Ascent of Humphreys Peak on 2007-06-20

Climber: Jabon Eagar

Others in Party:Ben
Date:Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Humphreys Peak
    Elevation:12633 ft / 3850 m

Ascent Trip Report

Mt. Humphries June 20, 2007 Written by Jabon Eagar

I just got diagnosed with Chronic Lyme Disease and that news has left me with quite mixed feelings. The road to recovery is long and really hard. I am excited to get my health back and do the things I love to do. At roughly 332 months old, I am too young to feel this old.

My good friend Ben flew out here to Arizona as I just moved here from Colorado. My diagnosis looked to interfere with our plans to explore my new home state. We plotted out some attractions in Flagstaff area and loaded the car with everything needed to go repelling, rafting, and hiking. Even with my flu like symptoms, the thought of climbing the tallest mountain in Arizona soon took hold of my common sense. We grabbed lunch and headed to the trail head in the Snow Bowl parking lot.

We geared up and hit the trail head at 12:15pm. The trail starts out flat and cuts across the ski run.

We walked under the lifts and into the dense trees. The forest is dangerous both from the fire stand point and standing/ leaning dead hazards.

The wind causes the dead trees to squeak as they lean on green trees. The trail starts to get a little steep and we signed the registry where the trail splits off for a scenic bypass. We made great time up the switch backs while basking in the lush, green forest sights and smells.

The switch backs get steeper and the trees thin. We noticed the phenomenal view behind us as we had climbed a thousand feet above the parking lot.

A descending climber told us it was an hour and a half from the saddle and we plugged on. I was starting to really feel symptoms and altitude. Ben was trying to pick up the pace and I had to stop frequently.

Breaking tree line at 11,000 feet left us to battle the direct sun. The trail gets quite steep leading up to the saddle and every forward step slips back half the distance in the loose gravel.

We reached the saddle at 11,800 feet and the view was breathtaking with some remaining snow in the shadows. I realized the peak we thought was the goal is a neighboring peak and much shorter. I took a long rest and moved on. The trail becomes quite strenuous as the path is softball sized volcanic rock.

The south face is steep and loose. Getting to the top of the first false summit was met with a grin and we moved on in the tundra. The second false summit was more distracting to me as I was truly exhausted and getting the cold sweats from being ill. The trail follows the ridge line and brought us to the third false summit.

I was actually upset about this trick the mountain played on my mind. As the true summit came into view it looked a long way ahead. In reality there is only about 700 feet more in elevation to climb but I was ready to be there. The trail again follows the ridge and we were very exposed. The footing is loose and the wind made my steps wobbly. One hand on the ball cap and one to steady me, and I tried to close the gap Ben was leaving between us. The home stretch is up the side of the summit cone. I glided up the last steps onto the small summit at 4:15pm.

There are several wind shelters in the shape of a crater and the flies made staying long out of the question. Standing on top of the highest mountain in Arizona is incredible. At 12,633 feet, you can see the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff, and several small mountains (I call them hills in Colorado). The 360 degree view is just phenomenal.

We started back down at 5pm and I realized that I had run out of Gatorade. I made a mistake by bringing anything other than water on such a climb. Luckily Ben had some extra water and could share with me. A lot of my large need for water was the sugar and salt filled Gatorade and I am sure being sick accounted for the rest.

The trek down was quite painful due to slipping on loose rock. Previously Ben and I had learned on a difficult climb to bring our knee braces. My mind kept telling me that the trip down was a lot longer than the trip up probably due to my fatigue. We broke into the ski run clearing as the sun was dropping to a top notch sunset Arizona is famous for.

I accomplished a difficult task when I knew I should be at home in bed recovering. In a way I am following the doc's orders by keeping my spirits up! Mt. Humphries holds a spectacular view and its own unique challenge

Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Scramble
    Weather:Cool, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Start Trailhead:Snow Bowl Parking lot  
    Time:4 Hours 
Descent Statistics

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