By: Dennis Richards
Rusty Bailey Route, Grade I, 5.4
Desert Peak Section members may be interested in another (and I think, safer) route to the top of Signal Peak via Palm Canyon. I first heard of this route from Eric Beck and Lori Lando. They were searching for the traditional fourth class route when they heard voices above them. It was a large group of Arizona residents that included Rusty Bailey, a climber from Prescott. As near as I can tell, he put this route up years ago, and it is popular with Arizona climbers.
Carol Snyder, Mark Bender and myself decided to climb this wonderful Emblem Peak via this route; if we could find it. Armed with Eric's vague description of "go up the canyon until progress is blocked and turn left", we set off. We followed the Palm Canyon route (Route A) from the DPS Road and Peaks Guide, Third Edition, to the large dry waterfall. Sure enough, there was a rock wall on the left side.
After getting into our shoes, helmets and harnesses, Carol led the short 20' first pitch up the right side of the wall (on the left side of the canyon), clipping a fixed piton before making a delicate step unto a large flat ledge with a cave. Just inside the cave on the left side, are two more fixed pitons for a belay anchor. From these pins, Carol belayed us up onto the ledge. From this point, Carol led the second 70' pitch up the wall, past two additional fixed pitons, to a pair of bolts further up. After Mark and I arrived at the belay, we continued a short distance on up third class rock. From here it's the standard hike to the summit. On the descent, we rappelled from the bolts all the way to the bottom, using our two ropes. DPS members should find this route challenging and safer than the loose fourth class route usually associated with this peak. There are only a couple of 5.4 moves, it's well protected and all face climbing.
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