“There are only 3 sports-bullfighting, car racing and mountain climbing. All the others are mere games.
Carlita Bonita (Studette)
Mad Dog Dan (Stud)
El Lobo Grande
The OK Corral
The border patrol agent’s words merited consideration. “Are you bringing a gun? It’s like the old west out here. Anything goes. The camp on the west side is where the drug runners meet.”
Our climb was on the west side. The standard route is the easiest way up Baboquivari, the only major summit in Arizona to require technical climbing skills. The Tohono O’odham Reservation forms the western boundary of this highly scenic wilderness area.
“Babo” is a distinctive landmark that according to Tohono O’odham legend, it is home to Iitoi, or “Elder Brother.” Elder Brother taught the tribe how to live in the desert.
After a four hour drive, we headed up a back road on the east side. We put up the tents in a rainstorm, and camped a mile from the Humphrey’s Ranch. The Nature Conservancy holds a pedestrian right of way across the primitive land.
The Heebie Jeebies
I got up in the middle of the night and could see the silhouette of a monolith in the distance. It occurred to me that perhaps we had landed on the planet of the apes. I expected to see monkeys next.
Donde son los monos? PIC by Zo
We got an early start in the morning, our plan was to climb 2500’ to the saddle and then bushwhack to the west side and find the standard route which follows the “Great Ramp” to the 80’ high Cliff-Hanger pitch.
After crossing the ranch, the trail dipped in and out of a stream bottom as we headed up Thomas Canyon. We were surprised to find that the route had been little used and that it eventually faded away as we approached the head of the canyon. The area was thick with spiny, prickly sharp, stabbing desert plant species as well as Mexican pinon and Arizona Oak. El Lobo led the way and the group followed his stream of blood.
The going on this bushwhack was extremely slow and the entire group did not arrive at the saddle until almost 11:00.
At the saddle we followed some cairns and hoped that they would lead us around the mountain.-Not- We climbed to within 600’ of the top and hit a section that was not safe to free climb. Zo scouted it out. Passage was questionable. The rock was wet and another storm had blown in.
The notch-PIC by Zo
“Backing off a climb is not a failure. Not surviving is failure”
El Lobo Grande
We carefully down-climbed and headed back to the saddle for lunch. We found a much better route down and enjoyed the scenery. Wildflowers and butterflies brightened the landscape and our spirits.
The lovely but tough Carlita sez "Vaminos!" PIC by Zo
Back at the Ranch
The Fab 5-PIC by ZO
At the car we put up our camp chairs and broke out the cervezas. We experienced a bit of disappointment and frustration at getting so close and not reaching the top but with the knowledge we gained of the area, we were confident that we would return and nail it.
The next time we will drive to the west side and leave at 3:00 in the morning thereby avoiding a camp.(and a gunfight?)
The Old Pueblo
We stopped in Tucson at “El Minuto” for possibly the best Mexican food and margaritas in the world and arrived back at 9:00 P.M... Dingo was greeted by his family, happy to have daddy back home for Easter egg hunts the next morning. Thanks to Dingo for driving and thanks to all for the adventure that we shared.
Men & Women behaving badly
-Lobo, at 6:00 A.M for chanting Babo Babo Babo
-Mad Dog Dan for bringing light beer-what a sissy!
-Lobo and Dingo for losing the trail and leading a bushwhack up a spiny, thorny, stabbing drainage.
-Sweet innocent Carlita- for using the language of a truck driver when attacked by a thorny bush
Lobo-for not bringing his rain fly (because rain wasn’t expected)
Carlita, Mad Dog Dan & Lobo for flaunting their challenge grant gear-new REI sleeping bags, tents, and liners.
Dingo for blasting Frankie Lane’s “Rawhide at 6:30 A.M. on the car stereo to roust Carlita and Mad Dog
Mad Dog for picking a wildflower, having a moment and then trying to hold Lobo’s hand
Lobo- for returning with poison oak all over his body, and then spreading it to an area that he frequently scratches.
Mad Dog for crying about a couple of little patches of poison oak on his leg.
Men & Women Behaving Bravely
Zo-for sleeping in Lobo’s tent
Carlita-or going on an adventure with four foul guys.