Ascent of Mount Graham on 2019-11-16

Climber: Bradley Reese

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, November 16, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Graham
    Elevation:10720 ft / 3267 m

Ascent Trip Report

Why I chose this peak: Another Ultra

The plan:
I was on a trip in southern AZ to hike Lemmon, Chiricahua, and Graham on consecutive days. I would fly home the next morning.

For the hike I would leave my hotel in Wilcox Saturday morning and park near the closed gate at Shannon Campground. I found mixed information on where the road would be gated. SummitPost indicated it would be closed at Arcadia Campground between November 15th and April 15th much further down the mountain I found several trip reports indicating the gate is closed at Shannon Campground instead, and my experience is there's a sign stating the "Road is closed in 20 miles from November 15th and April 15th" this sign is located 20 miles from Shannon, and on November 16th I made it to Shannon. Once at the gate I planned to hike up the road to Mount Graham. On the return hike at about the halfway point I planned to cut off the road onto the Big Creek Trail connecting to W Swift Rd. and take it back to my car. The road up Mount Graham splits off W Swift Trail right at the gate. I followed this in reverse, and really couldn't really follow Big Creek Trail.

I placed Shannon Campground, Safford, AZ into Google Maps. This took me to the gate.

The hike:
I had it in my head the main road (W Swift Rd) went to the top of Mount Graham, so this is how I started. When I continued down hill for a good bit I started questioning it and realized I was on my route down, rather than my route up. Instead of turning around I decided to just reverse my route. I stay on this road for more or less a mile. There's not much to see. My focus is on the sound of a couple of chainsaws. I'm trying to determine where they're coming from, but am unable to at this point. I reach the point where I'm supposed to cut off the road, immediately after a large drainage. I don't see a clear trail. In the woods, nearly hidden is a sign stating no motorized vehicles, but no trail name or indicator. I do leave the road here after losing 150'. (1 mile total)

Off the road I can't seem to find the trail. I follow my GPS, which takes me right up, or next to the drainage. Finally I'm sick of looking at my GPS, and decide to just follow the drainage. I'm walking through an open forest that's easy to maneuver, but quite steep in placed. Eventually I recheck my GPS and am way of route. I decide I'll just continue uphill via the path of least resistance. Soon after this I run into an old road bed. This makes the going a bit easier, but eventually ends. I continue going uphill and eventually run into another unused road bed, with quite a bit of growth taking it over. Throughout this section I'm seeing quite a few of what I now think are Abert's Squirrel. This road is not the trail, but is marked with pink ribbon and easy to follow. It eventually meets the trail, another old road bed which I take to the gravel road up Mount Graham. This section lasted 1.3 miles and gained 850' (2.3 miles total)

Now back on the road I'm able to pick up my pace. Earlier the sky had been partly cloudy, it's now turned to mostly cloudy, and I'm a bit concerned it could start raining. As I get close to the peak the road gets steeper, and I can tell my body is still fatigued from travel and this third day of hiking. As I climb higher I begin to get views in several directions and, after the road splits and I continue toward Graham, eventually see the "Box", which I guess is the "Large Binocular Telescope Observatory". This is really a pretty large object. I continue around till the road is no longer easy to follow and cross dead-fall until I reach a notch that raises up to be the high point. This section lasted about 2.5 miles and gained another 850'. At the top I took a break to eat some snacks and fly my drone. As soon as I put up my drone the clouds to the west of the mountain disappear. Hiking out is mostly sunny. (4.8 miles)

I hike out remaining on the road up (now down I guess) Mount graham for the entirety. Nothing special along the way. about 1-2/3 miles from the car is a sign that states the road is only for use by those approved. I had considered adding Heliograph Peak to the hike, but by this point I'm happy to be done. Staying on the road for the entirety of hike out it lasts 4.85 miles and loses 1000'. (9.65 miles total)

On the drive out I see several roadrunners, something I'm not accustomed to seeing. The flights home, the next day, go great. This was a relief after the flights in (described in Mount Lemmon).

Overall this was a very good trip, I managed to get all of my planned hikes in, despite the later than planned arrival.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1747 ft / 532 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1747 ft / 531 m
    Round-Trip Distance:9.7 mi / 15.5 km
    Quality:2 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1727 ft / 526 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 1557 ft / 475 m; Extra: 170 ft / 51m
    Loss on way in:170 ft / 51 m
    Distance:4.8 mi / 7.7 km
    Route:W Swift Rd>Big Creek Trail/Bushwhack>Mount Graham
    Start Trailhead:W Swift Rd  9163 ft / 2792 m
    Time:2 Hours 21 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1577 ft / 480 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 1557 ft / 475 m; Extra: 20 ft / 6m
    Gain on way out:20 ft / 6 m
    Distance:4.9 mi / 7.9 km
    Route:Mount Graham Rd.
    End Trailhead:9163 ft / 2792 m
    Time:1 Hours 58 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Bradley Reese
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

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