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The Eye of the Hurricane (*TR*)
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Sep 17, 2003, 8:15 PM
Post #1 of 6 (1974 views)

Registered: May 29, 2002
Posts: 8588

The Eye of the Hurricane (*TR*)
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Can also be seen @ ;) This is my first desert tower experience... whoa!

Several photos to download. And you KNOW I didn't really say "schtupp!" :P
The Eye of the Hurricane
Text and photos by Hillary Davis

Don't go right, it's a death trap. Don't go left, it's blank. And you know you can't go down!

I'm peering up a curved slot, blinking furiously to clear my eyes of sand, and, I swear, the remains of an owl pellet. I stick my left hand in, palm right, thumb down. Latch a sidepull. Stall. Flip my hand - palm left, thumb down. Tickle the sidepull with my fingertips to remind myself that it's still there. I'd like to think that the rock is "always" going to be there, but this is a Sedona spire. You know those holds are seasonal at best.
The Cathedral Rock group, home to the Mace, Hurricane, and more. Our objective today is Hurricane (5.10, 3p), which travels up the squat eggplant-shaped formation on the far right side of the group.

"It's a real committing move. You just gotta work your feet and stand up and slap that edge." Rick is coaxing me in his thick (sorry Rick, it is!) Arkansas accent.

"It's a great jam," he drawls.

Well, if you say so. Perhaps without these pebbles gathered in the constriction. Sweep, sweep.

Palm left, thumb... up.

"Just move y'or feet up now."

Ever held a cat a few inches off the floor and watched its paws spin like whirlpool jets? That was me.

"Ffffuck!" I retreat, cowed, to the safety of a tense rope. That is NOT a great jam. Shut up! And don't even ask me about the feet.

So here I am, one jam and a mantle away from the first belay of Hurricane, a 5.10 that traces a tower along a bumpy slab, a laser-cut handcrack, and a chimney that you could string up a U-Haul truck in (were it not for the creaking, end-table-sized chockstones in the way). This foot-long sliver sitting primly between the unruly blocky band and the cruel bald slab was my only way off the face and toward the prize crack system.

I whimpered, I swore, I rested the lip of my helmet against the rock in despair.

"There ain't no other way," Rick said casually, but firmly.

So it is. I stuffed my hand in the fissure, wriggling my fingertips through the fine orange sand. The crack perspired dust.
Chips floated out and into the breeze, until finally I cleared the most bomber little finger crack ever- ev-er. Thoughts of a rattly hand jam followed the bits of sandstone into the void.

Crank, grunt... slap! I crawled toward Rick's bare feet and the pile of pink rope. And that first pitch was behind me.
Kole scampering up the first pitch... and then blazing up the second.

While that short crack represented the technical crux, the next pitch was The Business.

Kole fired through the tight but bomber handcrack, barely evicting little puffs of particles from its interior. When he gained the chimney, though, a steady sheet of raindrop-sized pebbles danced off my helmet, pattering and scattering. Kole, a calm and efficient climber, took at least 20 minutes before announcing, "off belay!" Must have been a long pitch.

It was.





The handrack was but a clever ruse to suck you into the huge chimney system. The enormous chockstones created incipient offwidth sections. Chicken-wing here, heel-toe cam there, groveling and ducking everywhere.

Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt" played over and over in my head- but of course, in the voice of the late, great, Johnny Cash. As I approached a crumbling rail and, with just a tap, snapped pieces of rock off and down my arms, I summoned Cash's grovely, mournful baritone- "I hurt myself, today." I was a little bit frazzled, yes, but not really as sensitive as the rock.

The rock is alive, if not particularly glamorous. It sweats dust and vomits pebbles. It sighs. But it is still beautiful, for all its weaknesses.

Gradually, the climb grabbed ahold of me, endearing me, relaxing me. The walls of the chimney closed in to allow for perfect back and foot stemming, like sittin' back in an easy chair. Scoot, scoot. The rhythmic scraping of my chalkbag against the rock provided a soundtrack for the sublimely enchanting movement. I consider myself a sport climber, a pocket and edge specialist, but when the butt-scooting and leg-bridging was over, I was truly disappointed., my name is Hillary and yes, I am as sane as I look! *Photo by Kole

I reached Kole to find him seated comfortably in a room-sized recess above the chimney's first ceiling, surrounded by swirly, sparkly walls. This chimney had transformed from a chossy heap to a fun, featured corridor to a truly magical little cave.

An adjacent chimney filtered shafts of sunlight into our cave. With a little tunneling, you could catch a peek out of the formation's south "door" at the miniature valley floor, at the end of at least a mile of red slab and talus.
Rick, heading into the light and feeling kinda rummy, on pitch 3

When Rick, Kole and I surged through one more pitch and congregated on the flat, sun-soaked summit, I was a mess. My hands, feet, elbows, and haywire ponytail were dusted with enough orange powder to make it look like I'd climbed out of a pit of paprika. I was laden with slings and random, clinking biners. I didn't know what time it was, because I'd stuffed my watch into my sneakers at the base, but the rich maize-colored glow suggested about 4 p.m. After a long rap down (alongside a wicked-looking offwidth that has Kole salivating) I teetered through the scree to our packs, grabbed another of my three cameras, and snapped more photos of our incredible surroundings, trying to capture as much of the remarkable day as I could.
Way above Sedona... from the first belay ledge

More pix below!


Sep 17, 2003, 8:26 PM
Post #2 of 6 (1974 views)

Registered: May 29, 2002
Posts: 8588

Re: The Eye of the Hurricane (*TR*) [In reply to]
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More Hurricane pix

Pre-climb preparations: Sorting gear before heading up. Rick and Kole enjoy the relatively easy hike (it doubles as a general tourist trail). The two-pronged formation in the background is the Mace, arguably Sedona's most famous spire.

Taping up...

"En route" Rick on pitch 1. Another perspective on pitch 1. You can relax now! An anchor bolt in the fat chimney.


Sep 17, 2003, 8:53 PM
Post #3 of 6 (1974 views)

Registered: May 4, 2003
Posts: 454

Re: The Eye of the Hurricane (*TR*) [In reply to]
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Nothing like climbing a big pile of choss is there. Gotta love Rick's pants, it is Sedona though I guess.


Sep 19, 2003, 10:35 AM
Post #4 of 6 (1974 views)

Registered: Aug 28, 2002
Posts: 5919

Re: The Eye of the Hurricane (*TR*) [In reply to]
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sweet! i really have to hit Sedona sometime this season...every time i travel through there, i leave wishing i had brought my gear...oh well!

good job, Hillary! very nice...


Sep 20, 2003, 5:47 AM
Post #5 of 6 (1974 views)

Registered: Aug 9, 2003
Posts: 183

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Nice report! :) and the pants.... what can I say!! :lol:


Sep 20, 2003, 7:23 AM
Post #6 of 6 (1974 views)

Registered: Jan 17, 2003
Posts: 822

Re: The Eye of the Hurricane (*TR*) [In reply to]
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I hope that fence with the spikes on it isn't anywhere TO CLOSE to the climb :)

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