The last day of a long AZ roadtrip found me camped in the Black Mtns on the
western edge of the state, between Kingman and the Colorado River. It was
expected to be in the 80s today at these lower elevations, so I planned to rise
early, do a trio of nearby peaks, then head for home. For all three, I was
able to park within half a mile of the summit, making short work of them and
finishing before 9a.
The northernmost of the three, Peak 3,346ft lies about 2mi north of SR68. A BLM
road forks off the old Hwy 68, running north across a saddle between Peak
3,346ft and Sugarloaf Peak (not to be confused with Sugarloaf Mtn) that
I had climbed the previous evening. I parked at this saddle and spent all of
16min to climb the easy class 2 slopes to the summit. Not finding a
register, I left one that I was carrying with me before returning via a
minor variation of the ascent route. I was back to the Jeep before sunrise.
This one is named on the topo map and lies a mile south of the first summit. I
parked in the wash to the southeast of the peak and went up and
down from there in less than 40min. The slopes were steeper than the
first peak and took more effort, but still class 2. Mark Adrian had left
a register here back in February, mine making the second entry.
Barbara and Gordon had reported climbing it in 1993, and I had hoped to find
one of their registers, but alas, no.
This unnamed beauty is found just south of SR68, about a mile SE of Sugarloaf
Mtn. Duane Nelson had the only TR available on this summit, describing a low
fifth class summit block. I parked off the highway NW of the summit and went
up easy terrain from there, finding the hardest part was getting past
the highway fence. The summit block was much as described,
though I didn't think it warranted a 5th class rating. I used
the crack with a chockstone that Duane described, finding the holds
solid and class 3. After clambering up the crack and reaching
the summit, I dislodged a loose rock sitting awkwardly just below
the highest point. I watched it tumble down, take a short bounce in the air,
and come squarely down on the chockstone found about halfway up the crack. The
impact dislodged the chockstone and sent down a spray of rock, gravel and dust.
I was quick to realized the descent might not be as easy as the ascent which
relied heavily on the chockstone for holds. I looked around from the open
summit, noting a bunch of interesting volcanic plugs that characterize this
part of the range. Most impressive was the slender Thumb Butte about a
mile to the southwest. This area will have to get more of my attention in the
future. I left a register at the summit before beginning my dismount. I'll admit
I was a bit nervous, wondering if I could get stuck without a way to get down.
I'm happy to report that with careful attention and moving slowly and
cautiously, I managed to get down the crack without mishap. But I would
now give it a class 4 rating. The dislodging of the chockstone left a lot of
loose debris, so others should probably exercise similar caution.
It was not yet 8:45a when I returned to the Jeep.
I probably could have found
some other similar summits to go after in the larger area, but it seemed a good
time for a quick shower and then about 9hrs of driving to get home. I would
make it back to San Jose just after sunset, one of my longer driving days with
more than 500mi behind the wheel...