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Ascent of Browns Peak on 2018-02-15

Climber: BMS 914

Others in Party:Joel Brewster
BLMhikergirl Pipps
justine Byers
Date:Thursday, February 15, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Browns Peak
    Location:USA-Arizona
    Elevation:7657 ft / 2333 m

Ascent Trip Report

This peak, the first if a multi-day peakbagging trip set up by Joel via the Las Vegas Mountaineers Club, proved to be a bit of an adventure. After leaving the Las Vegas valley in the evening (of Valentine's Day no less), we loaded into Jodie's Wrangler and drove toward Phoenix, heading for the trailhead at Browns. The plan was to pitch the tents/car camp near the trailhead, then get an early start up the next morning, so we could get on the road and set up camp for with our trip's primary objective, Baboquivari Peak, planned for the following day.

The drive went well, and eventually we hit a well-graded dirt road that wound its way into the mountains. Joel was doing a great job behind the wheel, and even though it had been raining steadily for some hours, the road seemed to be in pretty good shape. Joel knew from his planning that he would have to make a sharp right turn near the top of the road, but wasn't exactly sure where that would be. As we neared what seemed to be our turnoff, a sharp right appeared. We stopped, and briefly discussed if it was the correct spot. The turnout was very sharp, and seemed much easier to access going downhill, which should have been a big clue that it was not the road we were looking for.

We decided to give it a shot, but it was hard to see where we were going, being below the level of the turn, very dark, and very rainy. Instead of going a bit higher up and angling onto the road, Joel elected to use the high clearance of the Jeep and just climb right up onto it. Unfortunately, the surface was very loose, and the road was much narrower than we realized, and we quickly got stuck, high-centered on the sandy dirt, with the RF and LR wheels just spinning. The Jeep has 4WD, but is the longer "Unlimited" model, and did not have lockers, or even a high lift jack. The "road" was in fact a plowout, and after nearly an hour of trying unsuccessfully to free the vehicle in the rain, we eventually gave up and did our best to find camping spots nearby.

I pitched my tent between several puddles about 50 meters up the road at an elbow bend/turnout, and spent a cold and very damp night thinking about better spots to be in on Valentine's Day night...

We were all up at first light and the rain had stopped. Eventually were able to dig the sandy soil out from behind the path of the two front tires, and wedge large rocks under the rear ones. With all of us pushing from the front (except Jodie who was behind the wheel), we were at last able to get the Jeep back down onto the road proper. We packed up or gear, and headed up the road, looking for the correct turn.

A mile or two later we found it, and a few minutes later we arrived at the nice, signed trailhead for Browns Peak. In spite of our misadventure, the road itself was very good, and should be easily accessible for most vehicles, especially if it isn't wet.

From the trailhead, a nice maintained trail leads up toward what appears to be a fairly impressive peak. The trail eventually dwindles a bit, but is easy to follow. I ditched my trekking poles at the spot it seemed likely the scrambling was likely to start, and our group headed up into a very steep gully.

The gully was a protracted scramble, as it got higher it got steeper. I would call it exposed Class 3, sort of Class 3 climbing with more air than usual should a big mistake be made. At one point Justine got kind of freaked out looking down during a sticky spot, but quickly focused and made it up, as did the rest of our party.

The summit had some great views, we did the usual summit stuff, then headed back down the way we came. Near the bottom of the gully, we ran into a small party heading up, chatted for a few minutes, then continued our descent. I retrieved my trekking poles, we hit the maintained trail, and made it down back to the Jeep. A number of non-hiker/climber types were parked at the trailhead by now, sort of loitering about, taking pictures, and talking loudly. I found them annoying, and we hurriedly packed up and left. In any event, we had some driving ahead of us, and needed to secure camping permits from the Tohono O'odham Tribe offices before it closed, and meet Richard H at the campground.

This peak was fun enough that I would repeat it again.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2000 ft / 609 m
    Extra Gain:11 ft / 3 m
    Round-Trip Distance:5 mi / 8 km
    Route:Trail to gully on Northwest Face
    Trailhead:Lone Pine Trailhead  5679 ft / 1730 m
    Grade/Class:Class 3
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles, Tent Camp
    Nights Spent:1 nights away from roads
    Weather:Cool, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Patchy clouds following early rain
Ascent Statistics
    Time:2 Hours 5 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:2 Hours 8 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by BMS 914
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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. Peakbagger.com accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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