Rusty Baillie Route, II, 5.4

Page Type
Arizona, United States, North America
Route Type:
Long hike, 2 pitches of 5.4, 4th cl. scramble
Time Required:
Most of a day
5.4 Face climbing

Route Quality: 2 Votes

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Rusty Baillie Route, II, 5.4
Created On: Mar 26, 2005
Last Edited On: Nov 17, 2014


From the town of Quartzsite, Arizona, drive South on US Highway 95 for more or less 20 miles to "KOFA National Wildlife Refuge, Palm Canyon" sign. The sign is located little over 0.5 mile south of milepost 86. Turn left (E) and drive some 7 miles on excellent dirt road to its end in the Palm Canyon trailhead parking lot. Camping is permitted anywhere along this road and almost anywhere in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge. No permits are required.

Route Description

From the Palm Canyon trailhead parking lot, follow the trail (E) up Palm Canyon for about 0.5 miles to it's end at a viewing point for the Fan Palm grove high up on the north wall of the canyon. Continue up the narrow canyon (no trail) to where it opens up into wide slope at about 3,000 foot elevation level. Make a sharp right turn (to about 3 oclock or South) and hike up the steep slope. After several hundreds of feet are gained, move (E) to gain the large canyon which leads to the summit plateau. Follow this canyon to its end, where trees, brush and steep headwall seemingly block all progress.

The Rusty Baillie route starts here on the left side at the very end of the canyon behind a scrub oak tree.
The 1st pitch consists of about 20 feet of easy 5th class climbing, protected by fixed piton to reach small bowl or cave up above. Just inside the left side of the bowl/cave are two fixed pitons for belay anchor. Belay your second from these pins. The 2nd pitch is a bit more demanding and starts from the left edge of the cave. Climb up 5.4 face/depression for about 30 feet to reach cemented piton and after additional 15-20 feet, you'll reach another fixed (cemented) piton. The route continues for some 20-30 feet to 2 bolt belay/rappel anchor. Since this makes for short pitch, we climbed past the belay/rappel anchor (we used it for running belay) and climbed additional 40-50 feet to almost the end of the gully. We coiled our ropes, crossed the top of the gully to the right and scrambled upward, first on 4th class rock, later easing to loose 3rd class. After a couple of hundred feet of scrambling, a broad bowl is reached.
From here the summit can be seen as a large "sandy" colored round top 0.25 miles to the NE. It's easy walk from here to the summit (4877 feet). The view of the Kofa pinnacles and vast empty desert in all directions is not to be forgoten. 

Retrace your route down to the belay/rappel bolts. From there single rap on two 60 meter ropes gets you down to the base of the headwall. We left our packs at the base of the headwall so we would not have to carry them up the technical scramble. That was a good idea. From the base of the headwal, retrace your steps (and brace your knees) all the way down to the desert floor. 2800 feet elevation gain, 4-5 miles. Average time for a party of two is 6-10 hours RT. 

The route was put up some years ago (mid to late 80s?) by the well known South African, British and Prescott Arizona climber Rusty Baillie, hence the name. 

For a  bit more information on who Rusty Bailie is see this link

Essential Gear

Two 60 meter ropes (we carried 8mm twins), harness, rock shoes, couple of quick draws with biners, a few slings with biners,extra over the shoulder knotted slings to replace the old ones at the rap station, a few extra biners, rap/belay device. Helmet would not be a bad idea and headlamp might prove useful. We carried 2 quarts of water each for the mild March temperatures. The terrain in the Kofa mountains is very rugged, hikes are steep, vegetation is mostly cactus and such, so be prepared with good clothing.

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.

Rusty Baillie Route, II, 5.4

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