Summit Block Rock is a mid-sized sandstone tower near Sedona (with a characteristic limestone band 50 feet above its base). On its tallest (SW) face, the tower is about 250 feet tall. On its backside (closest to parent cliff), only 150 feet separate the summit from the notch. One does not realize the free-standing-spire nature of this formation until nearly at its base as it tends to blend in with parent cliff in the background. It is however a free-standing entity. Its name no doubt derives from an impressive looking bulbous summit block.
Present summit elevation is a guesstimate - to be corrected later.
We used the driving/approach directions given in Green’s guidebook. Toula and Bloom give slightly different approach option.
From the junction of AZ highways 89A and 179 in the center of Sedona, take 89A west for about 1.8 miles. Turn right onto Coffee Pot Road at a traffic light. Turn left onto Maxwell House Road in <1 mile. Turn right onto Caswell Drive and make first left in about a block. Shortly after, you should see a FS parking area on your right. Park here (don’t forget the Red Rocks Pass – no self issue station available).
Start out on main trail (trails actually which seem to converge within a few hundred yards) heading north (houses off in the distance on your left). Huge rock cairns. You will soon come to a junction. Head right and shortly thereafter veer leftwards on the main trail. You are going to round a gully (Green calls it an amphitheater) – first the spire (easily recognizable by its bulbous summit block) is off on your right (across the gully) and then the trail turns towards it at the head of the gully. Go off trail keeping to slabs when you see a direct line up towards the SW face of the spire. SW face is the one facing away from the parent cliff and there are two mini spires at its base. Approach is <30 minutes.
Red Rock Pass is required to park at this trailhead ($5/day or monthly and annual rates available). No self issue box available at trailhead. For general Red Rock Pass see here
. For locations (both government and private) see here
When To Climb
Best seasons to climb this formation are no doubt fall and spring. Summers are unbearably hot in the Arizona high desert and winters can be wet though we had very pleasant (upper 60's F) conditions in late December.
Complete list of NFS-operated campgrounds can be found here
We've stayed at the Manzanita Campground (10 minutes north of town on AZ 89A). It was nice (clean, well lit rest rooms) but expensive for a FS Campground at $18/night! Not sure about free camping opportunities around Sedona - the place seems kind of commie (lots of rules).
Try the Red Rock Ranger station at 928-282-4119 though I doubt whether you'll be able to get any climbing specific information.
Routes And Guidebooks Overview(1) Dr. Rubo’s Wild Ride
. Green rates it as II 5.9+ and gives a nice photo topo overlay. Green also gives accurate trailhead and hiking directions. This is the only route on the spire described by Green. Bloom rates it II 5.9 and gives a good topo for the route. Bloom’s trailhead and approach directions are different from what we used so I can’t comment on their accuracy. Toula rates the route at 5.9+ and gives a topo sketch of the route (his book is quite entertaining). His directions are limited to a hand sketch of the area and seem similar to the approach suggested by Bloom. Probably the most popular route on the tower.
(2) Shagging The Doctor
. Bloom rates it at II 5.10 and gives a short description and a topo for it (as well as a photo overlay). Others have nothing on this route.
(3) The Quiet Storm
. Bloom rates it at II 5.10+ and provides a short description and both a sketched and a photo overlayed topos.
(4) Original [Chimney] Route
. Tuola rates it at 5.9 A2 and provides a very brief description on it. Bloom provides a photo overlay of this route but no description or rating.