left on Maxwell House road. Turn right on Caswell Road and park at the north end at a trail head. Follow the trail north out of the parking area and stay right until you come across a significant trail that heads back left and north for the Coffee Pot rock area. Head up the hill on a climbers trail to the base of Summit Block Rock and follow it up left (faint trail at most) to an obvious large interior chimney in the next tower located directly behind Summit Block Rock. Scramble up some quick 4th-5th class to suit up on a nice slick rock ledge inside the chimney. If it is a hot day, you will appreciate this climb.
Route Description270’+/-, 3 Pitches, 5.10
1st Pitch- 50m- 5.10+/
The first half of this pitch was mossy and fragile
, thus a brutal trad lead on suspect rock. The second half opens up more to off-width and chimney
climbing offering a bit more security albeit run-out. Start up the right side corner. When you can get off-width you feel secure. When you lose the wide crack, you are forced to rely on suspect holds on the left wall to assist with a small finger crack.
On this first pitch, you can place everything from Metolius “00” to a C4 #6 to off-set cams
. The top of the pitch reaches a nice ledge up and right that is reached by (much easier than the rest of the pitch) run out chimney climbing. You can even catch some sun on this ledge if you climbed it during the right time of day (afternoon). As I recall, there was a fixed station here, but it is not a rap station. The rap is out left, after the traverse to gain the start of the second pitch. There are rap rings in the middle of the semi-circle.
2nd Pitch- 20m- 5.10/
Traverse the narrow ledge out left. I suggest you move the belay out left to the fixed rap station. Follow the finger crack straight up with at least one fixed bolt. Once you reach the bush, traverse up and right on slab past another bolt to a comfortable ledge.
3rd Pitch- 15m- 5.8/
Continue up the loose ledges and traverse left to an easy crack. Climb this crack (5.8) to more trees and bushes. The summit is up and left.
Two double rope (60m) raps required. Rap from the tree on top back to the start of the 2nd pitch. Rap from there back to the base.
The first pitch pushed me around. If I led it again, I would take a single rack from Metolius 00 to C4 #6 along with a few smaller off-set cams. Double from C4 #.3 to 2.
You will need a mix of slings and draws. If you place a few pieces in the easier chimney portion up high on the first pitch, you will need to extend them quite a bit to avoid rope drag.
This is a cool temperature climb, well protected from the sun.
Dress appropriately. Double 60m ropes.