This hike starts from First Water trailhead by taking the
Second Water trail east to the Boulder Canyon trail where you then proceed
south to a point abeam the southern tip of Battleship Mountain. Here you
depart the trail and climb the mountain from the southern tip to the peak at
the northern end. Reverse the route for your return.
This has undoubtedly been my most "epic" hike so far this
season. From the moment you mount the southern tip of this massive formation,
you can't believe what you're seeing. It is a veritable lunar landscape
surrounded by breathtaking sheer drops in all directions. Make sure to pause
here and take in the mind blowing 360-degree panorama, because the unreal
ridge stretching out before you to the north beckons like a powerful magnet.
A WORD OF FAIR WARNING:
This should be considered
a difficult hike for advanced hikers only.
Scrambling and bouldering skills
are a must (1). To the individual not comfortable with
heights, this hike has the potential to be a real life nightmare. That being
said, there is no technical climbing involved, and at no time did I feel like
I was at any real risk of falling. "Exposure
" is a term used by
climbers to describe the degree of vulnerability in the event of a fall.
Although there is some very real exposure
to be encountered on this
hike, the risk of falling itself is extremely minimal. Therefore, as is
mostly the case, dealing with the element of exposure
is more of a
psychological battle than a physical one.
DIRECTIONS: Depart First Water trailhead on Second Water
trail heading east through Garden Valley. Just as you begin your descent into
Boulder Canyon, you will get your first real glimpse of the Battleship
. This fortress-like rock formation, being very long and narrow, is
very appropriately named and since the only sensible way aboard is over the
stern, we must continue ahead to the Boulder Canyon trail intersection and
proceed south till you are abeam the southern tip. We chose a spot where the
slope visibly mellows, but not all the way to the saddle directly south of the
The climb to the base of the cliff is very typical of
most rock formations in the Superstitions. It involves making your way up a
45-degree slope of loose rock that has fallen away over the centuries and
although short, it is easily the least pleasant part of the hike. Once at the
base of the low cliff, you will encounter a
that provides a shady spot for a quick "powerbar" break prior to
ascending the cliff.
From facing the cave, head up to your right, then back
left over the top of the cave, then pretty much scramble straight up to the
top. As you emerge on top it will pretty much take your breath away. You are
greeted by a very flat alien landscape with sheer drops on either side. The
views down in to the Lower LaBarge Box
The massive, snaking
ridge stretches out before you to the north
and looks quite daunting indeed. This area presents some of the neatest
camping sites I've seen anywhere and the hike to this point is only moderate
in difficulty. Since this southernmost "mesa" is awesome in and of itself,
this is a great termination point for those less adventurous types.
From the northern tip of the south mesa you must
that involves steep drops
on either side. As you press on, you are continually presented with seemingly
insurmountable obstacles only to find at least one way to "solve the puzzle".
At the base of the north peak you are finally confronted with an
insurmountable obstacle in the form of a vertical ridge of crumbling rock.
Not to despair, however, the solution lies in descending down to your left,
proceeding along the affectionately named "Ball bearing Slope", then
recommencing you're your climb to the true peak from a
. False summits are a fact of life all along this hike
and the nasty phenomenon tends to rear its ugly head right to the end. But,
finally after as much scrambling as hiking you reach the
and the aching gluteals and tender palms are well worth it.
The top resembles the Flatiron in many ways including the
fact that the peak itself stands over a flat protrusion forming the true
juts out boldly
to the north in this
case. The vertical drops approach as much as 500 feet in this area. The
surprisingly large plateau is strikingly beautiful with eerie
. It begs to be
thoroughly explored, so take plenty of time. There were absolutely no signs
of any previous visitors anywhere on the mountain and the large cairn at the
edge of the north precipice was our own testimonial "monument" (2).
To return, merely reverse your
but as a word of caution from experience, this is often easier said than
done. Things look completely different in the opposite direction, so take
careful note of any landmarks along the way as you go to help preclude the old
"now, which way did we come up?" syndrome.
(1) By scramble, I basically mean you must use your hands to climb or
descend. I would consider bouldering to be slightly more difficult
involving a very short, but steeper incline, but not requiring technical
equipment due to a low degree of exposure.
(2) I am in no way claiming any kind of first ascent. Indeed, I have made
an acquaintance with an individual claiming to have previously climbed it. I
do however consider this very rarely trodden territory. - Mar 06 2002 Fritzski