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Prominent Point via Finger Rock Canyon
Route

Prominent Point via Finger Rock Canyon

 
Prominent Point via Finger Rock Canyon

Page Type: Route

Location: Arizona, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 32.36614°N / 110.89669°W

Object Title: Prominent Point via Finger Rock Canyon

Route Type: Scrambling

Season: Fall, Winter

Time Required: Most of a day

Rock Difficulty: Class 4

Grade: II

Route Quality: 
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Page By: RobSC

Created/Edited: Dec 3, 2007 / Dec 7, 2007

Object ID: 362473

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Page Score: 75.81%  - 6 Votes 

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Overview

Finger Rock Canyon provides for the simplest and most direct line to the summit of Prominent Point. For much of the hike, you are hemmed into the canyon, so the views are not as expansive as those for the Southwest Ridge, but if you choose to bushwack up the canyon bottom, it provides for a challenging desert adventure. For those who prefer easier going, there are use trails that climb higher up Mt. Kimball, then traverse over to join the route where it branches off from the ascent route for Finger Rock.

Getting There

The route begins at the Finger Rock Canyon trailhead which is at the end of Alvernon Avenue, about a mile north of Skyline Road, and is approximately 3100 feet above sea level.

Route Description

 
Prominent Point from the South
The upper part of the Route to the summit of Prominent Point, traverses left from the gully leading up to Finger Rock to the tree filled gash on the left of the picture using the grass, bush and shindaggar slopes beneath the steep summit cliffs of the peak. There are cliffs and a significant break between the cactus in the foreground and the base of Finger Rock Canyon.
The first mile of this route is an easy walk along the Finger Rock Canyon trail (#42), past various desert plants and luxury houses. Be sure that you turn left at the fork and don't inadvertently take the right fork to Ponotoc Ridge (#410). At mile 1.1, the trail reaches Finger Rock Spring, and then soon starts switchbacking up the east side of Finger Rock Canyon. Whenever I have climbed this route to Finger Rock or to Prominent Point, I have left the trail, and followed the wash up the base of Finger Rock Canyon. Initially, the going has sections of brush but is not too steep. However, the last mile beneath finger rock is a classic steep desert bushwack with scrambling, cactus, brush, and makes for an all around entertaining time. When one gets fairly high, there is a point where the base of the canyon cliffs out, and it is necessary to scramble to the left and then make a rising traverse to the right (north) up through the cliff band on 4th class rock. All of this is on the left (west) side of the canyon. The holds for a few moves here aren't the best and there's a bit of exposure, but the ledges you are on are large enough that it never seemed all that scary to me.

Once past this steep point, Finger Rock will be directly above you to the north. Instead of proceeding up to it, look slightly to the left and you will see steep cliffs descending down from the upper regions of Prominent Point. These end at a grassy slope that traverses several hundred feet to the right, into a gash rising up just to the east of Prominent Point's Eastern Summit. Traverse across to this gash, then follow it up past trees to the ridgeline. Do not turn left into the gully between the two summits along this stretch unless you are aiming to climb the shorter Western Summit. At the ridgeline, expansive views of the upper reaches of Pima Canyon appear. After admiring them, turn left and make a short scramble to the highest summit of Prominent Point.

From the upper reaches of Finger Rock Canyon, it is an easy matter to continue up to Finger Rock, and to climb the "Finger Rock Guard" to its right. All three summits could be climbed by a proficient team in a single outing.

 
Summit of Prominent Point
The summit of Prominent Point.
 
Cliffs on Prominent Point
View looking south from the tree filled gash.
In his Finger Rock page, Jeff Moore describes an alternate route which avoids the brush and the 4th class section of the canyon floor, but adds on additional elevation gain and mileage. (I have not personally taken this trail, so can't speak about its relative ease or difficulty.) Instead of turning into the base of the canyon at Finger Rock Springs, continue for another two miles up the Finger Rock Trail to an elevation of 5000 ft. where you reach a flat grassy patch overlooking the canyon. This will be immediately after several steep and rocky slabs and due east of the hidden Finger Rock. Descend north on a use trail 200 feet down into the canyon, rather than turning to the east towards Mt. Kimball. The trail, marked by cairns, will then work steeply up the canyon to a saddle north-east of Finger Rock. From here, aim for the west side of Finger Rock. When the trail splits, take the right branch to reach the Finger Rock Saddle to the west of Finger Rock. From here, it is possible to descend south a couple hundred feet to reach the break in the cliffs to the west, where you join the route coming up Finger Rock Canyon. Alternately, you can take the left fork of the use trail to the summit of the Guard with its nice view, then descend steeply to the south to get beyond the cliffs on the west face of the Guard, then traverse across the slope, under the summit cliffs of Prominent Point, then up the gash to the summit.
 
Summit Detail of Prominent Point
 

Once, we attempted to reach the summit of Prominent Point directly up the ridge from the Finger Rock Saddle, and turned around when it got a bit exposed. This route would probably make a nice adventure, though.

Essential Gear

Water would be wise year round and warm clothes in the winter, but technical climbing gear really isn't needed for this route. If you are climbing directly up the canyon, there is a brief 4th class section which some might prefer a rope for, but every time I've been there I've just scrambled down so I can't really speak as to whether there are good anchors for a belay or a rappel. There is a bit of scrambling again right at the summit, but it is fairly straightforward and secure.

External Links

The page for Finger Rock gives a good description of two ways to reach the base of Finger Rock. From here, an ascent of Prominent Point can be made fairly easily by descending to below the summit cliffs, and ascending by the route described above.

Images

View up Finger Rock CanyonCliffs on Prominent Point