Mount Ajo, Weavers Needle, Baboquivari Peak

26-Oct-07

By: Ann Perkins

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Anne Rolls, Bob Hoeven, and Dave and Ann Perkins met at the campground in Organ Pipe National Monument on October 26th for a series of climbs in Arizona and Mexico. First on the list was Ajo, and we started out early the next morning since the weather was predicted in the low 90's. Fortunately, we had cloud cover most of the day, and enjoyed the climb, mostly on trail, through a scenic area of organ pipe and saguaro cactus. The summit is a series of bumps that we explored, but did not find the register. There was a large metal box which was locked, but it seemed unlikely that the register was there. We made it back to the cars in 6 hours RT and stopped by the Visitor Center before returning to the campground. Here we encountered a setback - when we told the ranger of our plans to climb Kino the following day, she informed us that the entire area was restricted, including the Bates Well road which provides access to the trailhead. The Border Patrol had closed the area to Park Staff and visitors because of problems with drug runners and illegal immigrants. The DPS should look into this and find out how long this restriction will be in effect-if the answer is indefinitely, then we might consider taking it off the list as we have Argus and Maturango.

Changing our plans, we drove to Phoenix the next day for a climb of Weaver's Needle on Oct. 29b. Bob had climbed it once and Dave twice, but they were determined to get me and Anne up the peak, so we reluctantly (being somewhat leery of 4t'' Class climbing) agreed. We started out this time at 4 a.m. to beat the predicted heat, and were at the start of the 4' Class section while the air was still cool. Fortunately we had cloud cover again, so didn't have to add heat to the other difficulties of the climb. We used Route A as described in the guide, and with a small party and careful placement of feet, rock fall was not a problem. Dave and Bob did a good job with coaching and belays, so the climb was completed with only one or two moments of real terror (on my part), and the rappel down was enjoyed by all. We were moving slowly on the way back to the trailhead, and had used all our water by the end, but were elated to have completed the climb. The next day we enjoyed the Casa Grande Monument (well worth a stop) while on the way to the campground near Baboquivari, where we met Sue Holloway for the next day's climb. The procedure for reserving spaces at the campground is now to contact the tribal office, and then fax them a sheet with the names of the people in the party and the number of cars. At this point, there is no charge.

This was Dave's third time climbing the peak, and Bob and Sue's second, so there was plenty of experience to lead Anne up for her first time. Ann had climbed Babo, and decided to remain in the campground enjoying the peace and solitude (it is a beautiful place), and the company of some Indian workers who were giving the area a thorough cleaning in preparation for a dance and celebration the next week. The elevation gain and mileage make this a difficult climb, but all did well on the relatively short 4' class section. Dave (and others who have attempted Babo recently) report that the first 20 feet of the climb seems to have smaller hand and foot holds than in the past, so they started further to the left. There are also now beefier anchors and chains in place near the famous rappel tree than in the past. The climbers were back at the campground by 5 p.m., and Dave and I left and drove on to Gila Bend to get a start on the trip back home. We enjoyed a meal in Ajo at Marcela's cafe and bakery - good Mexican food.


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