"I can see for miles and miles and miles"
The Who 1967
The Endless Weekend
I had just returned from five days in Southern Utah's Canyonlands, backpacking in 65 mph winds and record rains. (TR to follow) The gear was a mess and required several hours to clean and put away.
Gerry and I spent a quiet, relaxing evening, enjoying a steak dinner outside by the pool. The weather was perfect and we polished off a couple of good bottles of Australian Shiraz while listening to some of our favorite oldies.
Quite a bit of time was spent analyzing and philosophizing the lyrics of "Making Love out Of Nothing at All" a million seller by the Australian group Air Supply, recorded in 1983.
This dialogue was similar to a discussion such as: "What is Goofy? Is he a dog? Exactly what kind of animal is goofy?"
This deep philosophical session put me in bed much later than I had planned.
It was four A.M. Sunday morning and we had been driving for for two hours. Just outside Tucson we stopped at a Circle K for coffee and breakfast. Dingo heated up a frozen breakfast burrito. Mad Dog had not been to bed and scarfed down a frozen Pizza. Zo inhaled a hot dog. Lobo sipped his coffee, pondered the situation and cursed. Why had I planned and organized this outing? Why did they decide to go?
We all, of course knew the answer .....This was unfinished business. Our last attempt at Babo left us 600' from the summit. We were not going to be denied again. By noon we would be on top of the sacred peak.
Mad Dog Dan
El Lobo Grande
This time we made our approach from the West. We followed a good dirt road 10 miles to Baboquivari camp, which is beautifully maintained by the Tohono O'odham tribe. There was no one there at 7:00 A.M. There was no sign of the drug runners that the border patrol had warned us about.
We started our approach up a well maintained trail and hiked up 3500' to the "Great Ramp" where the trail ended and a scramble was now required. This part would be scary for non climbers who may mutiny and demand a belay.
We were shaded from the morning sun by Babo and this provided some relief. Along the way we discovered several campfire pits and areas to camp. (and hide)?
We reached the base of a 150' rock face, the Ladder Pitch at 11:00 A.M.
Zo climbed up unprotected and set anchors for us to climb with the protection of a rope. This pitch is a 5.6.
Mad Dog on his first rock climb (Pic by Zo)
After each of us climbed this face, we went South/West and free climbed a tricky short section with a chockstone. We then followed a vague route to the summit.
Alto de Montana
The summit was simply awe inspiring! The views were 360 degrees into the great wide open. You could see for miles and miles into old Mexico.
A few Indian trinkets had been left as an offering. Several species of large birds soared overhead.
Dozens of starlings zipped past, miniature jets flying 90 miles an hour. A few came too close for comfort and El Lobo became quite eager to start down. I mean, we were only half way done and still had a dangerous down climb to negotiate.
I was convinced that the starlings were sending us a message from the gods to leave the sacred mountain. The boys did not feel my sense of urgency.
"You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know."
- Rene Daumal
Free climbing down the top section was nerve racking but we went slow, had great communication and teamwork, and slowly worked down to the face. Here we each rapped down with a belay from Zo and then he followed.
At the "Great Ramp" we enjoyed a leisurely lunch before scrambling down to the trail. Hiking down was hot and arduous. El Lobo took a bad fall and his arm hemorrhaged. Along the way we spotted a pack hidden in some trees. We did not investigate.
After 10 hours of climbing and 9000' of elevation change we heard loud music coming from the direction of the camp.
We cautiously approached Zo's truck and were delighted to find a group of Tohono O'odham families having a picnic. The children were swinging at a piñata, having a great time. We set up our camp chairs and collapsed into them. It had been a long day and we still had over four hours of driving left.
Pacificos flowed through our exhausted bodies. A large hard bloody lump had formed on El Lobo's arm. We all debated as to it's status-broken or bruised?
We drove out the back road through a beautiful thick forest of stately saguaros and we arrived in Tucson two hours later where we had dinner and cervezas at the eccentric Old Congress Hotel.
We arrived at Dingo Dan's at 11:00 P.M. Zo, the road warrior, got us home safely again.
Thanks to Zo for leading the climb and driving.
Babo! Babo! Babo!
Lobo - For being TOO much of a morning person at 2 a.m. He arrived at Dingo's house half inebriated with the radio on high volume and woke up Dingo's neighbors.
Lobo - for leaving noxious gas in Mad Dog's face during the climb.
Mad Dog - for sticking his snout too close to Lobo
Dingo, Zo and Mad Dog- for torturing the superstitious El Lobo on the summit by purposely taking their sweet time taking pictures and relaxing before descending.
Dingo - For bringing climbing shoes -- it's only 5.6 Dingo! Even Mad Dog, who's never climbed, didn't need climbing shoes.
Mad Dog For laughing loudly at Lobo's bludgeoned arm. Perhaps if Lobo had fallen to his death Mad Dog would have thought that it was hysterically funny?
Mad Dog For mooching a quart of water from Zo, a quart of grapefruit juice from Dingo and a liter of Gatorade from Lobo and then running out of water on the descent and acting dizzy in order to get more free liquid from us.
Lobo - For EXAGGERATING his sneezes at the Congress Hotel.
Group - For not paying the day use fee at the Babo campground.