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Routes in Nirvana Buttress

Nirvana T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Type: Trad, 240 ft, 3 pitches
FA: Derek Field, Patrick Weiss, Miranda Perrone, Emma Lodes (2016)
Page Views: 2,259 total · 168/month
Shared By: Derek Field on Feb 10, 2017
Admins: Greg Opland, Luke Bertelsen, JJ Schlick

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Nirvana is a new multipitch route that climbs the edge of a prominent fin/buttress to an outstanding position high above Boynton Canyon. Though not overly long, it is fairly sustained at the .7/.8 grade. All pitches are clean, with notably good rock quality for the area. Those who enjoy vortex tunnels, power laybacking and airy slab climbing will delight in this journey.

The first ascent was done ground-up with a hand-drill (no hooks), placing only four of the protection bolts present today, not counting anchor stations. The rest of the bolts were added retroactively for the safe enjoyment of future generations.

Approach (45-60 minutes): Follow directions to Mystery Spire. From the notch/gully just north of Mystery Spire, hike 10-15 minutes northward along a broad slickrock shelf, keeping tucked up against the cliffs where possible, crossing a deep jungle gully, and eventually coming to the toe of the buttress. There is a faint trail for all of this; pay special attention to it when crossing the jungle gully. The buttress is identified by a large vegetated ledge 100 feet up - the Junipine Ledge. The climb starts there; the first pitch is the right-facing corner above.

From the toe, wrap around to the shaded north side of the buttress and scramble diagonal-left up 3rd-class slabs, using the gully as a guide. Stop at the distinct white-lavender limestone band about 100 vertical feet up. This layer is the gateway to Junipine Ledge on the other side of the buttress. Turn right and carefully walk the skinny ledge until it peters out. When you can walk no further, a tunnel miraculously presents itself in the rock wall at your feet. Get down on your belly and squirm army-style through the vortex tunnel, plopping out safely onto Junipine Ledge. One juniper, one pine; five-star bivy site. Meditate on the view of Boynton Canyon, then turn and look up... you are now below the first pitch corner.

Note: Recommended to shuttle backpacks/gear through the tunnel with one person on either end.


Pitch 1: Emerging from the vortex tunnel, you are reincarnated as a rock climber. Layback or jam a scriptural chunk of sandstone to a two-bolt belay in the scoops. (5.8, 80 feet, single rack to 5")

Pitch 2: Follow bolts trending into a shallow dihedral before mounting a small platform on the broad arete. Step out over the void and scale the sculpted slab, pulling a final crimp ladder to a two-bolt belay on a deluxe vista ledge. Don't forget to place the directional 2-3" cam for your follower at the back of the ledge before walking over to the anchors. (5.9, 90 feet, 6 bolts, single 2-3" cam)

Pitch 3: Head up a steepening right-leaning ramp and launch over the height-dependent crux bulge. Continue up low-angle rollover slabs to a big ledge with sturdy pine tree anchor. After belaying your party up, untie and scramble 20 feet to Nirvana. (5.9, 70 feet, 3 bolts)

The climb tops out on a huge slickrock dancefloor with superb views of Boynton Canyon and the distant Verde Valley. From here it is possible, if so desired, to scramble a couple hundred feet to the white-capped summit of Peak 5634. An incredible perspective of the Seven Canyons awaits.

Rappel the route with a single 60m rope. To avoid going back through the Vortex Tunnel, rappel 100 feet from Junipine Ledge using the cordelette anchor on the juniper.


Direct route up Nirvana Buttress. See photos.

Please do not disturb any ruins that you may come across.


Single rack to 4"
  • optional #5 cam
6 quickdraws
Single 60m rope
Dave Spies
Sedona, AZ
Dave Spies   Sedona, AZ
Super fun route. Lots of great winter sun, clean rock, unique approach tunnel, and a fun 3rd class scramble to the summit for a world class view. What's not to like. Go Climb it! Feb 11, 2017
Benn Lewenstein  
Ditto dave. Crawling through the tunnel, turn around to a beautiful open book. Feb 21, 2017
Giselle F
Giselle F  
The entire route is scenic, memorable, and lots of fun. Oh, that first pitch! Such a classic layback with hidden little ledges when you need to take a breather! As a shortie climber, the crux of each pitch forces me to get creative. For that reason, the crux sections are the most rewarding! Mar 7, 2017
How crucial is the #5 on the first pitch? Dec 6, 2017
Derek Field
Flagstaff, AZ
Derek Field   Flagstaff, AZ
@Michael Cammarata: The #5 is nice to have, but not overly crucial. Plenty of folks get by without it. Dec 7, 2017

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