Finger Rock North of Tucson

December 30th, 2013
Finger Rock (6,475')
8.6 miles, 4,000'

This was the 4th day of an extended New Years 2014 Trip out to the Tucson area. We'd spent all day underground in Crystal Cave, used Peppersauce Cave as a recovery day, attempted Elephant Head, and then Finger Rock before planning to finish with Cave of the Bells. And we probably would have done that one if wasn't for a slight animal encounter the last night.

Finger Rock is the tiny spindle in the picture above.  It's not usually the sort of peak I go for but had the reputation for being a fun 5.6-5.8 climb with a relatively short approach.  This meant we could run into town and pick up the cave permit we needed in the morning.

Elephant Head Santa Rita Mountains West Gully Attempt

December 29th, 2013
Elephant Head (5,640')
[Pics] [Map]

This was the 3rd day of an extended New Years 2014 trip out to the Tucson area. We'd spent a day underground in Crystal Cave, used Peppersauce Cave as a recovery day, and now we were attempting Elephant Head.

Elephant Head is a large rock outside Tucson which promises 5.6 and below climbing for 1,000 ft

Peppersauce Cave Arizona

December 28th, 2013

This was the second event in an extended New Years trip out to Tucson.  We did Crystal Cave, used Peppersauce Cave as a recovery day, climbed Elephant Head, and then Finger Rock before planning to finish with Cave of the Bells.  And we probably would have done that one if wasn't for a slight animal encounter the last night.

Peppersauce wasn't as big of a draw as Crystal or Bells but it fit in well as a partial day.  We'd been warned by some of Jen's friends that this place wasn't exactly pristine but my god did they understate that.  If you wonder why they put those gates on some of the other caves just take a look at this place.

Crawling Around Chiricahua Crystal Cave In Arizona

December 27th, 2013
Chiricahua Crystal Cave
[PicsM] [PicsJ] [Map]

Wheeeeeeee!  The previous day had been a mad dash flying back from Sacramento where I'd spent Christmas with my parents only to stay in Orange County just long enough to throw all my climbing gear into the jeep and take off east with Jeff and Jen reaching Tucson late that night.

A long long drive later we found ourselves driving down a slightly less remote dirt road that I generally prefer in order to find a quiet -ish place to bivy for the night.  We settled down amid the scattered debris and passed out.

The only reason we were camped this close to a major city was because the following morning we were picking up a key for Crystal Cave which would kick off 5 days, 3 caves, 2 5th class peaks, and a fair amount of driving.  Throw in a middle of nowhere speeding ticket, a technical peak bailout, and one skunk attack to the face while sleeping (yes skunk and yes to the FACE), and we were in for a suitably eventful few days.

Garmin 650 Followup Review

My initial look at the 650 was positive but I had a few concerns.  This follow-up is both to address those and share what I think the actual strengths and weaknesses of the device after having spent a few hundred miles hiking with the device.

I have the Oregon 650 but most of the items below apply to the entire 600 series.  The Oregon 600 has less memory, lacks a mediocre camera, and doesn’t come with the rechargeable battery pack the 650 gives you.  The Oregon 600t and Oregon 650t are the same as the base unit but include a chip with maps preloaded.  I opt for buying the Garmin 24k topo maps and loading them by hand since the chips only have 100k maps.

The Oregon 450 is an inferior unit and I wouldn’t recommend anyone get it.  The money you save isn’t worth how much slower the unit is moving around on maps and how frustrating the touch screen is.

A Snowy Visit to Leviathan Cave in the Worthington Mountains

December 14th, 2013
Leviathan Cave, Basin and Range National Monument
[PicsMatt] [PicsRon] [Map]

While I spend a good portion of my time running up and down peaks I have a fascination with caves and mines that I don't get to exercise very often.

So when I happened across this trip report mentioning a rather neat cave requiring a 30 ft rappel / rope ascent sitting on the side of a 3rd/4th class peak in Nevada it was something I was eager to make happen.

As of 2015 this is now a part of the newly created Basin & Range National Monument.

Mount Tipton DPS

  Mount Tipton (7,148')
When: December 2nd, 2013
Where: Near Kingman Arizona
Who: Matthew Hengst, Kristen Lindbergh
Pictures: [Matt]
GPS Track: [Map]

This was the 6th and final day of the 2013 Turktacular and rather than bum around Sedona for part of the day I wanted to grab a peak a little closer to home.

Tipton is in the northwestern corner of Arizona just north of Kingman but close enough to the California border where the drive home after was reasonable.  Also unlike many of the peaks on the DPS list there isn't anything obvious nearby to combine it with if you want to drive out there for the entire weekend.  (I've seen it listed with Spirit but I'd already done that with McCullough for last years Mustache Mosey)