Wow, what a classic AZ hike! It's a tough one, but the effort is worth it. Ken, Brian, Katrina and I started from Sabino a little after 7:30 and made our way into Esperero Canyon. The trail sure doesn't waste any time climbing up after this...up to a nice saddle for a break, then into the oak-shaded canyon. After a nice reprieve (and hiking past the waterfall...which wasn't flowing today), the trail began relentlessly climbing to the Cathedral Rock Trail junction. More steep trail after this, but we could see the trail had been improved recently. No overgrowth or brush blocked it, so big thanks to whoever did that.
By 11:00, we were at the saddle and the start of the bushwhack. Ken led us across to the base of the scramble. The rock is great and the views were ridiculous as we got higher. The final obstacle - the steep crack - had 2 good ropes in it. The black rope looks new and is quite secure. After making your way up that, one more climb puts you on the large summit boulder where we soaked in the sun and relaxed!
Nice hike down. Couldn't have asked for better weather. It's a beast, but it's a fun one.