Humphreys Peak, AZ


A successful ascent of the highest peak in Arizona, Humphreys Peak is just outside Flagstaff, Arizona.

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After flying in to Phoenix, I was staying at Joan's house. Meanwhile. Bob had driven down from Boise. Bob and I spoke on the phone on Friday night and agreed that the weather report for the following day looked good enough- a 10% chance of afternoon thunderstorms. So I left Phoenix at 3am to meet Bob in Flagstaff at 5:30.


After breakfast at Denny's, we were on the trail at 7am sharp. It was light, the sky was clear, and the temperature was warmer at the Ski Bowl than in town.

It didn't take long to reach the snow- it had stormed hard on Monday. Plus, the route down low is mostly in the trees, and protected from the sun.

We walked for about an hour before we finally got to a sunny spot. We took a short break, ate, and stripped off more clothes. At this point, we were down to a light top and gloves.

The saddle between Agassiz and Humphreys is at about 11,800'. This gave us our first view of the distant summit. We also could finally see that the mountain is actually a giant caldera, with its northeastern border blown out.

To the south, Mt. Agassiz rounds out the rim of the caldera. Since we were looking at its northern side, there was lots of snow. Tucked under its snowy shoulder is Ski Bowl ski area, with the top of the chair lift just visible at the extreme right skyline.

Once above the saddle, the trail seems to be a bit harder to follow. But with footprints in the snow leading the way, today it was easy. Too bad the weather wasn't better.

Initially the trail climbs fairly quickly from the saddle. But with only 800' to go, that doesn't last too long.

Then it's more of a gradual traverse. You can see Bob circled in red at the right edge of the picture.

And not long after, it was 10:15 and we were on top of Humphreys Peak, the highest point in Arizona. There was a slight breeze, and although we could see a few clouds on the distant horizon, there weren't any in our neighborhood. We spoke briefly with 2 gentlemen who then departed, leaving us alone on the top for 45 minutes.

When I took this picture, we had added clothing because we had been on top for a while.

We had just shouldered our packs to head down when the next person arrived at the summit. From then on, we met a constant stream of climbers headed up, in all manner of dress. I would estimate we saw at least 50 people.

The smoke in this picture is someone burning ground in the valley.

The trail is quite narrow at times, so on the way down we had to yield to the many climbers. And although the snow had softened, there were still some icy spots. So we walked carefully. Even so, we got back to the car at 1:15, and were back at Bob's motel in Flagstaff by 2.

We felt lucky to enjoy such a gorgeous day, and for late October, particularly so.

Mr. Natural Home | 2005 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski