Ascent of Mazatzal Peak on 2017-08-30

Climber: Gustav Sexauer

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mazatzal Peak
    Elevation:7903 ft / 2408 m

Ascent Trip Report

I had read reports of there being "no good way up" Mazatzal Peak, so I decided to embrace the suck and hike Suicide Ridge up and down. I started off on the Barnhardt Trail and took it until just past the big wash coming from the left. I was at the base of a steep foothill that went up to some cliffs. I went straight up this, often bushwhacking or zigzagging to avoid the worst of the bushes and cactus. I got a call from Janos part way up which helped me not overexert while I chatted and hiked simultaneously. Off the phone (for some reason I had great reception on this whole hike), I went up a scree slope to the cliffs and then did some low level climbing up them. A few times I was exposed, hence the class 4 rating I gave the peak. All of these cliffs could have been avoided through more traversing, though. The cliffs continued on and on and I had to stay on them because the ridge over the right side was a drop off and the left was annoyingly brushy. I'll bet this was a much easier route pre-fire. The post fire vegetation also didn't provide any shade, so it was hot despite it being only 80F when I started. Once on the ridge above 6800' the going got much easier. The terrain was fairly flat and I motored across the ridge thanks to the let up in slope. I then went up to the 7403 peak which thankfully still had old trees with no brush under them. I heard something moving near me, then saw the back and antlers of a mighty elk bushwhacking its way away from me. Wow! I ate an early lunch in this area in the shade of the trees. I then continued on to more light bushwhacking, but nothing as bad as I had before. The far peak on the ridge with a triangular rise and a meadow looked like the top, and it was. It helped to see the goal ahead of me. The ridge continued and I worked my way either on it or to the right of it all the way to that final meadow. My goal was to make it in under 4 hours, and viola! I did it. The view was incredible other than a haze that persisted in every direction. I could see the Mogollon Rim, San Francisco Peaks, Four Peaks, and so on. There were literally pounds of ladybugs on the summit coating the branches of the bushes. On the way down I contemplated going down the ridge to meet up with the Barnhardt Trail where other people had come up, but I couldn't justify trying a new route that was allegedly not good either, and having the chance of getting cliffed out. Then, for better or for worse, I followed the ridge back the way I came. I was not looking forward to the bushwhack sections and incredibly steep downhill by the cliffs. I had learned that the white branch bushes were thorny and to be avoided. The red branched bushes were usually a better choice to push through unless you tried to go near their centers. They also left a lot of pollen like film on my clothes. Once I got to the 6800' ridge, I went straight down, using the scree runs rather than the cliffs to the left. I went sliding on a few of them somewhat purposefully. I was cliffed out a couple times, but then near the bottom I started to work right to meet up with the Y Bar Trail. It turned out to be much lower on that flank of the mountain than I had hoped, and was also not surfaced like the Barnhardt. The Y Bar Trail was loose cobbles and made a bunch of switchbacks that weren't all that necessary. This wasn't a trail to relax to the finish like I had hoped. From what I could tell, I'd rather try the Barnhardt Trail to get closer next time to avoid previously burned areas for longer.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4208 ft / 1281 m
    Total Elevation Loss:4208 ft / 1282 m
    Round-Trip Distance:7.5 mi / 12.1 km
    Grade/Class:Class 4
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Weather:Hot, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3973 ft / 1210 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 3723 ft / 1134 m; Extra: 250 ft / 76m
    Loss on way in:250 ft / 76 m
    Distance:3.5 mi / 5.7 km
    Route:Suicide Ridge
    Start Trailhead:Barnhardt Trailhead  4180 ft / 1274 m
    Time:3 Hours 27 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:3958 ft / 1206 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 3723 ft / 1134 m; Extra: 235 ft / 71m
    Gain on way out:235 ft / 71 m
    Distance:4 mi / 6.4 km
    Route:Suicide Ridge
    End Trailhead:Barnhardt Trailhead  4180 ft / 1274 m
    Time:2 Hours 59 Minutes

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