Ascent of Harquahala Mountain on 2015-03-27

Climber: Andrew Kirmse

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Friday, March 27, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Harquahala Mountain
    Elevation:5681 ft / 1731 m

Ascent Trip Report

My family had come to Phoenix to see the San Francisco Giants in spring training. My son was baseball crazy and this was a good chance to get up close to the players. It was the very tail end of spring training, and hot weather was just arriving. I had looked at the county high points within striking distance, and settled on Harquahala Mountain as a challenging but doable day trip. Due to comments about the sandy entrance road, I had rented a truck for the day.

Very early in the morning I left Phoenix and headed west, through country very new to me. Along this route there were few trees, and endless ranges of dry rocky mountains. From reading ahead, I had little trouble finding the unmarked gate on the south side of US Route 60, across from a palm tree. I closed the gate behind me and followed my directions to a BLM trailhead where there were restrooms and a trail register, which showed several parties from the last few weeks.

The hike along a good trail was shaded on the north side of the mountain, which became more important as the sun rose higher. Saguaro cacti and other species were everywhere, just starting to bloom. Signs of the communication wire and poles up to the old Smithsonian observation station on the top were obvious. I passed ruins of old mining shacks, described by a helpful trailside sign.

At the top, the old Smithsonian building itself was present, with some picnic tables. Views stretched out in every direction to innumerable mountains I’d never seen. The drivable road up the south side of the mountain was clearly visible. It looked not to be in terrific shape, and I was glad to have put in the effort to earn the view by walking. I took a look at the solar panels next to the communication equipment, and wandered over to tag the nearby wilderness high point.

By the time I got halfway down it was hot. I wouldn’t have wanted to climb any later in the day, or probably any later day during the season, for that matter.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3381 ft / 1030 m
    Round-Trip Distance:10.8 mi / 17.4 km
    Trailhead:2300 ft / 701 m
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail

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