Morning Glory Spire P300 RS
Munds Mountain P300
Schnebly Hill P300
Smith Butte P300

Oct 9, 2022

With: Tom Becht
Iris Ma
Tom Grundy
Eric Smith

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPX Profile


Day 3 in Sedona had us all over the map with various types of climbs. We had some scrambling, some rough Jeep driving and more mundane hikes, all with their own charms. It would keep us and our vehicles busy for most of the day.

Morning Glory Spire

This was the highlight of the day and our main objective. It is found north of town, between Soldier Wash and Mormon Canyon. We used the same Jordon Rd TH that we'd used the previous day for The Fin and Brins Butte. Our route followed the Brins Mesa Trail for less than half a mile before we turned off to the east, looking for an unmarked trail. We had some trouble locating it, but with the help of a GPX track we'd gotten off PB, we found it. The trail takes one up to a saddle between Brins Butte to the north and another feature, Cibola Mitten (or simply, The Mitten - 5.9 by the easiest route). We lost the trail before getting to the saddle, but via a few different variations, we all made it to the saddle in less than 30min. There was some discussion as to whether Brins Butte could be scrambled from the south-facing aspect now in view (the easier route is from the north), and though it would make a fine exploratory adventure, we were not to be distracted from Morning Glory Spire this morning and left that as a future exercise.

The use trail ends here (it probably exists to service the climbing route on The Mitten), but the cross-country travel traversing the north side of The Mitten is not difficult. Our route took us to another saddle between MGS and The Mitten, then onto the northeast side of MGS where we picked up a use trail ascending up through forest on that side. The trail soon leads to the first of two class 4 sections. The first is a short, but steep bulge that needs to be surmounted. There are two ways to do this, either with a beefy pull that TomG did right off the bat, or a tree-assisted alternate that isn't a whole lot easier. Four of us had gotten past this with TomB the last to go. I got a photo of him attempting the beefy pull only seconds before he crashed to the deck, followed by some choice swearing. To help out, I tossed down the end of a long piece of webbing I was carrying and secured the upper end to a bush. Using the lower end as a handline, Tom was then able to get by the bulge and join us above. A short bit of airy scrambling then led to the second class 4 section, a slanting chimney to get up a slabbly 15-foot headwall. TomG went up and tossed down a rope to secure those of us that wanted it. We all went up in turn, then more class 3 scrambling to the summit block which is small and airy, with a step-across to keep things interesting (inexplicably, there is an Hawaii plate found in the gap below the step-across) - about an hour and a half to get us all up to the top. An ammo box serves as register/geocache with about 7 pages of entries. A fine summit, this one. On our return, most of us rapped down the first class 4 pitch and used a handline for the lower one, TomG soloing both so that we didn't have to leave any slings or gear. Once we returned to the saddle with The Mitten, TomG and I both got the idea for an alternate return by heading south off the saddle. TomB chose to join us while the other two went back the way we'd come over the first saddle. The alternate proved a fun diversion, initially down some sandstone slabs, then down a dry creek channel, and eventually onto the Cibola Pass Trail that would take us back east to the TH where we'd started. We got back just about the same time as Eric and Iris, finishing up shortly after 10a.

Munds Mountain

Eric was interested in Wilderness highpoints while Tom was interested is some Jeeping opportunities, and this one fit the bill nicely for both. The Munds Mtn Wilderness is found SE of Sedona, its highpoint at the summit of Munds Mtn. Schnebly Hill Rd is a very rough, very long OHV/Jeep route climbing east up Bear Wallow Canyon. The road is very popular for Jeep tours run by local businesses. It took us well over an hour in two Jeeps to cover about 10mi of the road to reach a junction with Forest Road 153A which can be followed south to get within a mile of the summit. The TH is old and in a state of disrepair, but the trail that leads up to Munds Mtn is quite serviceable. The trail starts atop the Schnebly Hill plateau, first dropping to a saddle before climbing up the NE side of the detached Munds Mtn on a series of switchbacks. The trail follows through forest before emerging on the broad summit area. There is no identifiable highpoint among the mix of grass, rocks and trees spread about the summit where we spent far too long wandering about in hopes of finding a register or some other evidence at the spot elevation location. In the end, we left one of our registers at one of the many small rock outcrops that others will likely have trouble finding, same as us.

Schnebly Hill

Back at the Jeeps, it was now after noon, and time to examine the beer selection in TomB's fridge. This would be useful for more Jeep driving over the next hour as we made our way from the Munds Mtn TH to the highpoint of Schnebly Hill via a series of OHV roads found over this broad, forested plateau. The actual hike to the highpoint was something less than a quarter mile, flat and entirely uninteresting, save for the opportunity to get out and stretch one's legs. We found an Andy Martin register from 2012, with a slightly better notepad provided by Mark Adrian in 2018.

Smith Butte

No one wanted to drive back down Schnebly Hill Rd, as there were two longer, but easier alternatives to get us back to Sedona. We chose the one heading north on Interstate 17 as it would allow us to tag this last summit, which as Eric's namesake, we simply had to visit. Forest Rd 253 gets one to a saddle on the north side of the summit, and a rough spur road takes one about halfway up Smith Butte on that side. A use trail through forest gets one to the summit in all of ten minutes. The otherwise uninteresting summit with no views has a benchmark and a busy register. We were back to the Jeeps soon after 3:30p, ready for the hour-long drive back to Sedona and our campsite...


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