Ascent of Hualapai Peak on 2014-08-23

Climber: Richard Hensley

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, August 23, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Hualapai Peak
    Elevation:8417 ft / 2565 m

Ascent Trip Report

Westbound on I-40, I took exit 59 about 6 miles before the first Kingman exit. My 2014 road atlas depicts DW Ranch Rd as unpaved, but it is paved all the way to Hualapai Mtn Rd, and makes a great cutoff coming from the east. The road is paved all the way to the main trailhead. The daily entrance fee is now $7 for Hualapai Mtn Park (Mohave County). The ranger station has information and flush facilities. Asked the ranger a few questions and picked up a nice trail map. It's color-printed on a topo background, describes the junctions and other POI, elevations, and has a neat distance grid for getting around. It's very handy and fairly accurate but not exact. Followed signs for Aspen Peak Trail to the parking area just before the yellow gate.
About 200 ft past the yellow gate, left the wide trail (old road) for the signed footpath for Stonestep Overlook and Potato Patch Loop. At the sign for Stonestep, the trail switchbacks to the right. At Potato Patch Loop, I turned left for the shorter route to Hualapai. (I returned the other way, and I estimated it was 1/4 mile longer with 160 more of extra elevation gain.) All the trails are in good shape.
The Hualapai Trail is also on an old roadbed. As it switchbacks up toward the peak, it is severely rutted and becomes surprisingly steep. So steep that I couldn't believe old cars or wagons could have used it. The roadbed/trail ends at the base of a cliff about 200 ft below the summit. This was an impromptu hike as I was driving through, so I hadn't fully prepared by reading all the reports. I thought the north brushy slope was the way, but I could not see a way from the trail's end. So I backtracked to the last switchback. I followed a footpath that led toward the brush on the south side, but it soon disappeared. So I went down to the 2nd to last switchback, where I saw some stones that may have been a cairn, and a very faint trail leading into the brush toward the north side. So if you see the flat plastic trail sign with a "14" on it, return to the previous switchback. The GPS for leaving the road/trail is 35 4.510'N, 113 53.830'W.
I had heard of scrambles in the southwest that force you to choose between scrambling and exposure or nasty bushwhack with possible thorns. This was a good warmup. Not recognizing the thorny shrubs from a distance, I opted to stay toward rock. The faint trail for the most part soon disappeared as I headed west, trying to avoid the tallest brush. I did see a couple short lime-green ribbons for a while. My first choice came at a large solitary slab, steeply tilted with a large blueberry bush at its base. With the way left unknown, I scooted along its base until I trusted my traction to go up the slab. From here, I could see two possibilities to the ridge: on the left was a tall narrow gap grown in with shrubs; it didn't look nice. So I headed for the brushy gap on the right that appeared to have more room. This is toward the steep wall of rock with vertical and horizontal cracks. I pushed my way along the base of this wall as far as I could. After leaning 30 degrees against the rock to avoid the brush for about 20 feet, at which point I could go no further, the wall broke up enough that I could scramble up to the top of the wall. I now saw about 60 ft of very dense brush (maybe thorns) between me and the summit. But I could see a ring of boulders around the right side. So I rock-hopped around nearly all of the brush to the summit's SW corner. When the exposure got beyond my comfort range, I just scrambled left and back up to the top of the boulders. Soon I was faced with getting up onto the famous last boulder. I looked at the direct climb; though not exposed to a long fall, once you leave your feet, placing them back on the narrow rock in the gap looked very precarious. Circling on the more-exposed narrow ledge on its north side was much easier. So much so that I did it 3 times up and 2 down, since there wasn't room on the top to mount my camera.
Great views all around, though a little smoke and haze was present. I vaguely saw Bill Williams Mtn 96 miles to the east. I know this is usually climbed in spring or fall to avoid the heat. But on an 87 degree day in Kingman, this was a comfortable hike. And the scrambling was perfect: plenty to challenge, but not to the point of turning me back. I was surprised to be alone on nice Saturday afternoon, but maybe it was my late 11am start.
The GPS track shows my track for the day, including photo diversions, missed trail turns, route finding, etc. The distances and times in the stats are only for a perfect hike, i.e., direct trail, no stopping, no Hayden Rd. The return portion is only back to the Aspen Peak trailhead. For Aspen Peak, see my separate report.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2373 ft / 722 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1562 ft / 475 m
    Round-Trip Distance:6.4 mi / 10.3 km
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Few cu, some smoke/haze
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1983 ft / 604 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 1643 ft / 501 m; Extra: 340 ft / 103m
    Loss on way in:340 ft / 103 m
    Distance:4 mi / 6.4 km
    Route:Potato Patch Loop East
    Start Trailhead:Main Trail Junction  6774 ft / 2064 m
    Time:2 Hours 0 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1222 ft / 372 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 832 ft / 254 m; Extra: 390 ft / 118m
    Gain on way out:390 ft / 118 m
    Distance:2.4 mi / 3.9 km
    Route:Hualapai Trail
    End Trailhead:Aspen Peak TH  7585 ft / 2311 m
    Time:1 Hours 10 Minutes
Ascent Part of Trip: Hualapai Mtn Park (0 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Hualapai Peak2014-08-232373 ft / 723 m
2(Attempt) Hayden Peak2014-08-23 
3Aspen Peak2014-08-23822 ft / 251 m
Total Trip Gain: 3195 ft / 974 m    Total Trip Loss: 3195 ft / 974 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Richard Hensley
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
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. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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