Superstition Mountains, Weavers Needle


By: Fred Camphausen


Our first assembly point for the long drive to Arizona was at Denny's Restaurant at the I-15E Orange Show Rd offramp in San Berdoo. Four carloads of people climbed into Westy's Maxi-van and then we took off. At dawn we picked up John Orange, another partner in our little climbing adventure, at his motel in Phoenix where he stayed while on company travel. The next meeting place was at Sambo's in Apache Junction where we picked up another one. This intrepid soul, name of Dana Burks, followed the van alone all the way from San Berdoo after having not recognized us and missing the connection. We now consisted of 9 people.

It was getting pretty warm when we finally took off for the Superstition Mtn roadhead. Prior published directions to the roadhead proved to be fairly accurate. The trail goes to "Hieroglyphic Cyn" which contains a small spring and a display of Indian rock etchings similar to the Shoshonean Coso Range petroglyphs. After climbing to a balanced rock on the skyline we followed a trail along the ridge and arrived on the summit of Superstition Mtn in a hail of flying ladybugs. Clouds came to hold the heat to a reasonable value; however, this was still a 2-quart climb and we reached the beer locker in Westy's van not a moment too soon. Dinner, being held somewhat in jest at Cobbs Restaurant in A.J., was highlighted by Dana teaching us how to eat trout cheeks. After re-provisioning at a mini-market we drove to the Peralta roadhead. A bunch of cows, along with their residue, loitered in our rude camp and created an added complication for those of us who clung to the touching sentimentality of sleeping on the ground without being besmirched by some itinerant cow.

Barbara Reber was along as a leader and she had climbed Weavers Needle before, and John Orange had climbed it solo once, so we felt we had a pretty good handle on the climb. We woke up at dawn and chased a black cow out of our sleeping area. Barbara didn't feel well at all, like the cow had maybe stepped on her, so she decided to stay in the sack. A Tonto NF ranger was there to acquaint us with the rules. A "pass" similar to a wilderness permit had to be filled out. We hiked the Dutchman's Tr to the Needle Tr and then cactus-whacked to the base of the E side of the needle. John Orange led up the first pitch and put in 2 medium chocks. Campy followed up and past to investigate a steep gully to the R, which didn't go. Belaying with 2 ropes went on, to bring people up the L crack to the notch. Belays were also accepted by most for the short pitch below the summit. We reached the spacious summit at 2:30 pm and proceeded to celebrate this success with a bottle of 1978 Sonoma Petit Sirah. "Ski" had just climbed her first Cl. 4 summit. John was on this particular mountain for the 3rd time and he brought along a photo panorama made on a prior trip on which to write in more names of surrounding peaks and canyons using the topo map. We finally left the summit at 4 pm. We no longer held the notion that we ought to traverse the needle from E to W. Much time was used in rappelling and tripping after dark through the catclaw and cactus back to the trail, and we didn't get back to the cars until 10 pm. Barbara was waiting, feeling ok now, and wondering why in the hell it took us 15 hours to climb one pee-ant peak! After settling that one, we debated which restaurant we should again celebrate our accomplishments in, but in our hearts we knew that there was only one place where we could go at midnight and that was Sambo's.

Speaking of Sambo's, Steve Langley said that the Sierra Club ought to have a "100 Sambo's" award, meaning you have to get signed off on that many while climbing list peaks.

The 9 stalwarts who condescended to attend this weekend trip were: Campy (ldr) + Ski, Barbara Reber (ldr), Westy Fletcher, Bob Emerick, Steve Langley, Dana Burks, John Orange, and ... (?) Oh well, maybe it was only 8.

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