Ascent of Hualapai Peak on 2018-03-17

Climber: Gustav Sexauer

Others in Party:Katrina
Date:Saturday, March 17, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Hualapai Peak
    Elevation:8417 ft / 2565 m

Ascent Trip Report

We decided to split the weekend between skiing and hiking. Hiking here today, skiing at Lee Canyon tomorrow. We pulled up to the visitor's center and paid for our county park pass, then drove up the one lane road to the trailhead. We had to vent our car windows while we hiked because everything that came out of our house still smelled like plastic from the sewer rehab incident. The trail starts out in the forest, making switchbacks up to a junction. There are numbers shown at key points, and we mistakenly thought we should go to the lookout point to the left and find a trail beyond that. We eventually realized our mistake and got back on the trail and soon found the real junction. We went for the eastern part of the loop, which we happened to be the second ones on since a snowfall of about three inches about a day before. The trail and the mountainside were beautiful, along with the views to the east of other ranges, including mountains as far away as Bill Williams Mountain. We broke trail through the snow, then hooked around to the south of Aspen Peak and could see Hualapai Peak still a ways off. It was somewhat discouraging, partially because the trail makes a big "S" instead of going straight at the peak, and because it was taking longer than I had anticipated. We reached the junction with the road, then walked on that toward the southeast. The road dips down quite a bit and we knew we had to regain all elevation lost. Still, there was some snow around and the great smell of pines. We also hadn't seen anyone since the first five minutes on the trail, so there was plentiful solitude. Next we saw a sign saying it was the park boundary, which we didn't realize we were leaving. The road then increased in pitch and began switchbacking up the peak itself. Dead-fall and erosion made it clear that this part of the road hasn't been used in a long time, but the part until a little past the park boundary was clearly still used sometimes. After a snack break close to the top of the road, we found a cairn signalling that we needed to break off from the easy road and begin up a steep dirt pitch with a few boulder climbing sections. A mix of cactus and scrubby trees lined the way up, sometimes limiting our footing to one foot wide at a time. There was even some ice and snow to make it a bit trickier. After a very short "forest" section that was relatively flat, we had to scramble the last thirty vertical feet up to the top on snow covered boulders. The benchmark was easy to get to, but a huge boulder was just across a gap and certainly higher. I looked at getting on the boulder from the shady side, but there weren't enough holds and there was snow on the getting on point. We opted to go for the crack method, where I put my feet on the benchmark boulder and my hands on the summit boulder (which was quite cold). Katrina stood back and verified that I got my hand on the top. Then Katrina went and I stood under her as she did the same. With me spotting, she got higher and could see the top as she touched it... what luxury! Her hands were very cold, but she wanted to see if we could climb up the summit boulder another way. We couldn't find one, then headed back the way we came. Once we made it back to the trail junction, we kept straight and continued through the boy scout camp (who knew that was so big?) to do the western Potato Patch Loop. We found a rickety bridge over a creek bed that had a tiny bit of water puddled in it. Then we descended down the north face and encountered a big group that didn't seem to care where the trail was as they hiked up on and around it. Before making it back to the car we saw a squirrel standing on a rock that looked like it was going to tell us a story. It did not, but we got a good picture of it close up. The hike was very satisfying in that we saw some great views, had mixed conditions, it wasn't too hot or too cold (except on the hands), and we completed our tenth Arizona county highpoint! We then realized that the five remaining are the five tallest...
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2492 ft / 759 m
    Total Elevation Loss:2492 ft / 758 m
    Round-Trip Distance:8.5 mi / 13.7 km
    Grade/Class:Class 4
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Weather:Cool, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2042 ft / 622 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 1672 ft / 510 m; Extra: 370 ft / 112m
    Loss on way in:370 ft / 112 m
    Distance:4.1 mi / 6.6 km
    Route:East Potato Patch
    Start Trailhead:6745 ft / 2055 m
    Time:2 Hours 40 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:2122 ft / 646 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 1672 ft / 510 m; Extra: 450 ft / 137m
    Gain on way out:450 ft / 137 m
    Distance:4.4 mi / 7.1 km
    Route:West Potato Patch
    End Trailhead:6745 ft / 2055 m
    Time:2 Hours 25 Minutes

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