When you’re driving down south from Flagstaff on I-17, the north-south Interstate Highway located entirely within Arizona and also known as the Arizona Veterans Highway, as you start down the long hill between the Rocky Park Road and Stoneman Lake Road exits, you cannot not notice a very prominent sandstone tower on your right-hand side.
At 350 feet tall, Oak Creek Spire is one of the most prominent sandstone towers near Sedona. The huge desert spire is a classic double-summited Sedona spire with a rabbit-ears profile.
The OCS is an exciting challenge for rock climbers because of the (in)famous “jump move” on the lead of the third pitch, where they have to leap across a gap between the spire’s ears to a small stance on the far side. The nearly six-foot jump-across move on Oak Creek Spire has some inherent risk, as it is impossible to protect either the leader or the second against a hard landing if the jump is misjudged.
On October 6, at approximately 3 p.m., the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call from a climber who stated she had broken her leg and was hanging in her harness on the last pitch of Oak Creek Spire.
Acrophobia is defined as a fear of heights and about one in three people say they experience some discomfort or distress when exposed to heights. I guess I’m one of those one in three and therefore, obvioulsy I’m no rock climber. However, when hiking Courthouse Butte Loop Trail, a 3.9 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located between the Village of Oak Creek and Sedona’s Chapel Area, I always noticed the tall sandstone monolith in the east and felt a strong desire to visit. Today, weather and wind conditions were finally right to take a very close look at this infamous desert spire.