Location: North 35:20.784, West 111:40.677 (GPS at the summit)
Difficulty: (YDS) class 1
Climbed November 12. 2006
How to get there:
A good starting point is the city Flagstaff in Northern Arizona.
From here, take Hwy. 180 in the direction of the Grand Canyon. After
approximately 11 kilometer (7 miles), look for a sign saying Snowbowl Road.
This road forks right, take it and drive uphill for another 11 kilometer as this
road winds it way up to the Snowbowl ski area. There is a large parking area just
below the ski area with big signs indicating that this indeed is the
trailhead for hiking Humphreys Peak.
The location is N35:19.861, W111:42.696, and the elevation is 2843 meter.
From the parking lot there is a pretty obvious trail that heads
across a field then enters the forest. The uphill angle is very gentle as
the trail zig-zags in pretty long sections up the hillside. Eventually, the
trail contours a bit more around on the south and makes another gentle traverse
before it again runs in wide switch-backs up to the saddle connecting
Humphreys Peak with the slightly lower Mount Agassiz. From this saddle, proceed
on the trail up along the ridge to Humphreys Peak. The trail stays a bit on the
left side of the ridgeline most of the way. There are some wooden poles marking the
trail in a few places where it may be hard to see among rocks and boulders. There are
a couple of false summits along the ridge before you cross a flat area and climb the
final small summit hump.
I had come from Las Vegas the day before,
picking Bob Packard up on the Flagstaff
railroad station. Bob arrived by van shuttle from Phoenix, directly after
successful climbs of the highest mountains in Cameroon and Ethiopia.
Despite his long trip, Bob was all motivated to guide me up his local mountain,
Humphreys Peak, the Arizona state highpoint on the following day.
We started out with a beautiful blue sky and perfect weather. The time was 0930 and
we quickly gained elevation as we walked along the forest trail.
Higher up, but still well within the forest, the trail had gotten a very smooth
layer of slick ice. As the trail also slanted downhill in this area it became
very difficult to make further progress. Bob continued with caution and suceeded by way of non-existent
friction, while I quickly put on my crampons for better grip. We agreed that this
indeed was "the crux" of the route to Humphreys this day.
We soon gained the saddle and continued along the trail passing the false summits, arriving at the
summit at 1315. Unfortunately, the weather had turned cloudy and visibility was somewhat variable, but
never truly good. We had lunch and made our entry in the trail register. The weather turned a bit
colder and we decided to head down in order to keep warm. We met surprisingly many people along the
trail. One party arrived at the summit before us while numerous parties came up while we descended the
upper part of the mountain.
The descent was easy with the exception of "the crux" area where Bob explored a lower variant, partly
on his butt, while I took a somewhat higher route, hanging onto trees along the way. Bob guided me
along a variation of the route in the very lower part, descending more open terrain (ski slopes).
We reached the car at 1630, a 7 hour roundtrip under the expert guidance of a man that has climbed
this peak about 30 times.
I am grateful for having had the opportunity to do a hike with Bob.
His example (at age 70) should serve as motivation and inspiration for everyone
regarding how much and how long one may go on hiking and climbing the finest mountains
Thanks a lot for great
hospitality and great company!
The Hoover dam, on the way to Flagstaff. The construction of a new
bridge for the highway can be seen to the right.