I climbed the original route (southwest face) on Earth Angel in 2013. It is one of the more substantial objectives in the Sedona area offering decent crack climbing to reach a 700’ summit. I returned in 2015 to climb this new route on the north face of Earth Angel established in the fall of 2014.
Although it definitely needs some cleaning up, Touched by an Angel offers another fun and worthy ascent on Earth Angel. The original route was established in 1975. Forty years span the only established lines on this tower.
This first pitch mixes a variety of climbing skills with a fun roof/bulge via a huge flake and protects well to a comfortable fixed belay. The second pitch is unique in that it follows a right leaning ramp for the entire length of the pitch and burrows through a small hole to a large comfortable belay (fixed) ledge. The third pitch starts with an awkward (but easy) traverse in to below a splitter and then offers sustained hand and fingers with a crux bulge. The facial features are crusty on this pitch and make it a spicer lead then it would be if on better rock.
The forth pitch is fun and wide. The final pitch currently has a bolt in the wrong place to be considered a safe lead on lichen covered north-facing sandstone. A lower fixed piece of pro would make this a fun arête pitch. You can tie into the final pitch of the original Earth Angel route below this final pitch or you will tie into it near the summit. Rap the route.
Take Jordan Road north out of downtown (main tourist area) Sedona. At the T-intersection turn left (W. Park Ridge Drive). The paved road turns into a dirt road that leads to a fee-use trail head, a common theme in Sedona. Don’t take any of the marked trails, instead walk through the equestrian parking area and drop down into the wash that heads northwest for Mormon Canyon
. Stay in the wash for approximately an hour, almost to the end of the canyon (passing a common climb/tower on the right named Goliath about half way). The faint steep wash leading up to Earth Angel is not always marked with cairns but the tower is easy to spot up on the right hill side, approximately 500’ above. This tower does not get climbed much and the brush grows well on both banks of the canyon. You come to a Y before the end of the canyon, take the right fork straight up to the southwest face of Earth Angel. Skirt the base of the tower bushwhacking up to the north face. You have a short cliff band to overcome by scrambling up the far left side and then backtracking back to a small ledge
which marks the start of the route below the obvious flake chimney.
Route DescriptionTouched by an Angel, 700’+/-, 5.10
1st Pitch- 150’- 5.10/
This was my favorite pitch of the route as it offered a variety of climbing on good gear. I set up a belay for my 2nd in a pod right below the finger crack start. Follow the crack up the left side of the chimney flake (solid medium gear in the back). Make a fun roof pull on the arête of the flake. Continue up fun (easier ground) chimney climbing until you can traverse left to a tree and fixed rap.
Move the belay up and left to a small ledge at the very base of a large right leaning ramp (solid small gear belay).
2nd Pitch- 150’- 5.8+/
This is by far the easiest pitch of the day. Climb the fun ramp with good gear through a small hole at the top. You can protect way out right before scooting though the hole. The FAer’s talk about potentially splitting these pitch, but I see no need for this. Just extend your gear appropriately and then you will not have too much rope drag. The hole dumps you out onto a large comfy ledge with your 2nd fixed rap station.
3rd Pitch- 150’- 5.10/
This pitch is the crux of the climb. As the FAer’s point out, similar to a “Zion” type splitter, but on lichen covered north facing chossy features when outside the crack. Our more obscure Zion stuff would be the same. But for this pitch, think the third pitch of the Headache (Zion) with everything outside the crack as sketch. Start out with an awkward 5.7 traverse left. I chose to place one extended piece on the traverse and then wait until I got vertical a few meters before placing a second. This offered the best rope drag scenario. There is a stuck modern piece (2015) at the very start of the vertical crack, but it is not worth clipping as that would put a big bend in the rope. The higher you get the wider the crack (C4#3 towards the end). The crux move comes at the beginning of the twin cracks about midway, pulling finger cracks over a bulge with suspect foot edges. Until the rock cleans up, this lead is a bit heady for the grade. Climb to a decent stance/ledge and fixed rap below a chimney.
4th Pitch- 100’- 5.9 / Climb the fun chimney placing a few larger pieces until you reach a large ledge. This ledge is shared with the original Earth Angel route. You come in above the pitch on the southwest face of Earth Angel that has all the cool large “chicken head” features. Thus you can belay on the tree and then determine how you are going to finish the route.
5th Pitch- 100’- 5.10 PG13 or 5.7 / The FAer’s labeled this last pitch as PG13 but the second accentors questioned the safety of this last pitch and I concur. It is more like "R" until they add an additional bolt. The issue is not the climbing (which has little if any 5.10 on it) but the lack of pro combined the poor quality rock. Currently there is only one bolt on the pitch (2015) and it is high up on the arête, forcing you to jug on atypical (pliable) lichen covered Sedona limestone without pro. The upper bolt is to protect the final traverse off the arête, up and left. To reach it, you have to climb several meters off the deck on suspect holds. The first real gear is approximately 35’ up. Start to the right and traverse left to the arête and follow positive holds to a solid C4#.5 slot. After another few meters, clip the bolt and make crux face moves up and left to a ledge with a tree. Continue up the final face above which is the same finish as for the original route on Earth Angel. Until another bolt is added to the lower half of the arête, I would advise tying into the last pitch of the original route earlier by walking past the tree you belay off of and finishing up the original route from there (5.7).
DescentRap the route with double ropes. Rap from the summit to the top of pitch 3. Pitch 3 to top of pitch 2. Pitch 2 to top of pitch 1. Pitch 1 to the ground which is below where you started, maybe grab your shoes and backpack out left as you rap by and continue on down to avoid a bit of bushwhack on the return.
Essential GearDouble 60m ropes. Single from micro to C4#5. Double C4#.4 through #2. Off set cams or a few nuts. Plenty of shoulder length runners. Extend your pieces as these are long and wandering pitches. True north facing route, dress accordingly. Helmets advised for the choss factor.