Type: Trad, 300 ft, 4 pitches
FA: Derek Field, Dave Spies (March 2017)
Page Views: 1,126 total · 44/month
Shared By: Derek Field on Apr 10, 2017
Admins: Luke Bertelsen, JJ Schlick, Greg Opland

You & This Route

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Airborne Sage is a new multipitch route up the most prominent prow on the west face of Crown Butte. It takes a direct natural line, passing through the Sage Chimney and as other unique features, and tops out below the summit. Comfortable, scenic belay ledges separate short, action-packed pitches with variable rock quality. For mega value it can be linked into two pitches by strong parties. This is a diverse route, unique because parallel-walled cracks in pretty much every size (fingertips through chimney) appear throughout the journey. There's still a wee bit of loose rock - especially on the first pitch (yikes) - but its part of the overall Sandona adventure, isn't it? Enjoy!

Pitch 1: The bottom half of this pitch is sort of an entrance fee for the route. See photos for the starting location. Meander up a shallow, mossy corner (sparse pro for 20 feet), aiming for an ugly flared groove. Stem/jam through the funkness to gain a nice handcrack that takes you up over a bulge and to a stance. Continue straight up a steep off-fingers dihedral on the arete, then work through a blocky wide section to a memorable belay seat with a two-bolt chain anchor. (5.9, 80 feet)

Pitch 2: Scale the golden splitter offwidth and pull the roof on its left side. Take a breather and plug some gear deep in the alcove (long slings) before casting off on a steep traverse up and right along sandy diagonals - this part is easier than it appears, but definitely a little heads-up. This leads into a spacious belay alcove with a two-bolt chain anchor at the entrance to the corridor. (5.10, 70 feet)

Pitch 3: Move the belay to the back of the corridor. Enjoy 3D stemming between the pillar and two main walls with finger cracks too. Surmount the pillar and make an awkward entrance into the Sage Chimney. Three bolts protect a wild, airy line on the edge of the smooth, featureless chasm. Belay from the two bolt chain anchor at the top of the chimney. (5.9, 70 feet)

Pitch 4: Lean across to the main wall and clip a bolt. Don't forget the photo op before cranking up the splitter fingercrack. Past a gritty ledge, it opens into twin handcracks. Settle into a seated belay at a two-bolt chain anchor on the outside of the formation with a sweet view. (5.10, 50 feet)

The final belay anchor was placed to provide a worthy "summit view". If a true peak is what you desire, the actual summit of Crown Butte is reached by 200 feet of loose class-4 scrambling. There is a slung tree (cordalette placed April 2017) that can be used to rappel back down this section.

Rappel the route with a single 60m rope. Note that the Sage Chimney rap station can be bypassed with a 70m rope.


Direct line up the west face of Crown Butte. See formation page for approach description. See photos for identifying the start of the route.


Single rack from purple (#0) metolius to green (#6) camalot
Single 60m rope
All bolted belays
Dave Spies
Sedona, AZ
Dave Spies   Sedona, AZ
We got hit by a windy thunder hail storm during the first ascent. As I squeezed up the chimney a piece of sage brush kept swirling around my head (airborne sage). A cleansing moment as I smudged my way out of the darkness. Apr 16, 2017
Tempe, AZ
TravKlein   Tempe, AZ
Super fun outting! Thought the crux of the route was clearing the roof on pitch 2 out left. Brought a #6 and glad we did. I even leap frogged it around a #5 so technically I placed it twice on pitch 2. Leave the 6 and 4 behind after that and take the 5 to protect the entrance into the sage chimney. Bolted belays, super protectable, great rock, and varied climbing. The pitches are a bit shorter but link them if that’s an issue for you. Also the approach is straight forward. Feb 11, 2018