Capitol Butte P1K RS
Chimney Rock P300
Little Sugarloaf RS
Sugarloaf Mountain RS
Windmill Mountain RS

Oct 10, 2022

With: Tom Becht
Iris Ma
Tom Grundy
Eric Smith

Chimney Rock
Sugarloaf Mountain
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX


Day four in Sedona was a full one, keeping us busy from sunrise til past sunset. The collection of summits included four from Purcell's Rambles & Scrambles, the other a 5.8 rock climb by its easiest route.

Capitol Butte

This P1K rises high above the north side of Sedona. There is a use trail going to the summit from the west off the Lizardhead Trail. A good starting point is the Dry Creek Trailhead at the north end of the trail. We thought an early start before 7a would be good enough to beat the crowds, but we were woefully wrong. Seems one of the most popular tourist sites for a photo op is the Devils Bridge, and the Dry Creek TH is the easiest way to get to it. The parking lot was full and cars were cruising through it slowly, hoping to get lucky, but in vain. We happen to have the two Jeeps with us, and it was fortuitous that an OHV road is found at the end of the paved portion of Dry Creek Rd where the TH is located. There is a rock obstacle set up at the very start to keep passenger vehicles from attempting it. We drove over the obstacle and found a place to park a short distance down the road. Parking problem solved.

The hike to Capitol Butte is fairly straightforward, and quite enjoyable. It helped that we had a GPX track that would make it easier to find the unsigned use trail off the maintained one, about 15min after starting out. The social trail climbs the lower slopes to the base of a cliff feature where it follows around the north side before working up to the top of the cliff through the first of several class 3 sections. Above this, views open up to Sedona and other landmarks to the south as one discovers there are various threads to the trail, all with the goal of getting one to the summit. We lost the trail briefly about 15min from the summit. While others were looking around for ducks and signs of the social route, I decided to do some extra scrambling off to the left with TomB following me. This got a bit dicey and class 4-ish, and we used the 20-foot piece of webbing I've been carrying to give TomB a handline through the worst of it. We eventually met back up with the others and continued towards the top. The others went up to the lower west summit first, while I carried on to the eastern one which I knew to be higher. The views are nothing short of outstanding as one of the highest in the Sedona area. We found curious objects that had been fashioned by shamans, including the powerful Energy Stone which we found to increase our bodies' chakras merely by holding it up the sky. We also discovered healing powers with mystical liquids consumed within the aura of Capitol Butte's vortex. Cookies were pretty good, too. After a suitable time at the summit, our bodies revitalized, we reversed the route off the summit, this time having no trouble following the trail back. We were back to the Jeeps by 10:30a, ready for more fun. Well, most of us. Eric commented later that he wore himself out keeping up with what he thought was a blistering pace. The rest of us thought it pretty standard fare.

Chimney Rock

This is an impressive feature, detached from the south side of Capitol Butte. Its easiest route, a chimney running vertically up the north side, is rated 5.8. This was the sort of thing that interested TomG, though Iris was the only other one among us that was actually capable of climbing at that grade. I had come to Sedona with aiding gear, just for such an adventure - I couldn't free climb 5.8, but I could jug my way up it. TomB and Eric had little interest in the rock climb, so they went off to do the very easy Doe Mtn a few miles to the west - all trail, and short, too.

Our starting point for Chimney Rock was the Andante TH at the north end of town, east of Chimney Rock. The parking lot is small, holding only a half dozen cars, but there was only one other vehicle when we pulled in around 11a. We spent some time packing gear, including a single 70m rope that would suffice, then headed out. It takes only 20min to reach the base of Castle Rock, following the trail system that would take us most of the way there. Once at the base, it took another 25min before TomG was starting up the first pitch with Iris belaying. I mostly walked around for the next hour and change to take pictures while TomG worked his way up and then belayed Iris to do the same. The crux was a very narrow section that was so tight, they had to take their helmets off to fit through. It was convenient that the climb used only half of the rope. This allowed TomG to fix one end for me to jug up, and the other I tied in for a safety belay. This would make it far less stressful, knowing that I didn't depend completely on the micro cams and knotted cords I used for aid. It took me about 25min to work my way up to the others, having an easier time at the crux because I could ascend outside the narrowest part and kept my helmet on. Still, it was an awkward last bit working through the narrow confines with others just above me laughing and offering encouragement at the same time.

At the top of the pitch, I was happy to find the remainder was just a short scramble. While TomG and Iris cleaned up the gear, I went up to the top and poked around for a register and the rap chains. We found no register, but the rap chains were nicely arranged for a descent off the sunny south side. Shortly we had the whole part at the top. Meanwhile, TomB and Eric had finished their hike of Doe Mtn and driven over to our TH. Eric came up to the base of the climb while I had been ascending, and afterwards he moved around to the south side to watch us rapping off. TomG went down first, followed by myself, then Iris. It took us about 20min to get all of us down and pull the rope. We then had to return to the north side to get the rest of our gear and pack it up before we were ready to head down. It was only when he wasn't carrying a backpack that I noticed just how tattered Eric's shirt was - seems this is one of his favorites and it's quite amazing that it still holds together. Gotta love comfy clothes. We were back to the Jeeps by 2:45p with a few more hours of daylight for some easy stuff that all five of us could do.

Little Sugarloaf

This is found just southwest of Chimney Rock. We used the Thunder Mtn TH found at the end of Thunder Mtn Rd. The Lower Chimney Rock Trail takes you to a saddle between the two peaks, and easy cross-country with a tad of scrambling gets you to the top, taking all of about 15min. Views are mostly of the town that nearly surrounds the summit.

Sugarloaf Mountains

This slightly higher summit is about a mile east of Chimney Rock. The Sugarloaf Trailhead is southwest of the summit in a residential area. It appears to be very popular and there was only one spot available. I let TomB take it, and parked my Jeep on the residential street, signed for No Parking On Pavement, which pretty much says the same thing as "No Street Parking" since all the shoulders were lined with large boulders. I took my chances, but left Eric reading his book inside in case the police or a resident wanted it moved. He was left unmolested for the time we were gone. One can follow the trail system all the way to the summit where views are not appreciably different than from Little Sugarloaf. On the way back, we shortcutted the trail in order to get a bit of class 3 downclimbing and a slightly faster way back to the TH. Less than 35min for the roundtrip.

Windmill Mountain

On our way back to our campsite along Loy Butte Rd, I wanted to stop for one last summit, found about a mile east of the road. TomG and Iris were the only ones to join me, an easy 35min of cross-country over grass and cacti slopes, without any of the sandstone that we'd been scrambling upon all day. We reached the summit a few minutes before sunset, finding the only register on the day, a Barbara/Gordon one from 2009. About a dozen parties had signed in before our visit. With the sun lighting up western sky in a final blaze as it left us for the day, we returned to the Jeeps without the need for headlamps. This was pretty much a sunrise to sunset day, and quite enjoyable, too.


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