Erik Wolfe has been a climber for 22 years. He started climbing in the North Cascades of Washington state, where the emphasis was on traditional climbing. This experience culminated in several long, back-country first ascents in 2005 and 2006, the stand-out being the completion of a 25-pitch ascent that was featured in Alpinist Magazine. In 2008, he moved to Flagstaff, and by this time he had the bug for putting up new routes. There, Erik met Sedona Rocks! co-author David Bloom, and the pair spent a lot of time exploring and putting up climbs. David has over 25 years experience, and is a great climbing partner to Erik and a resource of information.
Seems like there are a lot of books about climbing, what inspired your book?
Climbing with co-author David Bloom and other partners, it became apparent that the previous rock climbing guides were seriously out-dated. Another objective was to dispel the “scary and loose” reputation that Sedona climbing has had for years. New climbs had been going up in multiple areas around Sedona for some number of years. David has an eidetic memory for routes and beta (route details), and I have a good organizational mind and decent artistic talent for topography. Over a period of time, we came to realize we were well matched for the enormous task of organizing the areas and climbs of the region. After talking to a lot of the locals, we found that they were very supportive of the project. We were inspired by people that wanted their climbs to be repeated and enjoyed! The support was there, and the excitement was palpable. After 4 years to reach publication, the response has been overwhelmingly positive – a really nice reward for the effort.
What can readers expect from the book… is this something a novice could purchase and use?
In a word: No. Sedona is an adventure climber’s paradise, but many of the routes tend to be quite challenging in that regard. Even the easier routes can involve long approaches and a larger skill set than your average “beginner-friendly” climbing areas. That being said, the rewards equal the challenge. There are many moderate adventure climbs for those seeking an experience outside of the local crag. Generally, this is an area that is exhilarating but challenging with spectacular summits – but the beginning climber should tag along with an experienced leader. On the positive side, the experience of Sedona climbing definitely expands the perspective of the newer climber as to what real climbing is about, and that makes one a better all-around climber.
What will advanced climbers like about this book?
The advanced and expert climber will find the Sedona region to be very rewarding and diverse. The area abounds with sport, mixed and traditional routes with year-round climbing. From road-side cragging to back-country adventures, the experienced climber will find here a virtually unlimited vertical landscape for their desires, especially for those intrigued by traditional and mixed adventure climbs. The majority of climbs in Sedona are grade 5.10 and up. The newer climbs, while safer than the “old school” routes are still challenging, often require good technical skills and commitment.
What makes climbing in Sedona so special or unique? Why should I climb the red rocks?
The Sedona region is one of the most scenic and spectacular areas in the climbing world. Everywhere that one ventures has spacious and inspiring settings: whether it be a long approach up any of the multiple back-country canyons or the closer mesas and pinnacles, the adventure and connection to the earth spirit cannot be equaled. People travel from all over to experience the “Sedona energy”, and the climbing brings one a peak experience. Additionally, the approaches and climbing often take one off the normal beaten path – offering vistas and unique features not often seen by other travelers.
Did you face any challenges writing this book? How did you overcome those challenges to complete it?
The information that we initially received from the locals was staggering in its scope. There are over 550 climbs in 24 different climbing areas, and there are often areas within areas. Collecting and organizing so much raw data and creating the topo maps that climbers rely on for each climb was a daunting and very time-consuming task. The book was repeatedly being re-written and edited as new information was found and corrections were made. Once committed, we knew we had to follow through to the end. We just had to keep focused on the final goal until completion.
What do you love most about the book?
We wanted to keep a traditional feel to the guidebook, and I really love the mix of hand-drawn topographical maps and photographic ones. It gives the book nice variety, yet provides the landmarks and directions needed to navigate the sprawling region. I also really like the professional photographs of climbers that were donated by some of the top climbing photographers that live in the area.
What’s next for you?
We actually started this book as a Flagstaff and Sedona area guide, but it quickly got too big for just one book. The Flagstaff area guide will be the next project we are going to work on publishing.