Winter Climb, Mt Humphreys Arizona
Here is a fun fast climb for those looking to get some easy snow climbing experience. Mt Humphreys, located 12 miles from Flagstaff Arizona offers a good starting point for building snow climbing skills if climbed in the winter. I'm not sure how long the snow lasts into the spring, but we climbed it in the winter. Clocking in at 12,633 ft you get to feel a little altitude, but it doesn't take too long to get up and back down. I had been there before earlier in the winter and the snow was way deep and even with snowshoes it was slow going. March proved a much better month to climb as much of the base had settled and compacted and there was not alot of new snow. Good snowshoes with hardy crampons and a set of poles will get you up. Check in with the rangers, get your B.C. permit and sign in at the trailhead. Just a word about the rangers- they will try to scare you with their safety lecture. We started from the parking lot of the Arizona Snow bowl (9,500) at about 7am. Head basically north north-west to get on the ski slopes. Walk along the bottom, then across the beginner slope heading slightly up hill. If you go between the two lift pilons you will see a break in the trees on the other side. This marks the start of the trailhead.The route we took is not the "normal" route. We took a smaller trail that splits off to the left of the main trail after you climb down and back up the ravine. This route takes you through the "rock fall" area and near the plane crash site. The trail is pretty easy to follow if you just keep going up and left. At the top of the second rock fall area (maybe about two football fields long) start going more up than left and you'll soon be out of the trees and on the upper slopes. Its really windy out of the trees and by the looks of the tracks, many people turn back here. Once out of the trees start heading up and right traversing to the rocky slopes and a great view of Mt. Agassiz, Arizona's second highest peak. Unfortunatly Agassiz is off limits to climbing and they will fine you if they catch you up there. You should be able to see the long ridge that connects these peaks straight up from there. Gain the ridge by going up, winding through the rock patches and snow fields. Once at the top on the ridge, turn left, put your head down and begin "the slog". Its a long ridge and the wind will pretty much be in your face the whole way. You'll find wonderfull views all around to keep your mind off all the false summits. The last 30ft or so is a steep little step to get the actual summit. We topped out at about 11:30 am passing one other party on their way down. Take some pics, smile and try not to get blown off! To get back down just reverse course.
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