By: Gary Craig
I came uncomfortably close to serious injury this weekend. Myself and seventeen others were hiking up the easy "route A" on Black Butte as described in the peaks guide. About 1/2 way up one of the obvious gullies leading to the top, I stepped on a large, flattish slab. Unfortunately, this slab was partly overhung, and my weight collapsed its remaining support, dropping a foot or so and sending me tumbling backward. Even more unfortunately, the MUCH larger boulder (say, a small refrigerator) resting on the other side of the slab had now lost its support, and it began rolling directly toward me. Only some frantic rolling and scrambling, along with a backward somersault, kept it from crushing various body parts. My day pack protected me from the yucca which I later noticed I had backed into/over, so I escaped with only a big bruise on my rear (from the initial fall - sorry McCully, no photo) and various scratches and scrapes.. The whole event lasted about two seconds.
Despite this fun, everything turned out OK. We all got the peak, and many of us got Chuckwalla and Orocopia on Sunday. But the point of this diatribe is that this route on Black Butte is rated CLASS ONE. It IS possible to get hurt (or worse) on easy routes, a fact that many, including myself, tend to forget. Have fun, but know that you are personally taking on some risks, so do what you can to minimize those risks. Like they used to say on TV, "Let's be careful out there". Test your handholds and footholds. Watch for falling rock. Listen to your leaders. Bring extra food and water. Don't smoke. Eat your vegetables.
My thanks to everybody on the trip for their support (and humor) afterwards, and to Charlie Knapke and Greg Roach for leading what was a very enjoyable trip (except for a few seconds...).
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