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Peak 4910 - The Cleaver, AZ

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Guide 20 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson NW
4.4 of 5 by 7
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Difficulty 4.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 5.4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,953 feet
Elevation Gain 1,957 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,092 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 15.86
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Creek & Peak
Backpack No
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
59  2016-12-18 mike85741
12  2014-12-19 rvcarter
19  2014-12-19
Table Mountain - Catalinas
15  2013-11-08 rvcarter
1  2013-08-23
Pusch Peak
17  2012-12-12 sirena
4  2010-11-29 keepmoving
16  2008-05-04 fricknaley
Author fricknaley
author avatar Guides 93
Routes 383
Photos 3,724
Trips 2,745 map ( 18,154 miles )
Age 44 Male Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Nov, Feb, Jan → 6 AM
Seasons   Early Winter to Late Spring
Sun  6:11am - 6:22pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Come Bleed on the Cleaver!
by fricknaley

Warning: This is an extreme Pusch Ridge bushwhack: Exposure, bad footing and blood-letting catclaw are a guarantee. Why even do it? Serious Catalina and Pusch Ridge hikers have to, I guess.

Background: Peak 4910 is known locally as The Cleaver. It's a lop-sided pyramid that sits in the saddle between Pusch Peak to the west and Bighorn to the east. It's west bank is fairly graded, it's northeast face is vertical. From most of Tucson you cannot even see it, certain vantages in the city allow a brief glimpse. The best view is from the Pima Canyon trail in western Pusch Ridge. The Cleaver is a beautiful, hidden (guarded even) peak of mystery. Can you get there? Is it worth trying? Hike the canyon enough and these sinister thoughts will slowly warp your sense of reason...I've got to climb the Cleaver.

Please know this really is a wicked bushwhack. Bad wicked. Fun wicked. Bloody wicked.

Route: The best way to the Cleaver (if there is one) is to take off from the popular Pima Canyon trailhead and head into the canyon. Pima Canyon is one of the most popular trails in Tucson. If you live here, you've been here. The early reaches of Pima are easy. The trail passes through some private property as it crosses the desert and slowly climbs towards the canyon. The views of Pusch Ridge here are always great, especially the south bank of Pusch Peak. This is easy, smooth sailing. As you get to the canyon proper the walls narrow in and quickly tower over you. The wash is initially on your right, you'll cross over it right when you get to the canyon. Don't be surprised to see a little water in the wash, Pima holds it well. As you enter the canyon you also get your first look at Table Mountain high up to your left with it's distinctive diamond-shaped southern face, another Pusch Ridge monster for another day.

Just follow Pima Canyon for a touch over 1.5 miles, you'll cross the wash a couple more times. Ultimately it will be on your left. What you are looking for is a spot along the trail where you'll notice things become considerably more lush. And Cottonwoods, big huge cottonwoods on the right. Again, if you've been here you know the spot. This is about 1.55-1.6 miles from the trailhead. Just before you get here look up and left. There's the Cleaver just peaking around the corner at you. Don't go much farther. If you've got a great look at the Cleaver in it's entirety you have gone to far. At this little shaded paradise you are going to have to break left off the trail and go west. It's gonna be ugly, it's gonna get worse.

What you basically need to do is follow the drainage coming down from the west end of the Cleaver. There is a saddle at the base of the broad west slope. The drainage comes down from here. This is your target. There is no trail, no route and nowhere else to really go. As best you can I would recommend following the drainage and breaking out when you just can't break through the growth. The is the drainage overgrown. Catclaw. Shindaggers. More catclaw. The higher up the drainage you get, the steeper and narrower it gets. Breaking out to avoid getting shredded becomes harder. I mostly broke out right when I could. The footing isn't too bad until you get almost to the top. Once you get near the top of the drainage I would recommend breaking out the LEFT side now. The right wall becomes vertical. The drainage is so overgrown you couldn't possibly move in it. If you break left near the top you can ride the grassy and shindaggery ridge up the final push to the saddle. The footing is dicey here. Even some of the larger boulders are unstable. The saddle is basically 1 mile from where you left the trail and about 1200 feet above. There is a cairn. To your left is Pusch Peak. To your right peaking around the Cleaver is Bighorn. The view down the drainage you climbed to Pima Canyon and Rosewood Point is gorgeous and scary. Can you make it down? Yes.

Now immediately to your right is a wall that leads to the western slope of the Cleaver. This is the only place where you need to truly climb with your hands. There are 2 short 5-8 foot sections you must climb up immediately. They are not bad, just a little scary because you feel a little exposed (and wobbly after the drainage). Just be careful, the way up these two short sections is obvious. Once this is done. the rest is just grinding up boulders and shindagger infested grasslands. It's not even 1/4 mile to the summit, but it feels like it. I would recommend staying just a touch right as you go up. Straying too far left will put you at a several hundred foot vertical drop (it's called the Cleaver for a reason) and is a little too tough of boulder hopping. You can occasionally see the summit as you work your way up. And then you're there. From the top you just stare at Pusch Peak and Bighorn in amazement. The view up and down Pima Canyon is phenomenal. This peak sees very few visitors. Feel proud. You climbed the Cleaver.

Head back the way you came as best you can. As always on this trail, your route is really determined by which way hurts the least, because they all hurt. Wear pants, consider long sleeves and gloves. Hiking poles actually come in very handy to help ward off the horrendous catclaw. Map/GPS required too. Please be careful.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a more difficult hike. It would be unwise to attempt this without prior experience hiking.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2008-05-04 fricknaley
  • Pusch Ridge WA Restrictions
    guide related
    Pusch Ridge WA Restrictions
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent Triplog Reviews
Peak 4910 - The Cleaver
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I've thought about doing this hike for the last 5 years and finally did it today! From the description, the words "extreme bushwhack" and "blood-letting catclaw" extended my procrastination. Actually, the bushwhack wasn't bad at all. The canyon had a lot of brush at the very end, close to the Pima canyon trail, which we had to find ways around and it wasn't too bad. It is best to stay North of the canyon for the first 1/10 mile or so, then drop into the canyon when it's not so full of bushes. When the canyon starts angling upward, there's more rock and less brush. Near the saddle, my friend Brian and I found some well beaten trails, probably animal trails which made navigating a bit easier. From the saddle to the peak took us about 20-25 minutes. The first part of the climb from the saddle is steep and there are some areas where you'll need to take your time and get good hard grips. After the initial 10 minutes of climbing, the rest is pretty straight-forward. From the peak it was possible to see some people standing on top of Pusch Peak, which is the highest peak to the Southwest. We didn't see any deer or sheep and we're starting to wonder if these sheep even exist in the Catalinas! ;-). Views were great all around and it's possible to see most of Oro Valley down below. According to the log, we only saw 10-12 entries over the last 5 years. Amy, my new friend, I found your name from Dec 2015, almost 1 year to the date... Anyway, I only lost a few drops of blood when my hand got caught in a cat's claw. Luckily, I had no damage today from those damn shindaggers, which probably should just be called daggers (without the "shin") because they can stab you in the foot, angle, hand, face, etc. How do the animals avoid these things, or don't they?? This hike was definitely well worthwhile and I enjoyed it!!
Peak 4910 - The Cleaver
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Been wanting to do this one for a while, got it in before the year-end off-trail shutdown in Pusch Ridge. Did this a couple of guys and a great lady from the Saddlebrooke Hiking Club. They were tough!

They had already done this once before and we followed their old track, as a clockwise loop from the Linda Vista TH. We took the northern route of the Linda Vista Loop for just under a mile before starting the bushwhack. Then we went up the canyon between Pusch Peak and Bighorn Mountain toward the Cleaver to the saddle just west of the peak. It was amazing how much buffelgrass has blown up Pima Canyon onto the ice of the Cleaver...everywhere! From there it was a fairly easy scramble to the top. The register was a baby food jar, and due to the infrequency of people visiting the Cleaver, signatures in the register jar went back to 1985.

We then scrambled down the Cleaver and started heading toward Pusch Peak. This was the hardest part of the trip. Once we past the saddle it was shindagger city, but that was the easy part. Also lots of catsclaw and having to do some boulder climbing that was pretty dicey in spots. One cool part of this most difficult par at if scramble was when we ran right up on one of the collared bighorns. Once we made it through the first half mile away from the saddle, we were able to do a gradual climb along the NE face from 5000' and around the NE side to the NW face, where we picked up the trail.

Once we intersected the trail, my 3 hiking partners started heading down the Pusch Peak trail while I headed up. Hey, at 1/8 mile and less than 200' from the top, why not?!

On my way down, I found out that an hour later, the rest of the fam were going to see The Hobbit, so I booked it down Pusch, jumped in the car, took a quick shower and was in the theater by the time it started. Made it off the peak in less than an hour. Apparently on my jog down to the car, I passed Jim_H.

Great hanging out with you guys today! Thanks for letting me enjoy this bushwhack with you.
Peak 4910 - The Cleaver
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I cannot emphasize enough, the pain one must endure to reach this evil beast. Now I like a challenge , but this little gem is off the hook. Brush on top of boulders with shin daggers in between. Trippy little vine things in waist high grass. This little 6 miles round trip is by far the most beastly that the Catalinas have to offer. I didn't see the ground once I left the trail. I didn't know if my foot was gonna hit the ground or fall 3 feet between some hidden boulder grouping. I used catclaw, hackberry, ocotillo, agave and anything else available for hand holds (would have used a rattle snake if the need arose). I'm glad this one is finally done. From this approach anyway.
Peak 4910 - The Cleaver
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This remains one of my favorite summits! Up/down from the Pima Canyon side: up west of the usual wash, crossed over and went up the boulder field and then along the base to the ramp to the top (skipped the saddle) - got down the steeper sections before dark but not all the way to the Pima Canyon trail (not as much fun in the dark - although it was a nice night!).

Over the past few years I have gone a few different ways up from the Pima Canyon Trail and not yet found a way that was genius, always some sections of easy walking and some sections that I would rather avoid - always seems to live up to the brushy reputation!

All the trip reports from the Linda Vista Trailhead make me want to try that side, maybe next year...

Peak 4910 - The Cleaver
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I headed up Pusch from the Linda Vista side today. I wanted to look into a supposed route between Pusch and The Cleaver. A friend of mine gave me a printed version of the route, which I did my best to replicate into a GPX. He is a climber and has used the route to get from Linda Vista to the Table, so I'm thinking 'Great'.

I left the TH at about 5:45. The temp was 68 and the humidity was high. I was feeling pretty good and was anxious to get to the peak and start my adventure. I passed 2 hikers on their way down, and chatted a bit with them. I got to the top at about 7:30 and took a little break, eyeing The Cleaver, a half mile to the east.

Pretty quick I headed south down the ridge about a tenth of a mile to a small, saddle like drop to the east. I soon saw signs of traffic through the area. The bits and pieces of trail through here seemed to have been forged by humans. The track I had appeared to be pretty consistent with the trails I was following. The brush was rough at times and the going was very slow. I had covered about a third of a mile when I came to a steep chute, dropping 80 to 100 feet :scared: . This was where I pulled the plug for this round. The route definitely looks doable, but in cooler weather and with a partner.

On the return trip, I somehow ended up on the north fork of the Linda Vista Loop. By the time I realized my mistake, I was 10 minutes past the junction, so I decided to finish out the loop. Not as exciting as one would hope, but it's off my list without every having been on the list.
Peak 4910 - The Cleaver
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My second trip to the top! Last year I came over from Pusch Peak - and earlier this season I had run out of time/light (late start...) at the base of the Cleaver after coming over from Bighorn - but today was 'straight' up from Pima Canyon. I started by taking note of Sirena's trip report and stayed on the hillside/ridge west of, and nicely above, the usual drainage up (having been in the lower part of that drainage several times I thought avoiding it sounded delightful... the west hillside/ridge turned out to be pretty easy walking!), past where the drainage comes in from Bighorn there is an obvious rocky spill/drop in the drainage - I crossed the drainage there and then worked up the ridges/hillsides between the two drainages (SE of the Cleaver) to the base of the cliffs (I had done this coming down before and knew it was reasonably easy walking - no real scrambling in the rocks/boulders, nice views from the ridges, but plenty of loose rock so I was pretty cautious), from there I contoured around and onto the ridge to the top! (I didn't bother going to the saddle, the rock field/cliff contour comes onto the main ramp about 1/3 of the way up). This is an amazing place and I loved it just as much as the first time. I was pretty happy with the route I picked - least brush/scrapes/thorns yet! Pictures:
Peak 4910 - The Cleaver
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A great day for a nice, short, strenuous hike. I only carried out a few foreign objects embedded in my skin.

I also carried out some trash. I found two large sticks tied together with a string and propped up in the shape of an X. I broke up the stick and carried out the string. I didn't want an animal to eat or get tangled up in it.
Peak 4910 - The Cleaver
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I love being poked by shindaggers and having cholla and prickly pear spines jabbed into me! Awesome!

We choose not to follow the drainage, instead we followed a ridge - which was not very brushy. We did a bit extra mileage and elevation due to staying high when the ridge ends. We cliffed out and had to retreat below a section of nearly vertical slick rock.

The rock scramble to the peak is great fun! One section on the way down is a bit scary - but not too bad if you're used to rock scrambling.

Great views of Bighorn and Pusch Peaks from the top.

Definitely a peak to do again!
Peak 4910 - The Cleaver
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Wow, what a hike! I have been wanting to climb The Cleaver since I caught my first real glimpse doing the Finger Rock/Pima Canyon Traverse. With the weather finally nice and cool, and off trail hiking prohibited in January, I figured there was no better time to hit the trail!

The hike description is spot on: this hike is a brutal trek through some of the worst brush & cacti that I have ever encountered. I think the plants actively tried to prevent me from summiting The Cleaver! I am not a big fan of heights and was a little freaked out by the short climb after the saddle, but there was no way I was going to turn around. The views from the top are fantastic and the hike itself unforgettable (I have the scars to prove it).

After getting back to Pima Canyon I decided I still had some energy (and blood) to spare and that I might as well hike to Rosewood Saddle. The hike to the saddle was much easier than the cleaver, but the view was not quite the same...
Peak 4910 - The Cleaver
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There's a certain feeling of relief, giddiness and awe that comes with finally having hiked to the Cleaver. I've been looking at it and thinking about it for years. Putting it off, getting sick at the last minute, this & that...

I finally decided there was no more time to waste. Soon it'll be too hot and another year goes by without the Cleaver. Please remember off trail hiking in Pusch Ridge is banned from around Jan 1- April 30 for Bighorn mating season. This limits your window of opportunity too.

The combination of factors involved here make this as hard as possible. My arms are just destroyed, my hands a mess, my legs aching, my soul...elated.

Permit $$

Coronado Forest
MVUMs are rarely necessary to review unless mentioned in the description or directions
Coronado Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs)

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To Iris O. Dewhirst Trailhead
Drive north from Tucson on the Oracle Road (US 89). Turn east on Magee Road and drive to the parking area and trailhead at road's end.


From Tucson, drive north on Campbell Avenue until you reach Skyline Drive. Turn left on Skyline, which will eventually become Ina Road. Continue on Ina Road until you reach Christie Drive. Follow Christie Drive north until it dead-ends at Magee Road. Turn right on Magee and follow it until you arrive at the Iris O. Dewhirst Trailhead on your right.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 110 mi - about 1 hour 44 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 9.6 mi - about 19 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 253 mi - about 3 hours 50 mins
page created by fricknaley on May 04 2008 8:33 pm
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