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Capitol Butte South Face aka Thunder Mtn
20 Photosets

mini location map2016-03-05
7 by photographer avatarnikorock28
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Capitol Butte South Face aka Thunder MtnSedona, AZ
Sedona, AZ
Hike & Climb avatar Mar 05 2016
Hike & Climb1.80 Miles 1,702 AEG
Hike & Climb1.80 Miles   2 Hrs   26 Mns   0.74 mph
1,702 ft AEG
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Only one triplog from BobP for the South Face in all 2015. This is too fun a hike/climb for a single triplog for the entire year. Pam and I completed this 4 years ago and I had a failed attempt in 2011, so back I went to tackle this today. The trails immediately around the trailhead are still confusing to me and they had a fence up around the perimeter of the parking area to protect vegetation or something. I started on the Andante Trail, which quickly met up with the Thunder Mountain trail, which I turned right on. Up and down some washes, trying to spot the use trail to head for the first climbing pitch. I eventually spotted a large cairn with some sort of trail heading north, so took that. In and out of the use trail, some bushwhacking, but I generally just kept going up where I could. I couldn't spot the first climbing area, but eventually figured out I was too far east and contoured back west. I came around the cliff bend and noticed the jagged, shiny rocks directly above the first climbing area notch. The climb seemed easy compared to the other two times. On my first failed attempt five years ago, I went too far west after this climb and eventually gave up and turned around.

I generally just headed up where I could and found myself above the viewpoint area, spotting the trail in front of me and beneath me (down to the viewpoint). More of the same, weaving in and out of the steep, scree trail, just focusing on going up. A couple places I had to investigate for some moments to figure out where to go, but eventually found where I could get up. It seems to me that there are two chimneys to negotiate... the first only about 7 feet and the second, more slotty, longer and angled, which seemed much harder from below. I ended up climbing around to the right of that one, but I could have been off route with an easier way up. Fairly straightforward from that point to the saddle and then to the summit.

It was windy up there and I was kind of cold, so I only stuck around for 8 or 9 minutes, then headed down. It was easier to stay on the trail going down and I definitely was not on the same route that I came up for the majority of the hike back. I spotted cairns I didn't notice on the ascent (but I wasn't really looking for cairns on the way up) and this time made it to the viewpoint above the first pitch of climbing. I also found Climb B that Jim described in the hike description and went down that way.

Below the first pitch, I was able to follow the correct trail down to the flat land. It is mostly dirt, scree and loose rocks, but you sometimes have to traverse over some sheet rock. In any event, I can now recognize what chute I have to go up. However, it is still slightly confusing when you depart from the Thunder Mountain trail to get to this chute, as you do have to go through some brushy areas. I must say, and it may be silly, but perhaps the most challenging aspect of this hike was avoiding all the cactus that always seemed to be in the middle of the trail. A couple times I had to put on the skids while descending, and also had to work around precariously located cactus on the ascent. I didn't see anyone else out there, except for a couple near the Thunder Mountain trail and some folks at the parking area. I'll be back again soon.

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