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Eagletail Peak
6 Photosets

mini location map2017-01-28
13 by photographer avatarchumley
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Eagletail PeakSouthwest, AZ
Southwest, AZ
Hike & Climb avatar Jan 28 2017
Hike & Climb10.88 Miles 2,503 AEG
Hike & Climb10.88 Miles   8 Hrs   20 Mns   2.04 mph
2,503 ft AEG   3 Hrs    Break
1st trip
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The feathers of Eagletail Peak have always caught my eye. I knew it was a technical peak and had sort of resigned myself to knowing it wouldn't be a summit I would ever reach. I'm not a climber, though I have some basic gear and gym experience. When the opportunity came up to try this for real, I jumped at it. My initial research led me to believe I'd be able to do it though I was certainly a little bit anxious (perhaps even a little scared :scared: )

We headed out at the first sign of light, and the brisk air had dropped to 28 degrees. The approach across the desert is flat and boring. The climb to the saddle is steep but short. We traversed the knife ridge and there were a couple of dicey spots traversing an angled exposed slab and a tricky down climb. Across the knife ridge, we ascended to the peak from the northwest. It's a nice approach as the feathers are hidden from view until you arrive.

Upon seeing the feathers before us, I immediately shit myself and with little hesitation told toddak that I was happy with getting this far but climbing was not gonna happen. I offered to belay him so he could at least reach the summit. There was clearly an anchor and webbing up top, and after taking some time to scope the route, I became a little more comfortable with attempting it after all. As planned, toddak lead, setting up protection along the way. After he reached the top anchor, he stayed on rope and quickly hit the peak before switching over to belay me.

I began my climb and was able to clean the first two anchors before reaching a crux that had me stymied. I had a good spot to stand while I contemplated my options but no matter where I looked, I couldn't see a way through. I was very secure on the rope and would have attempted a crazy lunge or move if I could have envisioned where I wanted to get to, but it was like a dead end. The vertical wall didn't have anything that I could see using as a foot hold. I had watched toddak climb through this section earlier and knew it was going to be a challenge. I finally decided there was no getting past here and yelled up my decision of defeat.

The only good to come out of that was I that I was able to take a couple of photos as toddak rappelled off the top anchor. Luckily he was able to clean the two anchors I hadn't reached without too much extra work on the way down. Once back down we took a snack break and I headed over to the lower feathers to explore. You can get to the base between them with one short super-exposed class 4 scramble. From there each is a technical climb and at least one feather has a top anchor and webbing visible, I would be surprised if the other didn't as well (but I couldn't see it from where I was).

After heading back to the base of the north feather, a big horn ewe effortlessly ascended to the base of the south feathers where I had just been. This was amazing to watch. She spotted us and curiously kept an eye as she walked around the base of the peak for over 10 minutes before descending the other side of the mountain.

We decided to head back down and on the way spooked two more ewes. We were above them so we got to enjoy the unusual sight of sheep fleeing downhill. It was amazing to watch their agility as they traversed across the route we were about to take. We stayed below the knife edge on the way back to the saddle. This avoided the dicey stuff up top, but also featured some side-hill traversing and loose scree and footing. Not sure I can say one route is better than the other.

Even though I didn't make the summit, it was a great day. I love this range, and even if you don't intend to climb the feathers, this is a pretty impressive off-trail desert mountain hiking destination in itself.

I can't thank toddak enough for joining me on this one, bringing all the gear, leading, putting up with a muggle, etc. :yr:
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