Trip ReportMy Favorite Phoenix 5.7
Back to the Wall - 5.7
McDowell Mountain Preserve - Morrell’s Parking Lot Wall
This route is by far one of my all-time favorite 5.7’s. Not just in Arizona but anywhere! Part of the reason I love it so much is the history I have with the route. Back to the Wall was my first lead, the first route I saw free soloed, the first route I brought my brother, wife and others to for their first outdoor climbing experience. I have climbed this 70ft of rock a lot. I have climbed it in the scorching Sonoran sun, the chill of a snowy winter day (yes we get flurries of snow on the mountains, sometimes), I have climbed it at night, and I have climbed it alone. To reconnect with my roots in climbing, I took a solo trip out there the other day for a few more laps on this gem!
To start with, if you have never been to the McDowell Mountains, you gotta go check them out. The hiking in the area is great, as is the climbing. The McDowells have a little bit of everything, kinda like Back to the Wall, it’s varied. If you climb in the area enough you will test yourself on a variety of technical slabs, stout jam cracks, roof moves and more. The crag where Back to the Wall is located is called Morrell’s Wall Parking Lot, and this section of cliff features several climbs below 5.10. A great spot for beginners or anyone looking for moderate climbs with an easy approach. Not to mention it is possible to scramble to the top where one can fix a line for some top-rope soloing. The setting at the base of these climbs is pretty darn sweet. You get awesome views of Four Peaks to the east and Toms Thumb sits up high on a ridge to the west. All around you are the unique shapes of granite boulders and cliffs. A special place, and even though it is a city park, you get the feeling of escape the moment you tie in.
The climb starts by scrambling up to a bolt and then up to a cool chockstone. For those looking for a little extra protection, plug a cam and make the crux move out from under the boulder. Above the crux you will find another bolt before working your way back into the chimney feature. Here the “back to the wall” moves come into play as you gun for the summit. A final face section tops out the climb, just beware the flake at the top sounds pretty hollow. The climbing is fun, varied, and well protected. There are a plethora of anchor bolts at the top to string up several top ropes on the other routes nearby. Make a day of it by also trying 7Up and Lunar Landing, or scramble around and enjoy the awesome setting that is the McDowells.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about my favorite Phoenix 5.7. Check back next week for my favorite 5.8! Have fun, be safe, and climb hard!
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