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The Black Mountains in Arizona run for more than 80mi from Hoover Dam & Lake Mead in the north to Interstate 40 in the south. We'd spent the night camped at Sitgreave Pass which crosses the southern part of the range. In the morning we set off a hike to the highpoint of the Nutt Mtn Wilderness, Nutt BM, also a P1K. We covered more than 11mi over the course of 7.5hrs, with about 3,600ft of gain. Our route follows the ridgeline around the east and north sides of the Cottonwood Canyon drainage. It had rained heavily the day before, leaving the ground saturated and the air heavy with moisture, more like the Pacific Northwest than the Southwestern Deserts. The mostly sunny weather today, cool temps and scenic views made for a very enjoyable outing.
Starting from the pass, the first three miles followed a very good use trail marked regularly with rock cairns 1-2ft in height. The terrain is all dark volcanic rock and soils, plenty of vegetation with cholla, agave, creosote, juniper and dozens of other varieties. The trail gave out as we were rounding the first stop of the day, Peak 4,975ft. There are actually two points separated by 0.4mi, the southwestern one only 20ft lower than the northeast point. It is the lower point one sees on the approach and it looks like a tough nut to crack when viewed from the south. Thinking it was the highpoint, we considered climbing up through one of the breaks in the formidable cliffbands, eventually deciding to use the route others have used from the northwest side. It was only after traveling further past the southwest point that we realized we'd almost headed up the wrong point. The northeast point was less daunting and never more than easy class 3. Scott took a more direct route that was a bit harder, easily beating Eric and I to the summit. A register found at the summit comprised a handful of loose pages dating to 2001.
After a short break, we descended back down the NW side of Peak 4,975ft and headed to Nutt BM, about 1.2mi to the northwest. It took about an hour and a quarter at a modest pace to get between the two peaks, arriving just after 10:30a. A quartet of bighorn ewes roosting a few dozen yards below the summit were spooked by our sudden arrival and took off without much deliberation. They were already halfway down the slope before I could get out my camera to snap a picture. Along with the expected benchmark, we found another register, this one dating to 1980. There were quite a few entries between the two notepads, clearly getting more traffic than the first peak. While we took another break here, we discussed adding Nutt Mtn to the agenda. Scott, of course, was gung-ho, but I was looking to see what Eric thought of it. He was feeling pretty good and said he'd be up for it, so off we went when it was time to leave. It would take another hour over mild class 2 terrain to get between the two summits. Clouds obscured the peak on our approach, but they parted nicely while we were at the summit to allow for views. A DPS party had left a register here in 1997, with less than 10 parties signing since then.
There is another significant summit called Battleship Mtn if one continues around to the west side of the drainage. Knowing Scott was very interested in this one too, I encouraged him to continue in that direction while Eric and I retraced our route back the way we came. We parted ways shortly after leaving Nutt Mtn. I thought he would easily beat us back to the highway, but it turns out we were about an hour faster, getting back by 3:20p. We had good cell coverage all day, so were able to communicate easily with Scott while separated. Eric and I showered, enjoyed a beer, chips and salsa while Scott was still making his way down from Battleship Mtn. Seems he had enjoyed climbing a few bonus points and other distractions, in no particular hurry to end his day. I drove down the west side of the pass to pick him up along the highway to save him a few extra miles of hiking back to the pass. Great day all around...
This page last updated: Sat Dec 12 08:42:09 2020
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