Have been checking out this hike for a couple of years now. I knew the climb would need to be done early (or late) in the season and was finally set to attempt last weekend; however, the day before, I was slammed by a NASTY case of food poisoning. Had to postpone.
Despite thinking it was too late (which it WAS) I got a wild hair and recruited a hiking buddy from work ("Matt"- who had NEVER hiked in the canyon before, would get a nifty and rough 9 mile initiation up Battleship
). We got a good start around 7am and quickly sped down the Bright Angel doing our best to avoid slow Europeans.
June (or summer) is a very bad time for this climb. The Battleship is VERY sun exposed. I thought 2 quarts of water would easily suffice and started to worry when I found out Matt brought even less.
(Fortuntately, the 1.5 mile rest house was open for business with it's patented 80+ degree drinking water
Our scorching fast pace halted when we arrived (as described) just past the first long switchback west of the 1.5 mile rest area. It was frustratingly difficult finding any resemblance of a route/trail along the 1st several hundred feet. We decided to just "go for it" and started heading North, eventually finding the (lower) trail. With the numerous cairns, we were able to route-find from there all the way to the saddle. (A few precarious spots, but nothing major).
After a short break at the saddle, we continued onward BUT missed a clutch cairn on the left and went much too low along the bottom-east side of the butte. About 1/2 way across, I spotted "The Duck
"...a unique looking rock formation described at another site (see my pics). Once I caught sight of this unique feature, I knew we were golden. We shot a 90 degree turn and climbed directly up the side of butte, eventually finding the trail we missed.
The trail continues climbing north to the front side of "The Duck"; then scrambling up, following the cairns, you head south to the very back
of "The Duck" where the described cracks are located; the second of which has a 15' vertical climb (the crux).
After climbing these cracks in a northerly fashion, the route cuts back south where you can easily follow the cairns and scramble to the top. After a nice break on the shady, western slopes, we signed the log and checked out all the historic graffiti on the far south end.
Traversing back was definitely easier...we got a tad lost again just before hitting the Bright Angel.
Rewarded ourselves back in Flag with the AYCE food court at SIZZLER. Fun but WARM Day. Save this hike for cooler times.