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Baboquivari - Western Approach
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mini location map2015-11-27
26 by photographer avatarrvcarter
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Baboquivari - Western ApproachTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 27 2015
rvcarter
Hiking8.50 Miles 4,254 AEG
Hiking8.50 Miles
4,254 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Babo from the west has been on our radar for a while. Mike, Frank and I decided to bite the bullit and get it done before it got too cold. Mike had done the SE Arrete a few years back, coming up from the east side and really wanted to try the Western approach. In brief, getting to the TH means going to Sells, AZ, going south about 8 miles on Hwy 19 past Topawa, then east about 10 miles on Hwy 10 (dirt road) to the Tohono O'odhum Nation picnic camping area (restrooms with running water!). The trailhead is at the east end of the CG. We had little trouble up the relatively good, easy-to-follow trail, although there was a lot of grass (mostly trampled down) which hid the little "roller" rocks. The Western approach usually involves the Forbes Ladder route, although one could still split right at the bottom of the ramp and get over to the start of the Arrete route (as trekkin gecko did). Forbes is a much easier, single pitch, 100 foot climb in the 5.5-5.6 level of difficulty. It seemed harder on this day because of the cold temperature and wind.

I highly recommend using one of the very good HAZ GPS tracks shown on the description for this hike. I didn't even post mine, which was crappy because I left my GPS in my stashed pack a short way up the ramp, when we geared down for the ramp climb. The scramble up the ramp is not to be underestimated. It involves some serious class 3 scrambling; the downclimb will take most people a while. Repeating what some others have posted, the technical part is at the top of the ramp, just around the corner of the cliff, up a black stained area. Remnants of the ladder can be seen up the route. There is a bomber set of anchors with nice chains at the top of what is exactly a 100' pitch from the base. Not much to set pro with on the way up, one 1/4 eyebolt and a few pieces of iron left over from the ladder (which was taken out by rock fall a long time ago). Mike took his time and got up ok and we followed. I've seem some triplogs describing some people doing the up and down without protection. I personally wouldn't take the chance, especially on the downclimb which is always harder. Recommend using climbing shoes but take your boots to change into for the several hundred foot scramble to reach the top. At the top of the technical part (which is on the north side toward Kitt Peak), go right initially then look for the easily visible path up and then left. The final part actually comes in from the east. Look at sbkelly's triplogs for info on gear. We used one lightweight 60 m rope, about 3-4 quickdraws, and 2-3 slings to connect to parts of the old ladder still embedded in the rock. Everyone in the group needs a harness and helmet. Frank and I will be forever grateful to Mike for carrying the rope up.

The views along the way and from the top are incredible. This is a great time of year to do this hike/climb, but it gets pretty cold at 7700 feet, especially if there is some wind. My toes were numb on the technical climb, which is in the shade. Check the weather before committing to this one. We saw exactly NO ONE the entire hike, and only one person in the CG. The hike took us 15 hours, 5 of which was driving time from Saddlebrooke. We left at 4:30 a.m. (yikes!). We took our time, with lots of stops, but the 4200+ feet of aeg is real.

Remember to call about the free permit (520-383-2366). Alternatively, you can obtain a permit from the Baboquivari District Office at the intersection of Routes 19 and 10, during business hours. Camping is also free.
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