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Three Summits in El Capitan Quad, AZ
mini location map2015-05-14
55 by photographer avatarCannondaleKid
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Three Summits in El Capitan Quad, AZ 
Three Summits in El Capitan Quad, AZ
Hiking avatar May 14 2015
Hiking9.00 Miles 3,179 AEG
Hiking9.00 Miles   6 Hrs   38 Mns   1.41 mph
3,179 ft AEG      15 Mns Break25 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
I planned to hit four summits over two separate hikes but once at the second summit and saw the actual terrain I realized the planned route for summits 3 & 4 was not feasible so I just extended this hike to take in the third summit.
I drove partway up toward Peak 4220 on an old Jeep Trail so the first ascent would be less than .5 mile. However, due to my in-hike change-of-plans the consequence of driving up that far would come back to haunt me... the long extra climb added close to a thousand feet more elevation gain. Oh well, with enough food and fluids I had no worries.
It was a quick jaunt to the summit of Peak 4220, then a winding descent to the saddle between it and Peak 4169. On the way down I scared up a couple White Tailed deer, barely catching a shot of the first and about 15 seconds of video on the second... a bit too short to bother posting.
Along the way I encountered a large rock cairn seemingly in the middle of nowhere but after coming across a few more I realized they were actually part of a trail up Peak 4169. Hmmm, how convenient, I think I'll follow it.
It lasted until about a hundred feet below the line of rock barring the way to the summit ridge, where it simply died out. But rather than continuing on at the same angle (farther away from the summit) I headed straight up, figuring it would be easier to find a shorter alternate route if I could get a higher point-of-view. As it turned out, I reached the rocks in the best spot to scale the rocks. Just one offending thorny bush fell to my clippers and I was up without a scratch.

Although the slope on the ridge wasn't bad, due to all the loose rocks and prickly, pointy & thorny vegetation it felt like a real trek to the summit. But the views were awesome!
Ok, now that I made the decision to head for summit #3, what's the best route from here to there? I would find out quickly how little help the Topo lines on the map provided. I resorted to following a generally easy descent while skirting the edge hoping for a shorter route. Nearing the bottom of Silver Creek (between peaks #2 & #3) I found there was a slightly shorter route than I took, but at least I avoided the steep drops.

Once in the dry wash of Silver Creek the challenge was where to begin the ascent of Peak 4615. I checked out the area where Topo looked good only to find that area impassible, so I set off up Silver Creek, hoping to find another way up before the sheer walls.

I found one last possible spot, which meant following a game trail through thick and thorny brush about a hundred feet up the steep wall. Unfortunately the game that used the trail was SMALL game, so even doing some aggressive trimming I gained the only wounds of the hike. Thankfully none bled for any length of time.
But I was up onto the ridge! Ha! So what? Now I've got a LONG continuous trek to the summit, well over four times as for the previous summit. But being quite careful to choose the best route, long and winding as it was, it was simply tiring, not injurious. As I continued, I realized I'd have to be twice as careful on the descent as the rocks would roll at the least provocation, and they were the sharpest I'd encountered in a long time. (My boots would receive such a shredding at the end they appeared twice as worn as when I began.)
It was quite interesting to see a the many fossils stuck to the gray rock, enough it took my mind off the constant climb on the rough terrain. The HAZards for peak #2 & #3 were very similar... loose rocks, SHARP rocks, prickly-pear, ocotillo, pin-cushion, hedge-hog, cat's-claw, blooming-onion ankle daggers, agave, etc... everything but cholla, which I did encounter earlier when dropping into Silver Creek.

The views at the summit were even better than summit #2, the only thing to spoil it was the 45-50 mph winds... enough to whip off my hat (I had secured the strap to a carabiner earlier or I would have lost it over the edge) along with my glasses, which of course fell onto a sharp-edged rock, resulting in three deep scratches to the right lens. I guess that's what happens when I take my good glasses by mistake!
Another 4 months to go before VA allows for my once-a-year new pair.
Time to head back down the LONG slope. Again, since the Topo lines looked ok I took a shot at checking out the western slope... what a waste, perfect for half the way then a drop. So I climbed back up and headed back toward my ascent track. But then I was quite interested in following the now-dry Silver Creek up the canyon between peaks #2 & #3.

Not having found a better descent back into Silver Creek, I dropped down the same game trail that I used to climb earlier. Of course it was easier now that I had done the trimming on the way up, plus it's easier dropping 5-10 feet than climbing.

Lots of areas of interest along the dry Silver Creek, lots of caves along the walls, falcons chirping loudly (I guess I got too close to their nest?) a few narrow slots and even a herd of cattle. The first bunch of cows (including 3 calves) were mostly nonchalant by my passing, but farther on I met a bull who didn't take kindly to me stopping to take his photo... he gave me fair warning before I had the camera turned on so I thought better of trying again and just kept moving.
Once I hit the old Jeep/mining trail heading back toward AZ77 the going was a bit easier... still a continuous climb but I was getting tired of the soft sand of the wash. Along the road I came across a lot of old debris from mining times of yesteryear. Some of the stuff was interesting, most was just trash.
After the hike, now that I knew the old Jeep trail was passable I took a short drive back out a bit farther for a bit of recon for a number of upcoming peak-bagging hikes in the area. The El Capitan Quad has fifteen 300' prominence peaks in a reasonably small area, along with a few peaks in the next quad west, so I'll be back soon and often.

I took only 120 photos so I've got some weeding out to do before posting, probably less than half here on HAZ.
(I got it down to 110 over three individual peak sets on my own site)

Three videos:
Peak 4220 summit panorama
Peak 4169 summit panorama
Peak 4615 summit panorama
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Mescal Mountains Pasadera Mountain
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