Humphreys Peak, AZ


A long snowshoe attempt on Humphreys Peak runs out of time and steam.

Note: click images to see a larger version in a new window

Julie and I had attempted Humphreys Peak, the highest peak in Arizona, back in 2003, over Christmas. Although it was a sunny day, it was brutally cold when we parked the car: 10 below zero. We started off on snowshoes, but had to turn back when we couldn't keep her feet from freezing (one round of ice-cold feet on my belly was enough for one day). Note the wind on the summit that day, viewed from the north. Summit ridge of Humphreys


So when Julie declared that she was bound and determined to attempt Mt. Humphreys on her own this year, I figured she needed an early Christmas present. Here she is modeling her Koflach Artis Expe, at one time known to be the warmest mountaineering boot on the market. You'll have to look close, because she has really small boots.

Summit ridge of Humphreys

So on the day after Christmas (spent at her mom's house in Phoenix), she drove up to Flagstaff a little late, arriving at the ski area at 8am. The late start was an attempt to obey arcane Forest Service regulations that say you have to have a permit in the winter (but only in winter). You're supposed to then register at the ski area. But the ski area doesn't open early enough for a safe start. Not only that, they didn't know what she was talking about when she followed the instructions to register. This situation is beyond idiotic- it's dangerous for climbers.

OK... done ranting.... so she got a late start, and headed out. The picture shows the weather for the day, except that it was in the teens with a light breeze.

Summit ridge of Humphreys
So at about 3:30, after passing some other climbers who had camped out part way up the climb, Julie made it to the saddle at 11,800'. The other climbers were trying to entice her to "go for it" because she was close. In fact, she was only a 'Table Rock' away (this is a Platt family unit of measure based on a local hike with about 800' of gain). The picture shows the summit on the right, as seen on my 2005 climb. Summit ridge of Humphreys

Fortunately, Julie followed her training and decided to head back. It was too late.

The web cam shows what the mountain looked like at 5:30, about the time she got back to the car.

Summit ridge of Humphreys
And this is what Julie was seeing as she got back to the car: Sun down, temperature dropping.

The boots worked perfectly, and I'm proud that she showed good judgement.

Summit ridge of Humphreys

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