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Queen Creek Cyn / Devil's Canyon - Lower
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mini location map2020-06-08
10 by photographer avatarDennisWilliams
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Queen Creek Cyn / Devil's Canyon - LowerGlobe, AZ
Globe, AZ
Climbing avatar Jun 08 2020
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••••• The Shmotem Pole 5.10bTrad3 Pitches250 ft
Varied multi-pitch adventure climb, including entering a cave from the face and climbing through the ceiling to continue.
Taking advantage of the weather window to do more high desert climbing in June. This one has been high on my list since I became aware of it last winter: The Shmotem Pole in Lower Devil’s Canyon.

As seen in a prior trip-log there is a notable destination climb in Lower Devil’s Canyon called The Totem Pole. The first ascent is unknown. The climb is widely popular with local climbers and for good reason, even attracting climbers from other countries. From the climbing crags at Lower Devil’s one can look across the canyon to the east and see an amazing collection of spires, spoken of by climbers in hushed tones of awe and admiration and with knowing glances as Lower Devil’s East. There lies one of the tallest free standing spires in Arizona.

First climbed in 2009 by a party led by Marcy Makarewicz, local climbing lore tells that upon reaching the summit and looking across the canyon to the west at the much smaller Totem Pole, she roared out “Shmotem Pole!” in triumph, and so the name has come down to us. And what a climb it is!

Brett, Angel, and myself drove in to the crossing at Hackberry Creek and hiked in the rest of the way. A sketchy cairned path leads beyond the saddle near the Glitter Box down into the main canyon of what I believe to be Monument Creek (the water body that runs through Devil’s Canyon). There are large sycamores providing canopy to sandy beaches along the creek where trout rise. Yes, you read that right, trout in a stream that flows where saguaros grow. I saw them yesterday. Not many places like that. There is also poison ivy so wear long pants. I found that out the hard way some weeks back. Past the creek the path leads up to the crags: The Entrance Tower, The Coop, The Hatch, Climbology, The Microskunk (otherworldly), The Shmotem Pole, and some others. This is surely a place where the gods dwell, at least part time.

We geared up and Angel led the first pitch, 110 feet of 5.10b that has a few bolts to protect key moves but requires substantial placement of gear for safety. A mixed route. A combination of face, bulge, crack, and a bit of off-width, the pitch tops out by crawling into a cave affectionately known to climbers as the “Shmotem Hole”. There is a two bolt belay in the cave and room for all three of us to hang out inside.

I led the second pitch, 50 feet of 5.8 that goes up through the ceiling of the Shmotem Hole and back out onto the face. There are a couple bolts but they are in an awkward arrangement and I placed a couple extra pieces to protect what would be a pretty big pendulum fall into a crack. Not hard climbing but fairly big exposure. Again, weird off-width stuff with stemming up moving onto face climbing. From the top of pitch 2 you move the belay up some easy ground to another belay at the bottom of pitch 3. Back out onto face climbing the views here are terrific.

Brett led the third pitch, 90 feet of 5.10a that pulls a bulge down low and then moves to hero climbing on easier ground up to the summit. A couple bolts and gear. The route wanders around on this pitch so it is good to extend your alpines to minimize rope drag, of which there was considerable. The summit is big enough for several people to stand on and the views are sublime. In particular the Microskunk towers look like they don’t belong on this planet. I plan to visit them in the fall. There is a summit register with probably fewer than 100 names (didn’t count) going back to 2009. It contains some notable names of Arizona rock climbing. Naturally, we sipped a bit of Lagavulin 16 to mark the occasion. Two rappels to get down, both free hanging for big sections, the second requiring two ropes at about 150 feet. A 70m rope won’t do it but an 80m might. If you try that expect the ends to be hanging a few feet off the deck.

Hiking out we were dive bombed by a Harris Hawk. Using field glasses we had seen the nest over on the Coop, several hundred yards from where we were climbing, but that was too close for her. She dove on us again and again while we hiked through the creek bottom, probably a half mile from her nest, screaming the whole time. She made certain we were good and gone before breaking off the attack. We finished up with ice cold Spaten beer back at the truck. A fine day indeed.
Cag Shot

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