Greg Slayden, Greg Keeling and I got stormed off Baboquivari Peak last winter. We turned around in a white-out blizzard after route finding difficulty and scary encounters with verglas. We vowed to return the following year.
Some call it the Matterhorn of the southwest. This time Greg K. couldn't join us but Heather and Jill took his place. On our way back from Picacho del Diablo we stopped at the southern terminus of the PCT which none of us had seen before, except Heather of course.
We got a lat start at the trailhead, like after 10 am. But we made good time getting from the desert floor up to the charred forest just below the start of the scrambling and climbing.
A big diagonal ledge looks fairly intimidating from below. Once you reach it though, you find it's not as exposed as it looks. About half way up you have to friction scramble up some slabs to get to the easier ledge above.
Greg Slayden free solo
The upper ledge is neat and has an overhanging roof. Then we came to the open spot below the upper cliffs. We found our turn around place from the previous year. The technical 5.4 pitch is identified as a grey face surrounded by darker rock. It is unprotectable on lead. Some people call this section 4th class, probably to make themselves feel better about soloing it.
Greg had the best shoes for climbing and offered to lead it and then top-rope us from above. I thought the pitch looked easy enough but when it was my turn to climb, I found that it was not so easy in trail runners.
We all climbed up to the ledge where Greg was belaying off of double chains. From there we followed another vegetated ledge around to an obvious gully. The first move up into the gully was a very tricky slab with an overhang in the way. Above that it was easy scrambling again.
At the top of the gully we found the open slopes leading to the summit. A cairn marked the high point and was covered with spiritual trinkets presumably placed by natives who live on the reservation.
photo by Greg Slayden
photo by Jill Webster
We took only a few minutes on the summit because a storm was visibly coming our way. We made haste back down to the rappel chains and then made haste again to get below the slabs before the rain started.
Heather starts the rappel
Once it began it continued for nearly the entire descent. I was soaked to the core when I reached the car. It was our second time encountering bad weather on Baboquivari, but thankfully we were allowed to reach the summit.
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