The Waterfall

The Waterfall

I hereby award The Waterfall with the coveted "Best Single Pitch Trad Climbing Award" of 2016.

The columnar basalt requires not just that you be an excellent crack climber, or that you excel at technical climbing, or powerful climbing, or tiny gear, but that you can do it all.

Steele can do it all.

An illustration: Vertebrae, 11b

Like many of the routes at The Waterfall, Vertebrae starts off with an easy approach as it ramps into the business. The true climbing begins with an open-close-open-close handcrack that calls for big moves. The crack kicks back and narrows down to a combination of fingers, face climbing, and stemming. Above a final rest the crack becomes pure fingers. Some big moves - and one last microcam - transition back into face-climbing where (as we climbed it, anyways) you move five feet up and left to a half-body-length roof and pull it like a goddamn hero because, baby, you're doing big moves over a very tiny cam.

The hold you grabbed above the roof is a large vertical edge that makes the bottom half of a horizontal. Hand-traverse it to the right, get back over your .1 X4, and finally get a happy rest as the horizontal has closed down enough to handjam. Of course, you still don't have feet. Hang in there.

Now for the crux, because that hasn't happened yet. Stand up. Make a move. That's all. Just make a move in that overhanging, cramped corner on a tiny, tiny fingercrack. Finish it all by kicking out right and back into face climbing for a very satisfying mantel finish to the chains.

Vertebrae at The Waterfall
Vertebrae takes the small crack through the middle of the frame


So to review:

  1. handjams
  2. fingerlocks
  3. crimps
  4. jugs
  5. roofs
  6. stemming
  7. overhangs
  8. slab
  9. mantels
  10. horizontals

.... all in one route. All kinds of climby in one climbing! Sweet christ.

Lord Humongous: Overhanging .5s and .75s that goes at 5.11 thanks to jugs and crimps every ten feet.

Black and Tan: A 5.10 corner climb with two (2!) roofs.

The place is rad children. Rad.

My first trip to the 'fall started with this text, the night before my flight out of Phoenix at 4pm.

Come to the waterfall tomorrow! No excuses
Matt Steele

Well then.

Steele drove down with Megan - whom I'd convinced to join us - and his buddy Nate.

Megan and Steel make the crossing

Nate follows up

I did Black and Tan and used the anchor to toprope Lord Humongous and then split for Phoenix.

I was back nine days later with just Steele, when he proceeded to smash dick all over all of his projects. And remember now, this is Matt Steele of many creekings. His projects are the projects of strong man with heart of gold.

Behold how he racks.

Yes, you're right. That is a lot of finger pieces.

Can't wait to get back there. In fact, between The Waterfall, Sedona's Towers, Steele and Megan, maybe I should just declare Flagstaff as a new home base?

Matt Enlow

Matt has a camera, a home on wheels, and this website
Down by the river