Ascent to Humphreys Peak-Near Humpreys/Agassiz Saddle on 2010-11-23

Climber: Michael Wanberg

Others in Party:Krystal Wanberg
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Point Reached:Humphreys Peak - Near Humpreys/Agassiz Saddle
    Elevation:11900 ft / 3627 m
    Remaining Elevation:733 ft / 223 m (22% left to go)

Ascent Trip Report

My sister And I were on the way to Tucson for Thanksgiving and I decided to make an attempt on Humphreys Peak because it was 'on the way'. I'd originally hoped to make it to the TH and car-camp there, but after arriving in Flagstaff well after dark I decided that I didn't want to chance a potentially icy mountain road I wasn't familiar with in the dark. We found a little park and sacked out in the very frigid cold. Neither of us got much sleep, and we were both wide awake (and cold!) well before sunrise. I started up the car and cranked the heater full blast as we slowly went about packing up and making breakfast.

We drove up to the TH, finding the road largely clear of ice, found the 'hiking lot' and set out across an open field near a ski lift. There were few (if any) trail markings, so we just made our way up through the ski area to the base of a bowl between Humphreys and Agassiz peaks. Aside from the bitter cold, it was a fantastic day - there were only a few wispy clouds and the sunshine reflected wonderfully off the snow all around. We definitely were appreciative of the added warmth as well!

It was clear that we wouldn't be finding the trail, so I picked my way up along the north side of the bowl. It reminded me a great deal of my Mt. Bachelor climb a month before, although we were much higher yet there were still trees nearby. It was a moderately steep slope and the gusty wind made me pay close attention to maintaining my balance. We hit our 2pm turnaround time about a hundred feet below the crater rim, and Krystal's fingers were becoming dangerously cold, so we made the decision to descend. This wasn't the first time I'd been turned back on a peak, but it certainly was the farthest from home, which made it tougher. Had Krystal's fingers not been freezing I may have been tempted to continue on, probably quite foolishly.

Note: Had this ascent taken place about 10 days earlier I'm certain we would have summitted successfully, and probably in far less time. There wasn't any snow accumulations on the peak until a week prior to our ascent! I think my next attempt on this peak will be an October one to allow for better conditions.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2600 ft / 792 m
    Round-Trip Distance:8 mi / 12.9 km
    Trailhead:Humphreys Peak TH @ AZ Snow Bowl  9300 ft / 2834 m
    Grade/Class:Class 2
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Open Country, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Ski Poles
    Weather:Frigid, Very Windy, Partly Cloudy
About 10-20 degrees with 30-40mph gusts
Ascent Statistics
    Time:5 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Time:2 Hours 

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