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Ajax Peak 4356 - Mineral Mountains, AZ

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Guide 3 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Globe > Superior SW
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 1.67 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,696 feet
Elevation Gain 679 feet
Accumulated Gain 922 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 6.28
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Peak
Backpack Possible & Connecting
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20  2012-12-12 CannondaleKid
50  2012-07-09 CannondaleKid
Author CannondaleKid
author avatar Guides 43
Routes 137
Photos 20,492
Trips 1,900 map ( 15,617 miles )
Age 69 Male Gender
Location Mesa, AZ
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Preferred   Nov, Mar, Apr, Feb → 8 AM
Seasons   Winter to Spring
Sun  6:10am - 6:27pm
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Not for the exposure challenged!
by CannondaleKid

Overview: Ajax Benchmark is located in the Mineral Mountain Quadrangle, which is just south of the US 60 between Florence Junction and Superior. Typical of peaks in the Mineral Mountain Quad, the drive to the trailhead is every bit as much of a challenge as the actual climb, and Ajax Benchmark is no different. Depending on the capability of your vehicle and how far you are willing to drive it, this hike can be as short as 1.5 miles to more than 8 miles round-trip. Elevation gain and time will be as much or as little as you feel comfortable with.


Hike: From the trail head probably the simplest route is to head straight east directly toward the mountain, dropping down to the saddle just below the TH then following the slope up and just to the north (left) of Ajax Benchmark. Although the summit approach itself is on the SSW face, I was not aware of it so I continued clock-wise around the peak until locating it, about 3/4 the way around. Although I did not attempt it on the return, I'm not so sure circling 1/4 the way counter-clockwise would be any easier as there appears to be much more exposure in that direction. I ultimately followed the ridge straight south until connecting with the old no-longer-in-use section of the Great Enchantment Trail which I followed all the way back to the saddle below the trail head than back up to the trail head. So you can either do this as an out-and-back or make a loop, wandering where ever your curiosity takes you.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2012-07-10 CannondaleKid
    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
    Ajax Peak 4356 - Mineral Mountains
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Today I had five items on my to-do list:
    1. Drop off a 12 gallon public-use water cache near the start of AZT Passage #17
    2. Reach the summit of Ajax Benchmark (I failed the previous attempt in July)
    3. Reach the summit of Peak 4202 (I failed the previous attempt in July)
    4. Follow the ridge along Peak 3937 (This as a great viewpoint to shoot photos and a video of Nick as he completes his last leg of the Arizona Trail from aross the canyon)
    5. Provide Nick with a ride back to his vehicle in Kelvin.

    #1 was easy, well it was after the rough drive to get that far.

    #2 & #3 may both have been failed attempts again if it weren't for fearless JJ. Although I did not follow his first route up either peak, thanks to his recons I managed to bag both. Ajax was definitely a scary one, even following my 'easier' route.
    After finding the worst way up the western approach of Peak 4202, JJ sought a better route because he did NOT want to descend the same way. Meanwhile I'm working on my PB&J lunch down below. Just when I was beginning to wonder if he fell off the other side he pops up right beside me, having descended by a route that was almost a walk-in-the-park from the east. Great work JJ! And now I benefited from his due diligence.

    #4 was pretty easy although nothing near as easy as it was for JJ. By now this 62 year-old body ached from head to toe trying to keep up with the 45 year-old hiking machine so I dragged up the rear. But once on the ridge the view across to the AZT was awesome. And wait... what do you see? Why, it's Nick cruising along the slope across the canyon. So I zoomed in 50x for a few photos and video as he met up with a mountain biker heading in the opposite direction.
    Nick said later the biker told Nick he had stared the pumpkin out of him. And these even after JJ yelled across the canyon telling Nick to watch out for the biker.

    #5 was easy enough for me and JJ but I'm not sure Nick felt that way... in fact he felt, well, like :sk: So JJ dug under the front seat, found the roll of TP inside a large ziploc bag that I always have along for emergencies like this and passed it forward to Nick. As much as I tried to make the ride a bit more palatable, it just wasn't happening. So I began to think...
    Would it be better if I drove slower to lessen the agony?
    Would it be better to go faster and shorten the duration of the agony?
    But I never figured out which was better and just took it as it came.
    In the end, I hear you Nick... having had terrible bouts of car-sickness when I was young I would never trivialize the effects it can have.

    So overall I had a very satisfying day and what makes it even better a day later... I have not one ache or pain at all! I guess that means I've got to keep working my pumpkin off to fend off old-age. Yeah, RIGHT!!! Don't I wish!

    Oh yeah... last thing... this hike of Ajax, Peak 4202 and Peak 3937 could very aptly be named the Awesome Ajax Trifecta Loop due to the three peaks as well as the awesome scenery that is not to be missed.

    I'll post the Peak 4202 and Peak 3937 photos separately but be sure to check out the 3937 photos to see Nick as he nears the end of the passage.
    Ajax Peak 4356 - Mineral Mountains
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Being another high humidity morning I took my time so it was almost 9 am before I began the hike. It was nice my initial goal was only 1/2 mile from the trail head, but that's being a bit too simplistic and it was not going to just be a walk-in-the-park.

    From the trail head I headed straight for Ajax Benchmark (the highest peak in the Mineral Mountain Quadrangle), dropping down to the saddle where the old Great Enchantment Trail used to cross, then a reasonably steep climb directly toward the summit.

    Not having any idea what route to take to reach the summit, yet obvious it wouldn't be on this side, I headed slightly to the left with the plan of circling around until I found a safe route up. Almost half way around I saw a promising opening, but within 5 minutes of climbing it was obvious this was not going to work and I dropped back down. Not sure just how far I'd have to go around as well as not knowing if I would return this direction or not, I headed north along the ridge to take some photos from a high point across the ridge from Ajax.

    While taking photos from that vantage point I scanned the upper portion of Ajax hoping for clues for my next attempt. None were forthcoming from this side, so I headed back south around the east side of Ajax. As I continued circling clock-wise there were a couple more teasers, but nothing very inviting so I kept going.

    Almost three-fourths the way around it opened up to a wide area of large bare boulders but still saw no obvious route. After taking some time to scan it was time to just begin somewhere and so how it went. Climbing carefully I reached a point within 80' vertical and about 100' across to the summit where I had no more confidence to continue. Although the boulders were bare yet coarse enough for reasonable grip, for every 10 great handholds there would be one that broke away with very little pressure. :scared:

    So with that, the exposure factor, nursing a sore left ankle as well as being totally alone, I was ok with leaving it for another day. Besides, I had another couple peaks on my plate for the day.

    With full knowledge that at least three people have in fact reached the summit, I know it can be done, I'm just not sure if it will require any climbing gear. But I have a feeling if I had someone very experienced leading the way, I would have been fine following in their footsteps.

    Now 270 degrees around Ajax, I saw no point in retracing my route so I set off to the south toward Peak 4202, maybe bagging that on the return trip instead returning to the TH before heading out again. As it turned out, the last 90 degrees around Ajax looked to provide every bit the challenge of trying for the summit.

    After climbing the first part of Peak 4202 I could see the summit outcrop of 4202 and it looked to be every bit as daunting as Ajax so just took some photos for further examination before returning with more determination to reach the summit.

    Time to head back to the trail head for lunch before heading out to my last peak for the day. On the way down from the saddle I followed a very old and almost invisible section of what used to be the Great Enchantment Trail down to the bottom and back up to the saddle below the trail head. From there it was a short jaunt back up to the car.

    I posted a 70-second 360-degree panorama video from a high point on the ridge north of Ajax here:
    http://changephoenix.com/jpserver/web/public/file.php?id=171

    I posted 50 photos on HAZ, the full set of 62 is here:
    http://changephoenix.com/jpserver/web/public/album.php?id=168

    Permit $$
    AZ State Land Recreational Permits are available for an individual ($15.00), or a family limited to two adults and children under the age of 18 ($20.00).




    Land Parcel Map


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    Strictly 4x4

    To hike
    Take the US 60 east toward Globe, continuing about 3.5 miles east of Florence Junction to the turn-off onto the dirt North Mineral Mountain Road. You will be crossing Arizona Trust Land so be sure to have secured your annual permit. Heading south from the US 60 you will continue on N Mineral Mtn Rd to the junction with Ajax Mine Trail (road) at about 7 miles. (Note, there will be other junctions prior to this point so I'd recommend you download the GPS route for the drive.) Continue east on Ajax Mine Trail for about 5.2 miles to N33.20716 W111.15008. This is the junction where Ajax Mine Trail, Telegraph Canyon Road (SW from Superior) and Forest Road 976 meet at N33.20699 W111.15022. Follow FR 976 3.2 miles to the trailhead, which is within .1 mile of the AZT #17 TH (The end of #16 and start of #17). I'd suggest following the GPS route I posted of the drive from the US60 to the TH. [ALTERNATE Eastern Approach] NOTE: I recommend this approach ONLY if you are coming from Superior or points east because although you will save 5.5 miles off-road. However, from the west you'll add 11 miles on the US60 and thus add 5+ miles to the total drive, plus the last 4 miles to FR 976 on Telegraph Canyon Road is MUCH rougher! To follow this approach, turn south on Mary Street from the US60 (west end of Superior) at N33.28540 W111.11757. Follow Mary St to Golf Course Rd, turning right immediately after the Fire Station. About two miles out (shortly after it becomes a dirt road) turn right onto Forest Road 4, which is Telegraph Canyon road. Follow FR4 to FR976 at N33.20699 W111.15022. Follow FR 976 3.2 miles to the trailhead.
    page created by CannondaleKid on Jul 10 2012 8:42 am
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