Baboquivari Sierra Club E Provisional #2

  • Updated: November 30, 2012
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

What: Baboquivari Peak (7,734')
When: November 30th, 2012
Where: Arizona
Who: Matthew Hengst, Neal Robbins, Mat Kelliher, Jack Kieffer, Jen Blackie, Mark Butski, Laurent Hoffman, Jeff Atijera
Pictures: Matt's Flickr  Neal's Pics
GPS Track: Matt's Track

This was to be my second time up Baboquivari after Jack Kieffer, Rudy Fleck, and myself ran down to Arizona last year and had braved 95 degree heat in order climb it along with Kino and Ajo.

This trip was also to be the second of my Sierra Club E Rock provisionals and had originally included a trip to Mexico for Cerro Pinacate followed by the always fun Little Picacho and the awesomely named Stud Mountain.

This ran afoul of Sierra Club policies and so instead we had a one day official trip followed by two unofficial days.  Fair enough.
My carpool left Orange County a bit after 6:30 pm PST.  Due to traffic along the way we didn't actually arrive at Baboquivari Camp (about 500 miles away) until 4 am PST which sadly was 5 am local.  We didn't get a whole lot of sleep.

The occasional amusing street signs were a small consolation.

We planned to climb Baboquivari from the west starting at Baboquivari Camp, a private Indian campground that is pretty lax about permits.  I'd tried for the better part of a week to find someone to pay a fee too with no luck.

They have campsites, fire pits (that a sign at the bathroom says your not supposed to use), and even running water & flush toilets in the bathroom.

We had 8 people across 4 vehicles and everyone was there Friday morning if not completely awake.

I'd trundled over to the bathroom in my usual conservative camp wear and when I emerged (feeling much more relaxed) I promptly scared the daylights out of a pair of guys investigating the voices they'd heard from the campground.

Once I assured them I wasn't an escaped prisoner so much as a hiker with a somewhat questionable fashion sense they became rather friendly.  One of whom had a I'itoi symbol pinned to his shirt and when I asked about my permit difficulties loudly declared we didn't need any f#$%ing permits.  Fair enough.

For the record this is the permit we got the first time.  Note the WAIVER clause at the bottom.

Baboquivari area permit.  Thanks to Harlan for finally tracking one down

After the usual Sierra Club pre trip talk we set off up the trail.  The biggest challenge to taking a group up Babo is actually getting them up the 4k gain you do on approach after which the roped section is relatively simple.

Still, it's all on trail and everyone knows trail miles are almost free.  And as an added bonus since we'd been here before we avoided the inadvertent bushwhack up the first hillside we'd done last time.

The biggest change I noticed from last time was there were large burned areas we had to pass though. 

The trail eventually leads to the base of the Grand Ramp.

You can do some easy 3rd -ish class slab off to the left but sticking to the right keeps things pretty much 2nd class.  I've seen claims on SummitPost of a 4th class crux but never seen it.

You can see holes in the rock and wood remains of the old stairway that used to go up this back when there was still a fire lookout up top.

We had a helicopter buzz the mountain several times at this point getting close enough I waved at the guy hanging out one of the doors.  Oddly enough it was painted camo colors but sure looked like a civilian model vs military.

View from the bottom
From there it was a short bushwhack to the rope up section called the Ladder Pitch.  I thought I heard voices from up above and sure enough we came around the corner to see a group of about our size setting up.

I was actually rather impressed with how quickly the leader got them up.  He tied in to the center of the rope, climbed up to the anchor, then set up two simultaneous belays which let him bring up two people at once on either end of the rope.  Once they were clear they pulled their rope and we got started.

Despite what the DPS guide states you only need a single 60m rope to climb and it's made doubly easy by the fact there's two bolts and a set of hangers up there.

View from the anchor point
Granted there's a small issue around the fact the bolts are both well above the only slightly tricky moves which are maybe 20 ft off the ground.  So you basically do the admittedly fairly simple moves unprotected, get up on some easy ledges, and only then clip into the first bolt.  And then a second bolt.  And then you're up at a set of hangers.

You can see from earlier pictures that there used to be a fairly healthy tree at the top that served as the anchor before the bolts were put in.  Sadly this was another victim of the fire and while it's still there it appears to be dead and wasn't something I really wanted to hang off of.

Neal around the left side of the chock stone
It took a bit to get all 8 people up the pitch and then we proceeded to an easier section called the chock stone gully.  This requires a quick scramble around a (surprise surprise) chock stone   Either side works though the left is a little less sketchy especially going down since the right can result in a bit of a slide down for lichen.

We timed things just about right as we ran into the other group coming down just as we reached the top of the chock stone gully.

A short scramble up fire charred slopes and we were at the summit and it's eclectic cairn covered in offerings.

We had a somewhat long day ahead of us as we had to relocate back towards Ajo that night to be set up for the following day so we didn't spent too long on the summit.

The group waiting to rappel

A bit of care getting around the chock stone and an easy one rope rappel got us down the ledges and from there it was a walk down.

We had a nice stroll down the trail as the sun set.  This gave us a bit of time wearing headlamps which did of course improve my mood.

Once down to the vehicles we loaded up and started driving to the Organ Pipe Family Campground south of Ajo for happy hour and to get ready for the next days planned jaunt in to Mexico.

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