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Hiking, rock climbing and picnicking at one of the Valley's signature spots. The trek to the summit is challenging but rewarding, offering a tremen...
Many climbers write off Camelback as nothing more than a pile of "choss," a.k.a. crumbly crap-rock. Yet it's really stunning how few harnessed adventurers come out to get high (naturally) in the Phoenix park that contains the pyramid-shaped pink mountain and surrounding slice of the Sonoran Desert. Yes, the rock quality, being composed of prehistoric mud, is poorer than the granite you'll find at Pinnacle Peak in Scottsdale or the volcano-born stone in the Superstition Mountains. But there... More »
Bouldering is nothing more than rock climbing without a rope on short boulder faces. You don't need a lot of gear to do it -- just a pair of good rock shoes and gymnasts' chalk, to dry up the sweat on your hands. Even those two items are optional, though the experience won't be as fun without them. By focusing on the climbing moves instead of futzing about with a lot of equipment -- not to mention worrying about dying an untimely death -- bouldering can be a wonderfully... More »
We've gotten way more out of Camelback Mountain over the years than heart-stopping views and heart-pounding workouts. But be warned: What we're about to describe is not for the faint of heart. In fact, you're best off consulting a professional -- or at least a guidebook -- before embarking on this adventure, if you're a novice.The sketchy rock-climbing routes on this centrally located desert mountain are mandatory test pieces for every aspiring local climber. Ridge Route, a climb on... More »
There are few breathtaking views in town to be had as easily as the one from Echo Canyon. Around here, getting high enough up a mountain to get a panoramic view tends to involve hiking for miles, purchasing a $12 cocktail, or even finding a sugar daddy. (How else are you going to buy that manse in Paradise Valley, real estate being what it is?) But this perfect little spot alongside Camelback Mountain does the trick for free. If you can walk a quarter-mile, you're at the summit. And what a... More »
The palm trees that stand dramatically at attention along the entrance to this posh resort should give you some clue: Nothing about this place is going to be subtle. Or even quietly luxurious (except perhaps in the meditation room of the spa). The Phoenician is shiny and rich, a paean to the joys of having money. Its premier restaurant, the elegant Mary Elaine's, even boasts murals hand-painted in 24K gold. You can't deny that the place is striking, the food is good, and the service is... More »
Bouldering is nothing more than rock climbing without a rope on short boulder faces. You don't need a lot of gear to do it — just a pair of good rock shoes and gymnasts' chalk, to dry up the sweat on your hands. Even those two items are optional, though the experience won't be as fun without them. By focusing on the climbing moves instead of futzing about with a lot of equipment — not to mention worrying about dying an untimely death — bouldering can be a wonderfully liberating experience, mentally. And it's a heck of a workout, physically. Best of all, it's free. At least, it is at Camelback Mountain, which is part of the Phoenix parks system. Quite a few bouldering options exist at Camelback, but we like the big pyramid-like boulder at the top of the trail's first long set of railroad-tie stairs. We've spent many an hour turning our hands into ground beef on this 25-foot-high boulder, especially the east-facing corner that wraps around into an overhanging cubby with tiny finger-pockets for handholds. Another traverse near the north side is where we like to practice our heel-hooking technique. Best of all, when our arms and hands are blown, we can jog up the 1.2-mile trail to the summit of Camelback to work out the rest of our body. For climbers, this combo workout is cross-training at its best.
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