Dome Mountain (Arizona)
By: Mark Adrian
As with any one only remotely anticipates completion after perhaps ten percent progress. The 193-range, 204-peak Arizona Range Highpoints list was no exception, But after several years of winding my way across Arizona's mountains, I was finally atop my "final" highpoint.
To me, Arizona epitomizes the Desert Southwest My fascination with the State was probably first seeded during my work on the DPS list. I recall one of my first climbs in Arizona back in November, 1991, was the "sky island" Baboquivari Peak, led by my friend Dave Jurasevich. I didn't realize then that Arizona would "consume" me is such a way.
The majority of the AZHP list is "traditional" desert type peaks, some of which, in my opinion, are DPS quality or better. The Cabeza Prieta is perhaps my all time favorite classic Sonoran Desert. However, Arizona also has several exquisitely forested ranges as well, such as those around the "Rim Country" in the State's northwest and those ranges in the east where several highpoints rise above 10,000'. There are also a few technical peaks to negotiate as well, such as the North Feather, highpoint of the Eagletail Mountains (5.6) and the unnamed highpoint of the Tank Mountains (perhaps low 5th). It must also be said that there are a few character building brushwhacks along the way as well, most notably the highpoint of the Weaver, Sevenmile and Mescal Mountains. It is a comprehensive list for the determined desert peakbagger.
My outings would routinely begin at San Diego State University's map library. 7.5' topo maps are essential tools and sometimes I think this research was more effort than the climbs. Occasionally, I would have recent information supplied by my friend Dave Jurasevich who was also working the list. Dave and I exchanged information as best we could. Some peaks, however, defied easy access and uncertainty was the rule.
As for Dave, most of our climbs were solo. On occasion, when circumstances demanded or permitted, we would climb together.
Typically, I would stay out for a week or so (carcamping) and climb two highpoints per day on the average. Some peaks though, were a bit more enduring and although they didn't require a backpack, a flashlight was mandatory. Not every climb went "easy" and there was enough misadventure to add "color" to the epic. On Tres Alamos, I had the misfortune of slapping the top of my right hand into a cholla. While writhing in agony, I simultaneously slapped the top of my left hand into another cholla. The pain was excruciating and required a lot of self control since I was solo and had to perform the delicate extrication. So, grabbing a nearby rock and trying not to impale myself with more cholla, I had to grit my teeth and pry the cholla ball out of at first my right hand, then my left. Tweezers were needed for the final "cleanup" and of course, I finally made it to the summit where signing in was difficult. I think though, on another trip, the agave spike that pierced my left boot and into the ball of my foot was just as, if not more painful. It took me two hours to hobble back to my truck and the throbbing pain lasted it seems for weeks. All part of the Arizona adventure though and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
So, my final highpoint, Dome Mountain, proved to be a relatively easy climb. Since Dave had recently climbed it, the route was known and scouted.
After a rugged 4WD approach, it was an easy 1.5 hour cross-country hike to the summit. As with any list finish, it was a bitter-sweet experience. Although the day started out cloudy and wet, the summit was sunny, warm and dry with views to nearby Weaver's Needle, Superstition and Mazatzal Mountains amongst many other ranges. It had been a lot of miles (both hiking and driving) and a lot of adventure, introspection and self-reliance to arrive at this summit. The AZHP list is a noble effort and perhaps few will ever again decide to endure its demands. It was certainly humbling for me.
I think Patty Kline's question "is there life after the (DPS) list" can be easily answered : Yes, Patty, you just find another list. So, since Doug's AZ range highpoint list provided the inspiration, there is of course California, Nevada, and Baja. There is certainly no lack of summits and ranges to compel the adventurous peak bagger to unlimited exploring in the mountain ranges of the Desert Southwest.
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