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Double Pete Lollipop, AZ
mini location map2019-12-21
4 by photographer avatarShatteredArm
photographer avatar
 
Double Pete Lollipop, AZ 
Double Pete Lollipop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Dec 21 2019
ShatteredArm
Hiking10.10 Miles 4,225 AEG
Hiking10.10 Miles   7 Hrs   9 Mns   1.46 mph
4,225 ft AEG      15 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Partners none no partners
Sometimes you do really dumb things and you live to tell the tale. Early last week, a friend of mine in Tucson had this idea to see if it's possible to connect Agua Caliente Saddle with Elephant Head Saddle. I said.... sure, I'm in.

I did some prework using topo maps and satellite views, and noticed one stretch that might be a little tricky, but other than that, it looked doable.

After turning onto the road to the TH, I saw the ridge, spotted said tricky part, and at that point figured there was a good chance we wouldn't make it all the way down to Elephant Head Saddle.

The pleasant surprise of the day was that there was a pretty decent route from AC all the way up to the summit of Pete Mountain. After that... Well, if you've spent much time in the Santa Ritas, you know how thick the vegetation can get.

Getting down off Pete wasn't too bad, just a lot of shoving our way through brush. We looked at the ridge ahead, saw the 2-3 obstacles along the tricky section of ridge, and planned an attack. In order to avoid a minor summit, we dropped down, traversed a very loose, sketchy skree slope, and climbed up a steep, narrow ravine hoping there was a good path on the other side. At the top, we just found... sheer cliff and trees.

At this point, we had a better view of the obstacles ahead, and came to the determination that if we were to try to find a way down to Elephant Head, we might be out there, on the shortest day of the year, for several hours, just to find we have to backtrack. A little risky, to say the least. But we figured we might be able to traverse down the ridge to the south to the towers, where it would be an easy jog back to the cars. So we headed down the steep, vegetated slope, around a rock fin, and then back up a steep slope to the saddle where we'd get a good view of the ridge to the south.

Unfortunately, after getting a good view of the ridge down to the tower, we saw that it had a fairly significant obstacle of its own, and decided not to go that route. I suggested that, if we made it to the top of the peak we had just skirted, there is a pretty good ravine back down to familiar territory, which would allow us to bypass some of the sketchy stuff we had just done, and really didn't want to do again. So up we went!

On the way up the peak, there were a few scrambles (maybe a class 4 in there? Don't really know how the ratings work, but hands were required). With 40-50 vertical feet left and a lot of rock face, we decided to traverse around the peak and see if we can find a better route up a ravine, and sure enough, we found an easy way up, found the ravine I saw earlier, and got back down to the non-sketchy-but-thickly-vegetated area without incident.

After a long, 7ish hour 10 miles, we were back at the trailhead, and I have since decided that the traverse from AC saddle to Elephant Head is most likely doable, but due to the amount of vegetation, it would require a lot of time, and even more willingness to force your way through thick vegetation.
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