Two days after my aborted first attempt and the weather looks way more promising so I'm pretty confident this attempt will be successful. After all, I did more research, poring over maps, sat images, photos and previous GPS routes and cameup with three routes that may lead to success.
I stopped on Telegraph Canyon Road just past the second cattle guard, set up my tripod and took a number of full zoom photos to help with my route selection. After scanning the complete eastern face of Picketpost I realized one option is simply not feasible and the next did not appear much better so I fell back what I considered the best approach, which was the return route of my first attempt.
Prepping at the TH:
I'm laying everything out on the hood of the car to make sure I'm not missing anything before suiting up
. Actually it didn't take as long as usual because I decided to go a bit leaner with 10 lbs less in my CamelBak than last attempt. Almost ready to go.
All of a sudden I heard what came to mind as a galloping horse but not knowing what it was or where it was coming from I didn't waste any time grabbing my camera, taking it out of its bag, flipping it to Movie
and turning it on. But in that few seconds a huge coyote comes tearing out of the brush not 20' from me at full bore with a look that seemed it was desperately trying to get away from something.
Ok, so I figured if something is chasing it, I'd like to get a shot of whatever that would be and waited... and waited... nothing! Such high drama was over in seconds with nothing left to show for it.
Oh well, I'm here for the ascent, so let's get started:
1. No 100 yard warmup this time... barely a hundred feet and I'm climbing a steep embankment through ocotillo, prickly pear cactus, and cholla. But though the calorie burn starts sooner, once past the first 200' elevation gain the general route continues at a more reasonable and steady incline. This route was great! I got to the ravine choke point in 32 minutes, less than half the time of two days ago.
2. Immediately after the choke point comes the first real aerobic test... it took 24 minutes to gain 400' of elevation in less than 1000' of forward progress. Whew!
3. After that I needed to stop at the small saddle and take in another 250 calories to fuel the next even steeper section.
4. Man! This is the killer... I thought the previous section of 4' up for every 10' forward was rough... This last section took me up 545' in only 827' forward progress... that's climbing up 6' 7" every 10' forward!
5. By the time I reached a sheer wall of 15-20' tall rocks
my arms and legs were both getting shaky from the effort, so although I was within 80 feet horizontally from my goal, the vertical 40 feet left to climb presented a bigger obstacle than everything up to that point.
6. So close, yet this section would require assistance of some kind... But I simpy did not
have the energy to jump up 3-4 feet to grab onto what may not even be a stable hand-hold, let alone pull myself up with no footholds. It was decision time but in reality, being completely alone, the only rational decision was to give it up and head back down while I had enough energy to do that with some measure of safety.
7. Although let down by another attempt coming up short, the weather was great so I spent more time taking in the awesome scenery by sight as well as with the camera. The snow on Madera & Pinal Peaks was something I could not see two days before. The trip down passed more easily than I expected, of course I'd been up, down and up most of the route before.
8. Almost to the TH and my head is killing me... that's when I realized I had my Hero HD video camera still pressing against my forehead. What a relief it felt to take it off. Now that I think about it probably I should have taken a photo of myself with the square divot in my forehead to prove it. But then I ended up with over two hours of video.
I know, I know... nobody would sit through two hours of huffing and puffing so I only uploaded the last 15 minutes of the climb before turning back. For those who enjoy seeing/hearing someone feel the pain expending prodigious amounts of energy, have at it:
Ok, now I have hike Picketpost the usual way and take a look down from above to see if there is a better way to do the last 80'. If so, I might look at doing a shuttle hike up one side and down the other to finally call this task accomplished.