Weavers Needle, Baboquivari Peak
By: Paul Lipsohn
In what was probably the most public private trip of all time, the third annual Jefe Azul New Year's trip began to assemble at Apache Junction on December 30. Cars seemed to pull in from everywhere and we finally headed for Hieroglyphic Canyon with 36 men, women and children. Fortunately, only 26 were climbers and we were soon on the trail to Hieroglyphic Spring. We had a lengthy stop at the spring, mainly to photograph the numerous petroglyphs, then continued to the peak, using a distinctive balancing rock as a guide post. We encountered one short pitch of minimal third class and soon had the entire group on top. From the summit our target for the next day, Weaver's Needle, looked rather imposing below us and was the main topic for discussion. Following a prolonged lunch break we split the party, with 11 heading northwest along the ridge to peak 4869, and the remainder making a leisurely descent to Hieroglyphic Spring. After leaving a register on 4869 we returned direct to the spring, catching the rest of the group there. Thanks to some previous scouting up Peralta Canyon by some of the climbers, we stopped short of the campground in a far better spot. Wood was plentiful and we soon had a cheery fire going. We had a spirited discussion regarding the benefits of an early start, with the proponents of a predawn start winning 3 falls to 1. By 6:00 am we were on our way to the roadhead and started up the Dutchman's trail by flashlight. We followed this good trail through Bluff Saddle and approached the saddle between the two peaks of Weaver's Needle from the east. The crux of the climb begins at the base of this notch, with about a 75 foot 4th class climb, followed by several 3rd class pitches to the summit.
Following a nice lead by Dick May, we soon had 21 climbers enjoying lunch and the view from the summit. Our descent took longer than anticipated and we straggled back to the cars in three's and four's arriving in the late afternoon (score one for the early risers)!
At this point the party began to scatter, with seven or eight remaining to climb Miners Needle the following day, several returning to Los Angeles, two leaving for Mt. Humphreys and the bulk of the group about 16 - leaving for Baboquivari Camp.
The southbound group rendezvoused at the Kitt Peak road west of Tucson, then caravanned through Sells and Topowa, arriving at Baboquivari Camp at 11:40 pm, New Year's eve. Since we had decided to celebrate the New Year by sleeping till 6:30, the evening toasts were offered haif-heartedly while shaking out the sleeping bags.
As we wound up the trail and entered the pinyons high on the trail next morning, I commented idly at the beauty of the day and the almost total absence of snow on the ground. We were thus totally unprepared for the ice wall that greeted us at the last turn. The entire wall was covered with a thin sheet of ice, not quite attached to the rock, with rivers of water running beneath. An occasional fist-sized chunk would break from the top and crash down the canter of the wall , adding to the already ominous pitch. Dave Gladstone, in a moment of weakness, offered to lead, and was soon inching up the wall. Not many members of the group appeared to be very happy with the prospects of this route, and while Dave climbed we searched for alternate ways up. We found a chute 30 feet to the left of the main wall that goes to a chimney and over a chockstone, then returns to the right and a chute leading down to the broad ledge half-way up the face. A traverse across the ledge leads to just below the platform from which point the climb is easy third class. Two other climbers selected to climb Dave's route with the rest following the alternate route. Since the condition of the face had caused unexpected delays, we had a rather hurried lunch on top then returned to the wall and enjoyed a 90 foot rappel to the bottom. We reached the cars about dusk and spent a pleasant evening with our postponed New Year's celebration. Next morning we started our lengthy trip to the city, having enjoyed the Arizona deserts at their finest.
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