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Ascent of Humphreys Peak on 2016-07-08

Climber: Phil Robinson

Others in Party:My daughter Christina.
Date:Friday, July 8, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Humphreys Peak
    Location:USA-Arizona
    Elevation:12633 ft / 3850 m

Ascent Trip Report

My 19 year daughter recently moved to California to share in an adventure in living, with her other 2 sisters. I have 4 daughters and she is the only one that is interested in peakbagging. Last year my son Garret & I hiked Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in California and the lower 49 states. We had been talking about hiking Arizona’s highest Peak, Humphreys Peak, elevation 12,633 since last year. I have an interest in hiking a few western state high points. He had a new son, was moving into a new house, didn’t have much time to take off and didn’t really care to do Arizona’s highest peak, so I asked my daughter Christina. I told her I would fly her out. She was excited to go.

We left the house in the Albuquerque area at 2:30 AM, July 8, 2016. There wasn’t much traffic on the freeway, and with a 75 mph speed limit we were starting to hike at 7:30 AM (6:30 AM Arizona time) We took highway 18O northwest out of Flagstaff, then between mileage marker 222 and 223 we turned north on NF Road 516 towards the ski area. It was a very cool, clear morning. The temperature was 50 degrees. Christina immediately put on a light down jacket until she warmed up from hiking. The temperature stayed in the low 50’s until our return trip back down from the top. The starting elevation was around 9250 feet. The hike started out on a gradual incline, then switch backed its way to the ridge. It was a beautiful green forested hike with lots of wildflowers. I have done so much bushwhacking lately, that it was great to be on a trail. As I hiked, I imagined how hard it would be to bushwhack straight to the top through the dense, steep, overgrown, log scattered forest. I was glad to be on a trail. The trail is a little hard to hike on. It is imbedded with many roots and rocks making a level step rare. We reached timberline, then the top of the ridge. There were spectacular views in all directions on this cloudless morning. We headed north along the ridge. This part of the hike is a little harder than the assent to the ridge. There are lots of jagged boulders to cross and the correct direction to the top is a little hard to see. If you look closely though, you can see a well worn path over the rocks and there are a few wooden posts showing the direction of the trail. There were lots of high alpine wildflowers along the way. We crossed over a peak bump labeled on some maps as San Francisco Mountain, 12,297. We reached the top after hiking for 3 hours and 35 minutes. It was 11:05 AM. (10:05 AM Arizona time)The GPS said the distance we had hiked was 5.6 miles. It was very chilly with a brisk wind on the top. Recently, I have been hiking all day, never seeing another person. On this trail we saw lots of people, including about 10 on the top. We took some pictures and looked around for about 15 minutes. We descended the ridge planning to hike Agassiz Peak. I called the forest service before we went hiking to see if there was any problem or red tape hiking Humphreys Peak They said there was not. I did not think to ask about Agassiz Peak. I did not have a great interest to hike the peak. I wanted to hike it because it was close, and the only other 12K Arizona peak. We were at the saddle, just about to head up, talking to some other hikers, when they said the peak was not allowed to be hiked. In doing some research, Arizona has so little tundra and there is a species of yellow alpine wildflower with the common name, San Francisco Peaks groundsel or ragwort. This species is only found on these peaks, and so to protect the flower and the tundra, hikers are not allowed to climb the peak unless it is covered with enough snow that the ground is not disturbed. We were disappointed because we were only about a third of a mile from the top. We left the ridge, heading down the same way we came up. The temperature was warming up. We switch backed to the bottom, enjoying the beautiful forest. We arrived back at the car after hiking about 7 hours, including a couple of little stops. It was 2:30 PM (1:30 PM Arizona time) The GPS said we had hiked 11 miles. The up-down elevation gain for the hike was about 3650 feet. We drove to Flagstaff and ate, then drove back to the Albuquerque area, getting back at dusk. Christina flew back to California the next morning. She now has 16 peaks. When we started hiking she did not realize we were hiking Arizona’s highest peak, and seemed fairly excited that we did.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:3633 ft / 1106 m
    Distance:11 mi / 17.7 km
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:3412 ft / 1039 m
    Extra Loss:29 ft / 8 m
    Distance:5.6 mi / 9 km
    Route:East on Trail to ridge then north
    Trailhead:Parking area west of peak  9250 ft / 2819 m
    Time Up:3 Hours 35 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Extra Gain:221 ft / 67 m
    Distance:5.4 mi / 8.7 km
    Route:From the top south on ridge then west down trail
    Trailhead:Parking area west of peak  
    Time Down:3 Hours 
Ascent Part of Trip: Humphreys & Peak 12297

Complete Trip Sequence:
OrderPeak/PointDate
1San Francisco Mountain2016-07-08 a
2Humphreys Peak2016-07-08 b
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Phil Robinson
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. Peakbagger.com accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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