Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona Boneless Chicken Ranch. In early November, Dan Stih and I established a new wall route in Oak Creek Canyon, high in Counterfeiter Canyon, just north of Sedona. The route, Arizona Boneless Chicken Ranch (IV 5.11 A3+) climbs a steep 175- meter-high wall of fairly compact Coconino sandstone. The route, a continuous line from ground to summit, starts up an incredibly clean open book (C2) to the base of a five-meter roof. At this point the routes quality begins to deteriorate rapidly; the only reason we continued climbing was the combination of the enticing cracks we saw higher up and the distorted cognitive thought process one gets with repeated desert epics. Pitch 2 climbs over the “Chicken Ranch Roof" (A3+) and up some of the most horrifically loose sandstone either of us had ever contemplated climbing. Dan led the roof and part of the rotten overhanging seam above before lowering off a junk rivet and handing me the rack.
After jugging past the worst of the climbing and seeing the garbage Dan had placed, I arrived at his high point with my heart in my throat. The thought of falling on the rivet I was jugging on, let alone the mess below, encouraged me to start nailing in anything that looked remotely feasible as protection. Finishing the pitch I realized that, for the first time in nearly 15 years of aid climbing on sandstone, my heart was beating so radically I feared I might actually have a heart attack. Hand-drilling two half-inch by four-inch Rawls calmed me down. Pitch 3 climbs excellent rock (A2) to a semi-hanging belay. Pitch 4 starts out an overhanging 5.11 offwidth and finishes up another steep, rotten A2+ seem. Pitch 5 finishes the route free to the top. There doesn’t seem to be any mediocre rock on the wall; it’s either excellent or garbage.