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Battle Axe Butte 3,531 - Teapot Mtn Quad, AZ

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134 9 1
Guide 9 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Globe > Superior S
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 1.66 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,043 feet
Elevation Gain 1,462 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,520 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 9.26
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Creek & Peak
Backpack No
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11  2019-02-02 chumley
12  2016-01-23 juliachaos
21  2014-03-05 dwightnancy
7  2013-03-07 JuanJaimeiii
10  2013-02-13 JuanJaimeiii
13  2013-02-13 sirena
10  2013-01-20 SonoranBorn
50  2012-12-22 CannondaleKid
Author CannondaleKid
author avatar Guides 43
Routes 137
Photos 20,503
Trips 1,903 map ( 15,629 miles )
Age 69 Male Gender
Location Mesa, AZ
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Gila - Safford BLM
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Preferred   Nov, Mar, Apr, Feb → 8 AM
Seasons   Winter to Spring
Sun  6:13am - 6:20pm
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Terrible Beauty or Awesome Beast?
by CannondaleKid

Battle Axe Butte is located in the Teapot Mountain Quadrangle in Pinal County. Along with a rise of 951' from the surrounding terrain, it's official elevation is 3,531' which ranks it at #4592 for the state of Arizona. The summit coords are: 33.1530?N, 111.0876?W

Terrible Beauty, or Awesome Beast? Which is it?

Terrible Beauty: Well, for anyone who has gazed upon this massive rock as many times and from as many viewpoints as I have I would have to believe they would agree Battle Axe is definitely a beauty. Yet at the same time it is such a rugged, coarse, irregular, jagged, sharp, severe and aggressive beauty that one could easily term it TERRIBLE.

Awesome Beast: Along with that 'terrible' beauty comes the absolutely breathtaking, formidable, impressive, stunning, mesmerizing and magnificent rock that is truly AWESOME in its 'beast' ly-ness.

Hmmm? Did I use enough adjectives to describe this Beauty-and-Beast? After spending a very intimate morning scaling Battle Axe I don't doubt you'd come up with even more descriptive words for this aptly-named butte.

Ok, so what's it really like? The round-trip is only 1.66 miles but it comes over 1,500 of accumulated elevation gain so it definitely gets the juices flowing. The trailhead is a small pullout barely feet off of Battle Axe Road at the base of Battle Axe. To begin with just pick a cow-path heading up and follow it until you lose track of it, by which time you'll probably be able discern your route of choice. I found the easiest thing to do was to stick along the ridge as it winds its way up to the real meat (rocky section) of the climb. I was lucky enough to scare up a deer which bounded up the slope, leaving hoof-prints to guide me along a nice game trail for a short distance.

The first part of the climb is easy enough with the help of enough ground vegetation for reasonably stable footing. As you hit the beginning of the rocky area at the half-mile point there will be a transition from hiking into more of a climbing mode. A few zig-zags will bring you up to the next section which although steeper than the first half-mile still has reasonably stable footing. The next .2 mile you will to traverse to the left while climbing until you reach the saddle (albeit a very small one) where you have a beautiful view south over the Gila River valley. But wait, you're not done yet, the true climb is just about to begin.

The last 400' to the southeast comes along with 120' AEG so this is where you are truly in 'climb' mode, which for for me was death-defyingly, WAY out of my comfort-zone scary climb mode. And as usual, I took little comfort in wondering 'how am I going to get back down?' even as I continued up. Here is where you seek out every little nook-and-cranny that will provide purchase for the next step, even if it only provides 6" of movement. Sometimes this is wedging your boot into a crevice, sometimes it's a solid rock, other times the rock breaks loose (usually after it was stable for your hand, but not when you put your foot on it) and you have a singular heart-in-throat moment, and finally at times you're desperate enough to grab onto the smallest (and sometimes dead) piece of vegetation that provides just enough grip (confidence?) to climb another foot.

Finally, when you pop up and find you have reached the summit... whoa! Wait a minute! Hold your horses! It's just the a false-summit and you STILL have 160 feet still to go. At least it's horizontal instead of vertical, so what's so bad about that? Well, at one point along that 160 feet you have a 200' drop on one side possibly even more on the other and you only have a pointed rock to climb over, well let me tell you, that was too much for this old geezer with a healthy (un-healthy?) fear of falling. But for the adrenaline junkies in the bunch, I say go for it, you definitely feel the rush as you bathe in the beauty of this scary beast.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Note
This is a moderately difficult hike.

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

2012-12-23 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
    Battle Axe Butte 3,531 - Teapot Mtn Quad
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Pretty cool little area. Went up the obvious ridge, then bushwhacked to the saddle. Found a nice easy fourth class ascent on the other side of the saddle (just on the other side of the chimney everyone else has been using). That ridge on the other side of the false summit is pretty crazy. No thanks! My beta: bring a tall person to downclimb to the right, ahead of you. So much easier this way! The true summit at this point is a cake walk. Signed the register and sat up top with a couple summit beers, enjoying the views. Saw both Picacho and Four Peaks from up there, and beyond. On the way back down, a huge boulder dislodged, but no one was hurt. Laughed off the nerves and then bushwhacked back to the ridge and the car. Went to AZW after.
    Battle Axe Butte 3,531 - Teapot Mtn Quad
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Great little gem of a scramble. Adam and I parked at the turn-off from Battle Axe Road, thinking that whatever lay ahead would be over by CR-V's head. It wasn't, but I have a reputation about road hiking/walking to maintain. In all seriousness, I could have driven the CR-V to within .5 miles of the posted track's starting point, but we got some extra hiking mileage, so there was that. Enjoyed the trees, shade, and water at the creek crossing after ~2 miles of road hiking and then started looking for routes up the Axe.

    This is one rugged-looking mountain from afar, and it's not until you're close that you can see the way up. Followed Mark's suggested route for the most part. Steep hiking gets the heart rate up, and gains you elevation in a hurry too before the scramble/bushwhack. We found that staying near the cliff face to your right side keeps the brush at minimum when you're on the higher part of the mountain. The final ridge was as exposed as advertised, and it's always a little more fun downclimbing while staring at said exposure. Good times. Not a whole lot of activity in the summit log, and a great view from the top. Only bad part about today was leaving my camera on the kitchen table and realizing it when we started hiking. Great weather and fun to finally explore this corner of the state. Very scenic spot.
    Battle Axe Butte 3,531 - Teapot Mtn Quad
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Really fun hike up interesting terrain, leading to beautiful views. I parked at the barbed wire fence, just a little ways past the "artesian well". Hiked along the fence line for ~100 yards, then followed a ridge up towards the butte. I kept left once I was up against the crags, and the photos from Cannondalekid's route description were instrumental for picking my route from here. Very precarious towards the top. Use caution and boots with good tread. Pants and long sleeves are a good idea as always, but you could get away with shorts and a t-shirt if you don't mind a bit of re-routing to avoid the flora.
    Battle Axe Butte 3,531 - Teapot Mtn Quad
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    My original plan for today was to climb Granite Mountain and Peak 3870 in the Teapot Mountain Quad, but when I got to the spot where I was going to drive to my chosen trailhead I found the old track had been closed off. So now my modestly aggressive plan of a climbing 1800' in less than a mile followed by 6 miles of off-trail up & down would add on another took on another few miles to it. Since I had also planned to tack on a quick climb of Copper Butte nearby I decided I wasn't ready for that big a day.

    So, as I drove on toward Copper Butte, again I was mesmerized with Battle Axe, and since I had a tentative route for it on my GPS, I figured I'd start with just a preliminary recon hike (yeah, right!) on the lower slopes of Battle Axe, then get back to copper Butte and knock it out.

    As usual I had a change of heart and change of plan... the farther I climbed up Battle Axe the more intrigued I was with this terrible beauty of an awesome beast and I simply couldn't stop to save the full climb for another day. Today was to be the day! :y:

    Parking at a small pullout just off Battle Axe/Rincon Road in full view of Battle Axe, I started off following a cow-path as it wound up from the road until it either faded or gave way to an endless number of cow paths. By then I already figured the best way up was simply to follow a number of interconnected ridges up the lower slope. Very early on I scared up a deer which bounded up the slope, giving me the bright idea that it may be using a game trail. By following in its tracks, for a short distance I had some easy going along the game trail.

    Although the first half-mile was reasonably steep the footing was quite solid due to enough low vegetation to hold everything in place. As I closed in on the upcoming rocky section I scanned left-to-right in hopes of finding the best route, not only to get the next 100' up vertically, but hopefully would lead to the best route farther up as well. Quite surprisingly, my tentative GPS track was within 25' of what I found to be the best spot, which was where I set the waypoint I named 'Gap' on the soon-to-be-offical GPS route at: N33.15523 W111.08835

    Once above the first rocky wall area, again there was enough vegetation but also some smooth rock areas which at first glance seemed to be steeper than I later determined so I stayed toward the right (west) and went in between a tall spire on my left and the main western peak on my right. But once through the choke-point I still had to traverse through some smooth rock as I continued climbing. Eventually I became comfortable enough with the smooth rock that I alternated between it and areas where there was enough brush to provide some good handholds.

    After enough time spent scanning just far enough ahead for the next few steps I find myself at the very small saddle more-or-less centered east-to-west, which provided some great views southward... but still just teasers of what was to come at the top.

    And now comes the real test... is there a path to the top that I (with an advanced fear of high places) can reasonably follow? There seemed but few options, so again I stuck to my tentative GPS track and went for it.

    By now I'm truly in death-defyingly out of my comfort-zone-scary climb mode. :scared: Not only was I concerned about climbing up, but even more concerned about the return descent. It's one thing to see just a few feet ahead when climbing, but looking down while descending... well I don't like it one bit! But still I continued, wedging my boot into a crevice here, stepping on 1/2" nubs of rock there, as well as grabbing onto the smallest piece of vegetation to climb another foot.

    All of a sudden I'm up top! But wait, awwww :pk: ... It's just the false-summit! Yes, it's within 10' vertically of the true summit, there's still 160' of horizontal travel across what for me is truly no-man's-land... at least not for this man! Even thinking about crossing the sometimes one-pointy-boulder-wide traverse all that came to mind was a 'swinging-bridge' over a 1000' chasm like in an Indiana Jones flick... :scared: :pk: :scared:

    Already with a slightly compromised equilibrium due to a blocked left ear I've been dealing with the last few days, this is here I had to draw the line. Even if JJ happened to be there to show-me-the-way as he did on Ajax and Peak 4202 ten days ago, I still would not have attempted it. And today being solo, well, I felt discretion was the better part of valor. Better safe than :stretch:

    I still had to descend through where I had a number of heart-in-throat moments on the climb. But since I made it up safely, all it took was a moment to reflect on that positive and I was on my way back down. Once past the real vertical rock-wall section, I was on a roll, seeking out a more direct route to the Gap I passed through on the climb. From here on it was a piece-of-cake, well at least it was mentally, but the knees definitely were not in agreement.

    But who cares how much the body complains when one has such an emotional high from finally climbing a peak I've thought about for years, never once thinking I'd ever actually do it. :y:

    And now that I've at least made it this far, hmmm, what chance do I have of dragging Tracey up here?? Slim-to-none? Less than that? WAY less? I daresay it's more like I'll win the lottery before that'll happen. [-(

    Wow, full 10 dozen photos so I'm going to take some time to winnow it down to something manageable. As large a photoset as I ever want to pore through isn't even 50 photos, so I'll try to limit it to that. As usual, I'll have the full set on my web-site along with the 360-degree pan video soon.

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    Directions
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    To hike
    From Phoenix follow the US-60 East to Superior, exit onto AZ-177 and turn right to head south. Follow AZ-177 South for just over 9-1/2 miles and turn right onto North Battle Axe Rd. (Note: The exit to the right comes up fast as you're climbing a hill and rounding a bend to the left) Follow North Battle Axe Road 1.9 miles where you will turn right into a wash. Follow the wash 2.0 miles to the small turnout on the right.
    page created by CannondaleKid on Dec 23 2012 6:50 am
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