Willow Canyon

Centex Roof Project.  Photo by Andy Klier

Blimp Roof Project.  Photo by Sam Tingey

Blimp Roof Project.  Photo by Sam Tingey

First Ascent of Lost in the City of Madness.  Photo by Sam Tingey

First Ascent of Lost in the City of Madness.  Photo by Pat Fitts

Roof Project.  Photo by Pat Fitts

I've been developing a sector of the New World called Willow Canyon with  Sam Tingey and Pat Fitts.  The drive to Willow is long and depressing.  It is about 100 miles through the Badlands and Desert Apocalypse Compounds near Winslow before the road returns to the forest.  Willow Canyon hosts a lot of steep limestone roofs and highballs along hillsides, but there is also sandstone in the riverbed.  We've been building landings, working on the road, and creating  trails since we discovered the area a few weeks ago. Pat discovered a sick sandstone prow in the dried up riverbed to the canyon.   Pat and I put up a problem on the right side with technical arete moves to a highball flake finish on jugs called Lost in the City of Madness.  Sam put up a climb on the left arete called Aliens. I did the second ascent of this one. We built the landing up a bit to make it level for the center line climbing the prow. Sam did the FA of this line, which is called Sleeper Hit. The problems on the sandstone prow are just as good as anything in Kelly Canyon or the Ozarks.

  There is a massive roof called the Blimp Roof in Willow Canyon.  The projects on this feature climb 20+ feet on a horizontal roof to a difficult lip encounter and a highball finish.  We spent a total of five days building up the steep landings by moving rocks that weigh hundreds of pounds, numerous trees, logs, and a massive quantity of rock and dirt.   I've been working on the right exit to Blimp Roof.  I've put several days into it and there are still a few moves that I haven't done.  The crux consists of a 6+ foot throw to a crimp.  The sequence is starting to come together.  I need to rappel off the top of this one to clean off the rest of the holds.  The projects on this roof are going to be some of the most difficult and proud climbs in Northern Arizona.  In comparison to Big Worm at Mt. Evans, I would say that the Blimp Roof is of comparable difficulty, maybe harder. 

  Today we had another traffic delay about 10 miles from our exit in Winslow.   There was a pileup of semi-trucks wrecked on east bound I-40. Apparently there were numerous deaths caused by the wreck. The line of cars and semis was over 4 miles long, and with helicopters in the distance heading towards the scene, we chose to bail and find an alternate route to our destination.

  We took some random forest roads to link up with the forest roads near the Mogollon Rim. The forest in Northern Arizona is badass because there are many roads that link up together allowing for many different routes to a single destination. Most forest roads are well maintained, but sometimes out of nowhere they will turn into heinous 4WD roads. Not only that but there is an amazing amount of rock here, particularly limestone. If you drive down many forests roads long enough you are likely to encounter more rock. After 70 miles on dirt roads and an extra hour of driving we finally made it back to the Blimp Roof. The landing for the Blimp roof has been built up enough to do some of the boulder problems somewhat safely. Pat and I climbed on a sick new roof near the end of the day, but we were too tired from the day's work to put up any rock climbs.   Other contributors to this area include Texans Andrew Oliver and Andy Klier who both established first ascents, and Cody who was a great help with the Blimp Roof landing.  More to come.