Ascent of Whitewater Baldy on 2018-07-27

Climber: Phil Robinson

Others in Party:Just me
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Friday, July 27, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Whitewater Baldy
    Location:USA-New Mexico
    Elevation:10895 ft / 3320 m

Ascent Trip Report

There are lots of reasons people hike Whitewater Baldy, Elevation 10,895. Besides hiking it just for fun, it is the highest peak in southwestern New Mexico, a county high point, a wilderness high point, it is in the top ten highest prominence peaks, and highest 100 peaks in New Mexico with a 300-foot prominence or above. The latter is why I hiked the peak. The top 100 peaks will take peakbaggers all over New Mexico!

I knew that I had a long drive ahead so I got up at 3:00 AM, July 27, 2018, and left the house at 3:45. It took me about 5 hours of driving from the Albuquerque area, with some stops for gas. It was 10 hours of round trip driving. I am glad I brought a pillow to sit on. At the end of the day my rear-end was the most worn-out! I took Highway 60 west from Socorro watching the moon set and the sun come up. In the town of Datil I went southwest on Highway 12. I enjoyed seeing the rich green mountain filled beauty of southwestern New Mexico. After reaching Highway 180, I drove about 27 miles south to Highway 159 then went west. The road is nicely paved for about 5 miles then becomes a twisted narrow one-lane road into the old ghost town of Mogollon. A previous trip report said that the road was poor through Mogollon because of a flash flood. This has been repaired. The road becomes dirt at the edge of town until I parked at Sandy Point. A high clearance vehicle or 4WD is needed on the last stretch of the road. It is a 17 mile drive from Highway 180.

I started hiking Crest Trail 182 at 8:50 AM under mostly clear skies. The starting elevation was 9077 feet. The temperature was mild, a little warm under the sun. I signed the trip registry and was soon in the Gila Wilderness. Interestingly, in 1924 the Gila was designated the first wilderness area in the United States. With so many beautiful places in the country I wonder why this was chosen first? In May of 2012 there was a massive forest fire in the area, caused by lightening, burning over a quarter million acres. The hike is beautiful, but one can see the devastation caused by that fire. Six years latter the land is coming back with rich green grass mixed with wildflowers and a new crop of small aspen filling the old forest. The old forest was aspen, blue spruce, and fur. Because the trail is so popular logs have been cut to maintain the trail. I only stepped over 2 trees. (Thanks to those cutting logs to make the trail passable!) If it were not for the trail clearing it would be a torturous hike! There were a few patches of forest that escaped the forest fire but for the most part it is burned out from one end to the other with nice distant views here and there. At Hummingbird Saddle, about a half mile from the peak, I left the trail and went up the north facing ridge. It was a fair chug, but not too overly taxing. I had to do some bushwhacking and went over a number of logs. I arrived at the top at 12:10 PM after hiking 3 hours and 20 minutes. This included lots of standing picture stops. The total distance was 5.8 miles with an elevation gain of 1989 feet. There were some nice views to the south. The peak is not bald and there is no whitewater. Give it 100 years after the 2012 forest fire and it will be bald. I signed the trip log in a little black plastic jar. I took a picture of a horny toad that was right on the very top. After about 20 minutes I headed back. These are volcanic mountains with black and a little red scoria all along the way. The clouds were beginning to cover the sky. In my preplanning I thought about hiking Willow Mountain on the way back, but it would have been a very difficult hike with all the downed logs and bushwhacking for a peak that I was not really interested in hiking. With about 2 miles left on the hike I saw a black bear. I watched and took some pictures. The bear was not too far away from the trail and I was a little concerned about going too close on the way out, but it saw me and meandered on. I saw lots of signs of deer and elk, and did see any. I did see some on the drive up and back. The last mile it rained a little. For those needing water, this is a ridge hike and I did not see any water along the way. Maps show that there are some springs along the trail, but I did not investigate. I arrived back after hiking 2 hour and 55 minute from the peak top, 6 hours and 30 minutes from the start. I hiked 11.4 miles. It was 3:20 PM. The total up-down elevation gain was 2228 feet. It was a beautiful drive home watching black clouds massively drop in small areas as though a garden hose had been turned on a bug. At one point a wall of water dropped on me as I was driving and I could see nothing. I did some heavy praying in the “black out” and my Land Cruiser stalled. This has never happened before. I pulled over and waited a few minutes. The rain dumping stopped, the SUV dried out, then started up. I continued home watching the splendid display of the sky opening up in sections, and pounding the earth with sheets of water. As the sun set the pockets of dumping rain was beautifully illuminated by the setting sun. (14 more to go)

See almost 1500 NM peak pictures....
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2228 ft / 678 m
    Total Elevation Loss:410 ft / 124 m
    Round-Trip Distance:11.4 mi / 18.3 km
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1989 ft / 606 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 1818 ft / 554 m; Extra: 171 ft / 52m
    Loss on way in:171 ft / 52 m
    Distance:5.8 mi / 9.3 km
    Route:Crest Trail 182 along ridge
    Start Trailhead:Sandy Point  9077 ft / 2766 m
    Time:3 Hours 20 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:239 ft / 72 m
    Gain on way out:239 ft / 72 m
    Distance:5.6 mi / 9 km
    Route:From Peak followed Trail 182 along ridge
    End Trailhead:Sandy Point  
    Time:2 Hours 55 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Phil Robinson
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

This page has been served 421 times since 2005-01-15.

Copyright © 1987-2020 by All Rights Reserved. Questions/Comments/Corrections? See the Contact Page Terms of Service