Baboquivari Peak, Montezumas Head


By: Ron Jones


Baboquivari Pk towers over its canyon and the Papaqo Campground which was our destination Thanksgiving morning '84. Above the campground is a place so sacred to the Papago that it has been designated as a tribal shrine, I'itoi Ki, a natural and spiritual sanctuary, I'itoi Ki,a cave hidden in the walls of Baboquivari Canyon. This is the home of a coyote like character responsible for the Papago emergence into this world. Waw Kiwuk (cliff drawn in the middle) Peak [Baboquivari] towers over the cave and campground and can be seen from nearly every village on the reservation, and is literally and figuratively at the heart of the Papago universe. The cave, in legend, is an antechamber of a large labyrinth winding within the Baboquivaris. Papago basket-makers weave a design to signify this--a small man standing at the beginning of a circular maze.

Thirty-five of us met 7 am near Sells at the intersection of Arizona Highway 86 and Indian Highway 19 leading south to Topawa. Adrienne and I had arrived a day early to pick up the hiking permit the form which Gene Olsen reproduced in SAGE 175, August-October, 1984. We met Mr Ed Kisto Papago official and Project Manager in charge of visitor development at the Tribal office in Sells and spent the day with him. He took us out to his ranch filled with Papago artifacts and explained to us the Baboquivari District's new effort to encourage low-key tourism in the district. The Papaqo campground, cabin and picnic area with restrooms and spring-fed water are maintained at Baboquivari Park for the use of visitors. We found all these facilities to be very well maintained--including clean flush toilets and ample supplies of iron wood cut for the fireplace.

Complete the permit shown in Gene's article, enclose $3.00 per vehicle per day or $15.00 per group maximum per day, and send to a NEW ADDRESS Baboquivari District Office p. o. Box 3001, Sells, AZ 85th4. Mr Kisto can be reached telephone at his office, 602/ 383 2294. This is a 24 hr recorder and he says he will return your call. Future groups should meet at the campground (shown in Gene's map) and the permit should be obtained to include the night of arrival as there is no legal camping off the road elsewhere on the reservation. Several of our group were harassed during the night after arriving near Sells. After arriving at the campground I sent Maris, John McCully and Jim Farkas ahead to set up 3 belay ropes with the 32 remaining climbers close behind. Three ropes made the belay quick and all who wished made it to the summit in the light mid-day rain showers. Only 3 persons chose not to ~o for the summit via the 60 foot class 4 pitch. I believe 32 climbers is a record for a single party ascent. The 3 rappel routes went routinely and all were back at camp by 4:30. Everyone agreed that Baboquivari is worthy of emblem status. Contact me if you would like more information on I'itoi's cave.

We met a small group of hikers with Gene Olsen at the campground who were preparing their Thanksgiving meal and we escaped the steady rainfall by availing ourselves of the fine camp facilities and regrouping in the large 4 bedroom cabin and its marvelous fireplace. I can't remember who brought the food but we had at least 5 people with turkeys and 2 or 3 more with hams plus sweet potatoes and all the other vegetables and salads along with 5 or 6 pies and a plenty of other deserts.

We didn't finish half of it but saved the remainder for our camp at Cerro Pinacate. What a wonderful feast and offering of thanks to I'itoi. The next morning dawned threatening but temporarily dry. The pinnacle of Waw Kiwulk was covered with snow and we bid Goodbye to Olsen's group just starting for the summit as we left for Organ Pipe Nat'l Monument. The rains restarted shortly after we left.

Fourteen climbers signed on with me to climb the awesome volcanic plu9 of Montezuma's Head in the Monument. Most of the remaining climbers went on a private climb of Ajo. The cl 5.3 climb of Montezuma's Head went routinely and exactly as I described in SAGE 164 of May-July 1982. Light rain followed by hail met us on the final pitch or two and the descent. I give great thanks to Maris Valkass for sharing the lead and Diane Rosentreter, Lisa Freundlich, Dennis Baker and Jim Farkas for belaying and to Elden Hughes for sweeping. Tom Ferguson, Terry Rivera, Patty Carpenter Paul Hughes, Ron Bartell, Bob Ferguson and Carolyn West were the climbers who negotiated the 3 short class 5 pitches. This undoubtedly is the largest climbing group to make the peak.

Our trip concluded that evening at Lukeville on the Arizona-Sonora border where we were joined by Vic, Sue and Don for a private climb of Cerro Pinacate.

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