Elephant Head Santa Rita Mountains West Gully Attempt

  • Updated: December 29, 2013
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

December 29th, 2013
Elephant Head (5,640')

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

We stayed in a campground outside of town the night before and drove in for an early start on Elephant. 

The bottom part was slabs which grew increasingly steep.

At about 4,480' we decided it was time to break out the rope.

Blondie getting off track

At one point we found an old cable leading up the rock.  After some debate we decided not to trust it and led the next bit on our own.

And this turned out to be a good call.  Behold what it was attached to up top.  (I use the word attached very loosely.)

Up higher things grew increasingly awkward and I started to doubt we were on the correct route based on how it had been described.  However, since we were only a few hundred feet short of the summit we decided to push on hoping we could make something work.

The next section felt really sketchy to Jeff and I though Jen insisted it was fine.

We ended up in a narrow slot with a fun chimney at the head.  Unfortunately once we made it up that we found we were at a dead end.  We looked around but any alternatives were several hundred feet below us and with only 3 hours of daylight left that meant we were skunked.

Partway down I figured out where we had gone wrong.  At one point the gully split and we went right instead of left.  I could actually see what looked like more of that cabling up the other direction.  Sadly it was too late to do anything but continue down.

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