Eagle Dance 5.10c, A0
Eagle Wall, Oak Creek Canyon
About the Climb
This route (and the wall) are named because of a huge patch of dark varnish shaped like an Eagle in the middle of the wall. The route goes up through the Eagle’s neck and it's a fantastic outing.
Another Urioste classic, this is an amazingly exposed route with fun and well protected cruxes on great rock. The location is spectacular. Although not a sport climb (the first pitch is long and all trad), the route has lots of bolts and only a small rack is necessary to supplement the bolts. The route is fairly sustained and almost every pitch has a bit of 5.10.
The first part of the route is easier and many climbers will choose to only climb the bottom section of the route. However, the upper part of the route offers more challenging and technical climbing and these pitches have a very different character. Although they are well protected, the climbing feels harder and more sustained, and the rock is sandier and softer. The two pitches above the bolt ladder are really the crux of the route and are amazingly sustained, but many parties don’t climb them and decide to rap down before the aid section.
The aid section is both short and fun and is the site of many climber’s introduction to aid climbing. Make sure to have a few slings or light aiders handy (for both the leader and second) and know how to use them to speed things up!
Even though the route keeps going all the way up to the top of the wall, rappelling is very straightforward, faster and more convenient for most people. If you decide to go to the top, the walk-off descent is really not that bad, taking about 1-1.5 hours to reach the wash and is easier than Epinephrine's descent. The wall gets a lot of sun and there’s a lot of black varnished rock on the climb, so it can get very hot.
This is a long route with a long approach and long descent (especially if you opt to walk-off). Start early, bring enough water and move fast. A few more tips: watch out for the cactus infested ramp at the base of the climb! Also, even if bivying at the base of the wall is a possibility, you will save energy by going light and fast in a day. Another option to consider is to park next to road 159. This adds about 1 mile total to your day but offers many advantages like no park entrance fee, no parking time limit, no tickets, you can start as early and finish as late as you want!
No direct combinations exist for this route and it usually takes a long day to approach, climb and descend this route for most parties. But if you rap the route and time allows, you should go try the first few pitches of Levitation 29. The first pitch is 5.10b and climbs varnished cracks and corners, the second pulls over a short roof at 5.11b and the third is 5.8. You can rap from any belay on this route too.
If you're in excellent shape and are looking for a super challenge, it is possible to combine Eagle Dance with routes down low in the canyon. For example, it would be possible to start your day by climbing Solar Slab (5.6) or Black Orpheus (5.9+), descending down through the Lower Painted Bowl and then reaching the base of Eagle Dance. This would represent an amazingly long and strenuous day with over 20 pitches (2500') of quality climbing, and should only be attempted by very fast, experienced and fit climbers. If you climb only the first 5 pitches until the aid section, you can save a little bit of time and decrease the difficulty slightly to about 5.10b.
If you're looking for an easier long classic route, go do Epinephrine (5.9). Although it is easier than Eagle Dance, it is more varied and has three great and sustained chimney pitches. For more long and sustained 5.10 routes with great face and crack climbing, check out Dream Of Wild Turkeys (5.10a), Unimpeachable Groping (5.10b), or Prince of Darkness (5.10c).
If you want to try something a little harder, you should try Sick For Toys (5.10d), which is shorter but really good. If you're ready for it, you should also try the must-do Levitation 29 (5.11c). At least check out the start while you're at the base of Eagle Dance!