Ascent of Black Mountain on 2020-10-10

Climber: Phil Robinson

Others in Party:Jason
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, October 10, 2020
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Black Mountain
    Location:USA-New Mexico
    Elevation:10875 ft / 3314 m

Ascent Trip Report

I am an Eagle Scout through Troop 166. I was part of the troop from 1966 until 1972. I thought Philmont Scout Ranch would let me hike the peaks on their land because I was an alumnus. I tried for about 10 years asking if I could volunteer to work for them or asking if there were any other way. The answer was, “No,” not unless I was part of the organization. I asked my old scout troop if I could join, telling them I was mostly doing it to hike the peaks, but also willing to volunteer in small capacities and maybe be an educator and inspiration to some of the scouts. They were happy for me to be part of the troop. One year ago I joined as a Unit Scouter Reserve. The troop has used me in small ways, mostly to be part of Eagle Board of Reviews. I waited for an opportunity to hike the peaks and maybe inspire some of the boys into peakbagging and backpacking. I was asked to organize a backpacking trip and told that the scouts were very new to backpacking and that it should be something mild. I contacted Philmont and they told me about their Autumn Adventure. Troops can set their itinerary any way they wish. I wanted the backpacking to be short, so my plan was to only hike 2 miles with full backpacks. At first it looked like we did not have enough people for the trip. I was ready to cancel. All of the sudden we had 6 of us going, 7 counting our Philmont guide. I was excited to go to Philmont, having never been there before. (My parents gave me a choice, either to go to the 1969 National Jamboree in Idaho or go to Philmont, and because I had camped so many times in New Mexico, I chose the National Jamboree. They landed on the moon for the first time while I was at the Jamboree.)

Day 1 - We met in Albuquerque at 7:00 AM October 9, 2020 and arrived at the Philmont headquarters at 10:30. They gave us a med check because we were in the middle of the COVID-19 epidemic and we all checked out well. We paid $148 each for the 2 night trip. We met our guide Mitch, they had lunch for us, and we were off on an hour long 4WD drive trip to our drop off point. Philmont ranch was beautiful with many aspen showing their golden colors. Rarely on peakbagging adventures do we start off going downhill. They dropped us off at an elevation of 9740 and we hiked approximately 2 miles downhill to Black Mountain Camp. The camp was at an elevation of 8966 feet. The camp was in a beautiful meadow surrounded by forests of aspen, spruce, and fur. There were some old rustic cabins used for storage. There was a little stream that was at the edge of camp. The camp was near some civil war activity. At times they use the camp for civil war reenactments, allowing the scouts to shoot some powder loaded rifles. Our group did not do that. We had a great guide who was a wonderful encouragement on the trip. He had a campfire going for us, carried in a heavy cast-iron Dutch oven, and made very deep dish pizza for dinner. After dinner we had a challenge getting the bear bags on a very high wire, and then we went back to camp and enjoyed the evening together around the campfire. It was a beautiful evening with a temperature in the mid 40s. The Milky Way could be seen overhead as we looked up in the narrow canyon. We went to bed early in anticipation of getting * Black Mountain and maybe 4 other peaks. (*Note: There are 4 or more Black Mountains in New Mexico. This is probably the toughest and 2nd highest in elevation.)

Day 2 - We got up at the first hint of twilight, 6:00 AM. The temperature was 36 degrees. We hoped to leave at 7:00 but did not get out until 7:50. Our Troop 166 Autumn Adventure crew was; 2 assistant scout masters, Jason and Jerry, Jerry’s son Brady, troop merit badge counselor Beverly and her son Chris, our guide Mitch, and I. We crossed the little stream and headed up the mountain. It was a beautiful morning with clear blue skies. It was a steep climb up the mountain. The trail was overall pretty good. Most of our group was new to peakbagging so it was a slow climb to the top. We stopped for a trail breakfast about 30 minutes into our hike then continued on. The 2 young scouts in our group did very well. There are 2 designated tops to the peak, one with a metal cylinder for names, and about 300 feet away, one with the geologic survey marker. We arrived at the first top of Black Mountain, elevation 10,875 after hiking 2 miles in 3 hours. Black Mountain is one of the top 100 major peaks in New Mexico. We had an up-down elevation gain of 2038 feet. We then went to the second designated top. In my opinion the first top is probably a little higher but the geologic marker was mistakenly put on the second top. None the less, we did both. I was very, very thrilled to get this peak!! Only 6 left of the highest 177 peaks in New Mexico. For several in the group they were thrilled to get their first mountain peak. We took some pictures, looked around and headed to Bear Mountain. We were moving slow and I could see that we might not get all 5 peaks. Our guide suggested not doing Bear Mountain in hopes of getting the others. Bear Mountain is not one of the peaks I am interested in, but I still wanted to get it. I thought that if we did not do Bear Mountain we might have a better chance to get the others. I agreed, but asked our guide if I could hike Bear Mountain myself, giving him one of my 2 walkie talkies. Mitch said that they don’t like to split up a group, so I let reluctantly let it go. There were many striking green minerals along the way. I believe they were either jade or olivine. At Cimarron Pass we had to make a decision. We had only come about half way and I could see us returning near dark. I could have easily gotten 2 more of the peaks that I needed but I did not want to burn the group out. I have burned out family and friends and did not want to burn out the troop, so I very, very reluctantly recommended not doing it. It was sooooooo hard because 2 more were easily in my grasp. One of the leaders made me feel a little better, saying that this was good because I would be involved with the troop for a longer time. That made me feel a little better. I have enjoyed giving the scouts tips on backpacking and hoped to inspire some peakbaggers. It was a nice straight downhill hike back to camp, a little less than 3 miles. No sooner than we were a couple hundred yards down the trail I looked on the map and saw another way we could have gone to get 2 more of the peaks I needed and it was not overly hard. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh. Oh well I am already planning another Philmont trip and I can see a legitimate way to get 4 of the next 6 peaks I need. It was a breeze hiking back to camp. Our hike was nearly 8 miles today with an up-down elevation gain of 2686 feet, a half mile up. The scouts started a campfire and we roasted hotdogs over the fire. A deer was at the edge of camp. Around the fire we shared what our “rosebud” was, “thorn” was, and “blossom” of hope. My rosebud was, getting Black Mountain. My thorns were, not getting the 4 peaks that we thought we might get. My blossom of hope was that those thorns would turn into the blossom of getting those peaks next time. It was a beautiful star filled evening. We went to bed early. I slept well both nights except for playing a little “whack-a-mole.” Several of us experienced a little movement under our tent, under the dirt. It was either a mole or vole. After a whack on the tent bottom the mole would head on down its hole.

Day 3 - I got up the next morning at 6:45 and packed up before breakfast. It was a windy morning. A campfire was going and we had trail breakfast. A curious grey jay was watching our group. We enjoyed the area for awhile then headed out at 9:45. It is very rare to head uphill on the last day. We had to climb up and out about 2 miles, with an elevation gain of about 774 feet. I really felt good and as strong as a bull ox the entire trip. I was very thankful for that. We arrived at the top at 11:45. We hiked 12 miles and had an elevation gain of 3931 feet for the entire trip. We averaged about a mile an hour overall, quite slower than I usually go. The trip was perfect for our group, we felt the challenge, but no one was overdone. Everyone was thrilled with the accomplishment of hiking the hardest mountain peak on Philmont, the hardest way. We drove for nearly an hour back to the Philmont headquarters. They had a hamburger lunch for us then we went to the “Tooth of Time” Trading Post and bought some Black Mountain patches and other items. I asked if any of them though they would log their peaks and possibly become peakbaggers. Three thought they might. I toured the Scout Museum then started the 3 hour drive home. Philmont is about a sixth the size of the state of Rhode Island. It was such a pleasure to see that beautiful land, go with such a great group, and have a clear legitimate way to get 4 of the 6 peaks that I need. The 4 are on Philmont land.

(Only 6 more to go)
The list…….
This list includes all the 13,000 – 12,000 – 11,000 foot peaks – all the upper 10,000 foot peaks from about 10,800 and above. This list includes the highest 102 major peaks with all the difficult sub-peaks included – The highest 177 peaks in NM.
See almost 1900 NM peak pictures....
Click on photo for original larger-size version.
Black Mountain elevation 10,875 on Philmont. Looking towards the west (2020-10-09). Photo by Phil Robinson.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3931 ft / 1197 m
    Total Elevation Loss:3931 ft / 1197 m
    Round-Trip Distance:12 mi / 19.3 km
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Gear Used:
Guide, Tent Camp
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2038 ft / 621 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 1135 ft / 346 m; Extra: 903 ft / 275m
    Loss on way in:903 ft / 275 m
    Distance:4 mi / 6.4 km
    Route:Road down to Black Mt Camp 8966 ft, Up West Slope
    Start Trailhead:Road West of Black Mt Camp  9740 ft / 2968 m
    Time:4 Hours 45 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:3028 ft / 922 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 1135 ft / 346 m; Extra: 1893 ft / 576m
    Gain on way out:1893 ft / 576 m
    Distance:8 mi / 12.9 km
    Route:Black Mt to Cimarron Pass to Camp to Road
    End Trailhead:Road West of Black Mt Camp  9740 ft / 2968 m
    Time:8 Hours 
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.

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