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Humphreys Summit via Dutchman Glade, AZ

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Guide 79 Triplogs  9 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Flagstaff > Flagstaff NW
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Difficulty 5 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance Round Trip 5.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 9,320 feet
Elevation Gain 3,345 feet
Accumulated Gain 3,380 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 6 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 22.4
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Peak
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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15  2019-02-27 Jim_H
11  2018-09-22
9  2017-03-25 arizona_water
14  2017-01-28 Jim_H
6  2017-01-16 arizona_water
5  2016-03-05 traildirt
15  2016-02-03 Jim_H
8  2016-01-16
Humphreys peak via Dutchman glade
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Author Jim_H
author avatar Guides 55
Routes 44
Photos 7,651
Trips 1,615 map ( 9,681 miles )
Age 40 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar → Early
Seasons   Winter to Early Spring
Sun  6:15am - 6:24pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Snow Bowlin' for Angels
by Jim_H

Humphrey is traditionally done in the summer months as a high elevation hike that offers some relief from the heat and humidity of the much lower elevations (anything under 6000' in my mind). However, I think that is the least attractive time of year to climb the peak. Southerly winds, humidity, pollution and atmospheric dust combine to make the period from April to September the time of year with the lowest visibility: often under 50 miles. Monsoon storms running from late June to mid September raise the threat of injury from lightning, and there is not much worse than being above tree line and getting pelted by hail or a cold rain. Finally, if you take the main trail you should expect to find almost as much traffic as you might have on Phoenix's Squaw or Piestewa Peak Trail. No, in my mind summer is not the best time of year to summit Humphrey. I feel that honor goes to the winter climbing season.

In winter there is an entirely new set of challenges that faces the climber. Gone is the need to start early (if you have the ambition to rise before 8am to climb) to avoid monsoon threats. You won't encounter crowds on the peak, and visibility is so good you can see well over 150 miles. Instead, you may encounter snow up to 10 feet deep, winds may gust to hurricane force, and it is important to choose your route to avoid risking a fall or the potential for avalanche. Avalanche potential is very low if you stick to "known routes". Also, while I feel it is nearly impossible to become lost on the San Francisco Peaks, it is helpful to feel comfortable being completely off trail and potentially alone.

Before you get started it is important to note that the route which I describe and the purpose of this description is to illustrate a climbing route for when the Peaks have a snow pack and Snowbowl is open for winter skiing. If the ski area isn't open you will either be able to use the main trail instead of this route, or you may not be able to access the trailhead if the road and ski area are closed-typical in the period after the first snows but before the ski season starts. Lastly, in some drier winters this route may be completely unnecessary or impossibly to do. Typically, if Snowbowl has the 3 foot base to open the lower runs, then the route has enough snow on it to be usable. I have done this route with the bare minimum snow pack required to open Snowbowl and even though rocks were sticking out above the snow in the Dutchman the route was still able to be done with snowshoes.

Winter climbing from the Snowbowl area requires a Kachina Peaks Backcountry Permit. You can get one (one is required per person) at the Agassiz Lodge on weekends, or from either of the two Forest Service offices in Flagstaff. They are free, and can save you a good deal of money if something happens that requires rescue. The permit is good for an entire season, so get it early and use it often.

The first thing to think about for a winter climb is the gear. In summer all you need is a poncho and what ever clothing you bring on a normal day hike. In winter you will need snow shoes, lots of warm clothing (preferably in layers as you will get hot when going up) and snow boots. It is also recommendable to have an ice axe for steep terrain and a separate crampon for use on the areas where scour has exposed rock. Gators, goggles and a baklava face cover-hat combination are also really good to have. A headlamp or flashlight may be useful if you decide to spend extra time out exploring after the sun set.

There are numerous places in Flagstaff that rent snow shoes. I recommend a snowshoe with a hard and sharp outer edge to cut into the snow crust on some of the steeper cornices you might have to climb. Some shoes have rounded edge from their tube construction. I have found these to be unsuitable when trying to climb on steeper slopes. I have never seen any stores in Flagstaff that rent or even carry ice axes or crampons. Ironically, the REI in Tempe does carry them. It may not be worth purchasing these extras if you only plan to climb once, but if you think you'll make a yearly ritual out of it then you might want to spend the money for these pieces of safety equipment. Don't bother with aluminum crampons as you'll want the crampon for the rock/ice/snow combination and you'll need steel for that.

The route to Humphrey is substantially longer than that to Agassiz Peak if you come up from Snowbowl and only do one Peak. Agassiz has about 800 to 900 vertical feet and around 2000 feet of climb above treeline, and you are never very far from safety and the Ski Hut at the top of chair 1 (Agassiz Lift). Climbing Humphrey is not like Mount Rainier or Mount Hood, but you will spend nearly half the climb above the safety of the trees and need to think about conditions up there.

The biggest thing is the wind. It can be as calm as zero wind that allows you to hear vehicles on the road, or so windy that you can get blown over, and the ice crystals that are picked up by the wind feel like little razor blades when they impact any exposed skin. The key is picking the right conditions so as to minimize the risk of having high winds. I found that the period after a cold front has passed and a high has settled in is best. You want to allow a couple of days to pass after a front moves through to allow for things to settle down. Even still, it can be calm at one point and pretty windy at another. It's mostly just trying to avoid times when the wind is guaranteed to be fierce and hope for the best. You can also dress for the wind by having face protection, since that is probably the only area that you will have as exposed skin in winter.

The second item to think about is the base layer of clothing. You'll work up quite a sweat climbing the route. I can't recommend against cotton enough in winter. I used cotton for the last time in 2006 when climbing Fremont Peak in November. It would get soaked and I would have to change my shirt or risk being cold. I recommend some sort of synthetic or wool that won't hold the moisture and can still keep you warm when it gets wet. I use Smart Wool and have found it to be really good for winter. It typically dries pretty quickly, too.

Other items to think about are boots, gloves, pants, hats and the outer layer or coat. It is mostly preference for these items. There is no need to spend $300 on a serious mountaineering boot for this peak. Anything warm, water proof, and with a high upper will be fine. I the past I used my $100 Sorels and had no troubles at all. Avoid leather gloves. Pants are almost wide open (with respect to choice of type)! However, don't wear cotton pants including jeans. If you have warm long underwear on you don't need heavy or expensive ski pants. Heavy pants may actually be too hot and uncomfortable to climb in. Some recommend large over sized wool pants that you can get from Army surplus stores. I use my Nomex fire pants that I got from my days burning forests for the Army. They are fire resistant, so I needn't worry about them burning me if the snow should become engulfed in flames. More importantly they are large and flowing, they don't hold moisture, and they act as a gator over my boots. The last thing to think about is your hat and coat. I like any hat with cheek covers, and I have a heavy down coat that I like to use. What ever you wear you will want to be comfortable climbing in what could be below zero temps.

The Route There are many different routes which one could take to summit Humphrey. The one I describe is heavily used and takes you through the old bomber wreck. This route is likley to have a packed snow trail if a weekend has past since the last storm, and you might find another climbing party out there.

I like to start at the summer trailhead because it allows for the most elevation gain from the trailhead to the peak, but you can also start from the Agassiz Lodge. If you start from the lower lot, don't try to use the main trail at first. Instead walk up the ski slope and find the point where the trail from the Agassiz Lodge crosses the ski run and joins the main trail at the sign-in box. If coming from Agassiz Lodge, simply follow the spur trail to the sign-in box. Look for the small brown sign to enter the forest. This next section is the only part that uses the Humphrey's Summit Trail, and it is only this one switchback that is used.

Proceed on trail past the Kachina Peaks Wilderness sign and the hiker's sign-in box. If early in the season the sign and box may be exposed, but in a wet winter they may not be. In late February of 2008 I dug the box out from 2 feet of snow. If snow had continued that year it would have gotten buried further. This is probably rare except in very wet winters.

Continue on the trail for 3/4 of a mile. You'll follow the grade and will have a fairly open path. At the end of the first switchback you will encounter an area with a good deal of downed trees. This is where you want to head upslope and off trail. What you want to do here is climb up and to the north to the Dutchman Glade, which is the large rock slide area you spot about half way along the summit trail in summer. Once you reach the bottom of the Dutchman Glade it is a straight shot uphill for about 800 feet. At the top of the glade you want to turn into the woods and head upslope and north. It isn't really very straight forward, but if the goal is to find the bomber wreck you want to go north about 200 to 300 feet and upslope. Unfortunately, you won't see scattered plane parts like you normally do in summer that tell you to go directly upslope. If you miss the bomber wreck or don't care just head for treeline. If you have found the bottom of the wreck it will look something like this. Proceed through it and continue on the treeline. I like to follow the cornice that forms on the north side of the ridge, though you can go any way you like. Eventually, you will reach the top of the ridge and be able to continue on to the summit. Unless going over to Agassiz it is best to descend the way you came.

From treeline to the ridge it's an easy climb up to the main trail and on to the summit. Well, easy is relative. Above treeline is also the area that is the most difficult and dangerous to travel through in bad conditions. It isn't more than 1000 vertical feet from treeline to the summit ridge. Once on the summit ridge it is a very easy hike to the summit. The only way it won't be "easy" is if it is windy. I've had odd conditions up there where it wasn't windy for almost the entire way up, then as I approached the summit it became extremely windy. I don't understand how that happens.

If you do go, leave plenty of time, pack lots of food and water and enjoy the day.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a difficult hike. Arrive fit and prepared or this could get ugly.

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

2008-12-22 Jim_H
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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 of 55 deeper Triplog Reviews
Humphreys Summit via Dutchman Glade
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Great time on the mountain, snowshoeing with a friend from flagstaff. Our goal was the Humphrey's Ridgeline. My friend was feeling some elevation effects and the weather was getting bad, so we turned back around 12,000ft. Still an awesome hike with the recent snow storm that provided 8" of fresh powder two days ago. It was wind-packed and in excellent condition by Saturday morning.

I left Phoenix at 2:30a.m. and got to Snowbowl in record time. We left the parking area at 5:35a.m., just in time to catch an amazing sunrise. We were back at the lodge for an après–ski by 11:30
I'm looking forward to my next time on the Peaks in snow.
Humphreys Summit via Dutchman Glade
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It couldn't have been better! Despite the parking issues and Snowbowl basically overflowing, and having to delay by a day due to what I consider to be extreme winds, the snow is the best it has been in years. Probably, the best snow since 2010! Deep, and in very good shape, right now. It was still windy, but I planned for that. Long distance views were also up there, but clouds in Utah kept clarity on the Henry's, Pine Valleys, and Navajo Mountain a little low. The Mazatzals, Whites, Hualapais, and on, were all very good.

It was still rather windy, and the strong NE wind forced me towards the south side of the ridge, but coming down it was mostly at my back, so I took the cornice, which is harder to use to descend than I remember. At least with my snowshoes, as I didn't carry my crampons which might have been useful. I found it pretty windy on the ridge, and very much so on the summit, but there were nice protected areas where I found calm conditions.

I was also pretty pleased that I found up hill travel easier than I thought it would be, even with the dry cold air. Including my 15 minutes or so for lunch, it was right on 4 hours from my car to the summit. 30 minutes on top, and 2 hours down, as well. Wind scour has kept the snow dense and hard in a lot of exposed areas, but in the trees it yielded and was pleasant to go down through. Still, no powder day, but the snow stopped 4 days ago. However, that density was why it was easier to go up.

All in all, a very good day out on the Peaks on this old favorite, and Humphrey.
Humphreys Summit via Dutchman Glade
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As a recent resident of Flag, I hiked the Humphries Summit trail in the spring, summer and autumn. I've been wanting to do the winter summit for some time now, and MLK day was projected to be excellent weather. My sister and I were on our way back from Utah and we were able to begin the snowshoe ascent around 9 a.m. The Agassiz and the ridge-line were clearly visible when we left the Snowbowl parking lot. After 2.5 miles, it became clear that the dense fog (cloud) that covered us above 10,800ft was here to stay. It began snowing at 10900ft. The fresh layer of snow that fell overnight began sliding out from underneath my feet at 11,400. We decided to turn around above 11,600ft. It was a tough call, but we knew would not be able to see a thing from the ridgeline, let alone the summit, if we continued. Plus the sliding surface snow was freaking me out a bit. Another time!

Thanks to Jim for the route for this one. :D
Humphreys Summit via Dutchman Glade
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Just like old times, but not quite. It has been nearly 5 years since I last did this route, and it has been 4 years since I last snowshoed in alpine conditions in the San Juan Mountains. I am no longer used to the cold. Heat is more fun, anyway. Cold was the hardest part, as it made my time above tree line something I have zero desire to repeat anytime soon. It really wasn't bad for wind, but this was not a mild winter day, either. I think it was in the single digits on the summit, perhaps so for my entire time above treeline. I conclude this based on how it felt breathing in and how my nose hair felt (from how it felt when the air was below 10 when I lived here) and how quickly my hands stopped working after going numb when I took my gloves off, in the relatively gentle wind.

My 95th summit was pretty good as the air was clean, dry, and long distance views were fantastic. The usual objects of my affection were observed, with the Pine Valley Mountains, Paria, Echo, and Vermilion Cliffs looking good. Navajo MT, Black Mesa, and the Henry Mountains rounded out the north views, with the Whites, Matazals, and Sedona monuments to the south. Once again, it was super cold, so I didn't stay long for me, just 20 minutes. Did I really do this often in these conditions? I might have liked to stay, to enjoy later day sun, and long shadows on the features to the north, but I was cold!

Down is always easier than up, and the 4 and 1/2 hours of total time up, including 15 minutes for lunch, was only 2 hours and 10 minutes or so down. The snow is not what I think it should be with Snowbowl reporting a 32 inch storm total. I was left asking, "where is it?". Above treeline, the winds have scoured most snow away in places, as is normal, but below it was pretty thin. Drifts left some areas in the mid-11,000' range with some depth, but so often there was nothing there. That can be normal. However, in the trees and Dutchman, a foot was often optimistic for the new depth. I found that more often than not, I was not plowing through deep powder, but breaking through a fairly modest depth and having the crampon on my snowshoe bite into the crusted layer underneath. Also, there are a decent number of rocks protruding in the Dutchman. Skiers have been out in droves, too, so a powder experience, this was not. This is not to say it was a bad day, I just had high hopes with the 32 inch report, and I felt my descent was more enjoyable back in November, of all times.

I did enjoy this, but with much of my gear worn out completely or wearing out, the distance to hike this, and the COLD involved yesterday, I prefer to hike it in summer conditions, except for the crowds and the distance views. I will definitely NOT being repeating things like my February 2011 Whitney hike, or my overnight at Black Bear Pass in January of 2012. Maybe a hike up Camelback when it is 114? Oh, I did that, and it was easier to handle (at times)!
Humphreys Summit via Dutchman Glade
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Here is a video of one of my partners :y: ... LPwc ...the other one was pretty cool also.

I met Vince and Wiski at lot 8 and the excuses started flying. We tried to one up our lack of sleep and who had more internal organs harvested and etc. It was a great day at a relaxed pace and the weather was (in my best Marlon Brandon voice) STELLA. The lack of snow would allow someone to boot up to the peak but I donned microspikes and Vince had crampons. We both carried snowshoes as extra training weight for our heavy packs. My trail runners with scuba sock and wool sock worked great as always. I just needed to change socks a few times for sweaty feet.

The summit was void of people and then a fun group of 5 came up and then another 2. We also saw a guy with a dog and the girl dogs got along pretty well. If there were a problem, I'd place all my money on Wiski. She'd put Bruno in his place, although so does Daisy :) .

Fun day...nice meeting Vince and Wiski. Look forward to more hikes with my new 101st HAZ partner. Kiltlifter was a good finish.

While waiting for Vince and Wiski, I was able to fix someone's car. She said her battery was dead. I had a battery booster with me but the problem was just a loose battery cable. The lady was very appreciative.
Humphreys Summit via Dutchman Glade
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Background....I carb loaded bigtime on Super Sunday.... I had an assortment of Marzen,Czech Style Pilsner,Maibock, and had red wine with a great dinner I cooked...steak...baked potatoes...made a caesar salad with extra bacon. Dessert pie from a box. Pre-dinner my wife made nachos and little hotdog things. She's a 49ers fan so she didn't want to cook.

Alarm went off at 330...out the door by 4 with very little sleep. I just threw everything together but didn't really organize. Killed a couple of pepsi's on the ride and drank a liter of water. I saw a huge Bull elk and shortly after that my tire met a bunny :( . There was a light dusting of snow on the road up. I reached the parking area and took about 40 minutes to get ready. In the meantime, a girl and her 2 dogs showed up. We talked for a few minutes and off she went skinning.

The snowshoe started off fine but then I got that feeling and headed back down. I ate some food and drank some water and decided to wait it out for 15 minutes. My pack was lighter but I'm still in training mode so I had about 35 pounds. I had gone up about a mile and gained close to 1,000-1,200ft before I turned back. Its wierd I've never had problems above 11k all the way to 14,400 in CO but sometimes I have issues between 8-10k. Two really bad times both hiking with the turtle. Anyways...I started to feel good again and had plenty of time so I opted to follow the Humphreys trail to the glade. The trail is packed down well and marked with ribbons to the glade. I didn't take it either earlier today or on Friday. When I saw my Friday tracks I bypassed them and broke trail. It was only sinky from between 11k to the bomber wreck(so only a couple hundred feet) and after that it was mostly hard packed. There was new snow since Friday (maybe 2-3 inches) in someones tracks. He stopped at the bomber wreck area and skied down. I took a long break at the bomber wreck and chilled. Once I got to San Fransisco Mountain I could hear voices below me yelling. I stopped and listened but couldn't understand them. I waited a couple of minutes and heard them talking to each other so I knew they were ok. Never saw or heard them again but saw they had signed out.

The peak was a little hot with the sun blasting me. I snapped some pictures and headed across the ridgeline. I thought about Agassiz but had dinner plans and was starting to get really tired. My plan was to glissade below and a little north of the saddle but my heavy pack and the heavy wet snow slowed me down and I only had a few good bursts. Eventhough it was Monday, I decided to contour back to the trail instead of taking the easy way out. Fun day...
Humphreys Summit via Dutchman Glade
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For New Years, we did a 3-day backpack down to Phantom Ranch and afterwards planned to showshoe around Snowbowl Lodge. I talked of taking it easy and going to Dutchman Glade but a few of the others teased that I should try summiting the peak. Be careful what you ask for! :lol: My legs were feeling fine even though we hike out the Bright Angel trail the day before, I was a natural on the rental snow shoes, the weather was perfect, and I had plenty of Gu's on hand, so I kept on pushing up the glade. :D I saw the bomber wreckage for the first time with barely enough snow to keep the shoes on... I got to a little past the treeline and it was SO rocky that I finally took the shoes off. :? Hmm, still no wind on this sunny day, my legs feel fine, and the altitude doesn't seem to be affecting me. :-k Things seem in slow motion up at altitude, must be the lack of oxygen :lol: , so the scramble up that ridge to the ridgeline to Humphreys took longer than planned as I text my buddies how close I am to the summit. :roll: The views were amazing up there as I slowly pushed to the peak and was again surprised to find only a trace of wind on the summit. :y: The skies were so clear that I could almost see the Pacific ocean. :sl: Took a handful of summit shots, walked the ridgeline back to the ridge above the glade, found a good line with plenty of snow, put the snowshoes back on, and plowed down that ridge back into the treeline as quickly as possible. :sweat: My poor buddies waited and waited for me and I eventually made it back to the lodge just a bit before sunset. Sorry! :whistle:

Only 5.5 miles?!? :o :sweat:
Humphreys Summit via Dutchman Glade
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I only sleep two hours and wasn't feeling well for most of the trip. After I ate at the summit, I started to feel better. I did some fun slides on the way back down. One of which measured about 100 feet. We started about 10am and the snow was a little soft but we weren't sinking too much. I ditched my snowshoes a little above the bomber wreck and never put them on again for the rest of the day. Fun trip.
Humphreys Summit via Dutchman Glade
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Conditions could not be better. The snow is the best it has been since last winter. Dense, moist, and stable, but also yielding when plowing through it on descent. Surprisingly, it was calm and warm on the mountain, and only on the rim and summit was it windy, but that just made it seem like winter had returned- which I liked. I took my time going up to enjoy the hike, and flew down. You can't beat a day like today. The weather was great, but lingering clouds made Navajo Mountain and the White Mountains the furthest I could see.
Humphreys Summit via Dutchman Glade
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The good news is that today was a good hike up and the sky conditions were pretty good so I took some slightly better pictures of the long distance view. I stuck them into my set from last week. I think my camera is limited for long distance and barring absolutely perfect conditions, these are probably about as good an image as I can get. It didn't feel like it was as cold or nearly as windy as they were forecasting, so that worked out nicely, too. The bad news is the Peaks really need snow. Snowbowl is probably fine for a while, but the back country is pretty bad, especially for downhill travel. The warm temperatures have melted the snow and made it very icy. That is fine for going up even if it isn't as fun as nice snow, but it is hard going down. I hope we get a good storm so I can hike this again with some nice deep coverage.

Permit $$
Special Use

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To Humphries Trailhead
From Flagstaff follow Highway 180 West 7 miles to FR516. Turn right onto FR516 (N. Snowbowl Dr) and follow 6.2 miles to the first large signed parking lot on the left.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 164 mi - about 2 hours 41 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 269 mi - about 4 hours 9 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 16.0 mi - about 31 mins
page created by Jim_H on Dec 22 2008 6:02 pm
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