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Black Mesa - Superstition Mountains
3 Photosets

mini location map2021-03-13
15 by photographer avatarKingLeonidas
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Black Mesa - Superstition MountainsPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking3.59 Miles 1,228 AEG
Hiking3.59 Miles   2 Hrs   47 Mns   1.72 mph
1,228 ft AEG      42 Mns Break15 LBS Pack
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Route Scout Route Recorded  on Route Scout Popup | MapDEX
Day 2 of our Boulder Canyon expedition. The general consensus was that people were pretty tired from the hike in (one opted to stay behind on account of sore knees and less than optimal weather). So of the 3 possible day trips; Battleship mountain, Black Top Mesa, and Weaver's Needle we opted for the easiest; Black Top Mesa.

Unfortunately, while I did download the route for the hike in/out I forgot to download the day trip routes so navigation was going to be a bit of a challenge. I did have both digital and paper topos so we went for it.

We weren't sure if there was an established trail to the top (or if it was bushwhacking) so when we got to a relatively gradual approach we went for it. This is how we managed to do Black Top Mesa "the hard way".

The going was not difficult initially with the ground a bit crumbly from the recent (and occasionally continuing) rain showers. We were able to manage about half the ascent very quickly before it started to get a bit scrambly. At this point we consulted our maps and seeing how far we had come figured it would be easier to keep going than try to go back and find an easier way.

The loose gravel slope turned into more or less continuous granular stone that required the use of hands as well as feet but was quite grippy and otherwise not difficult to climb. There were smooth and generally loose black colored boulders in increasing concentration as we approached the summit. These were a much more prone to getting kicked or pulled down the slope than the other material and we made it a point to avoid using them as holds and spaced out a bit after a near miss.

The weather began to turn sour again with hail an sleet joining in with the rain. At this point we were very neat to the top and the difficulty level increased again. The final push definitely strayed into class 4 climbing territory. We were not equipped to do actual rock climbing so we took shelter in a nook to wait for the weather to let up and to scope out the best route forward.

After eating some snacks and waiting for a break in the weather we went for it. The first attempt ran into a dead end and backtracking but the 2nd found a relatively easy way up. The face had a convenient ledge so we were able to break up the scramble into 2 sections with everyone piling onto the ledge before the final ascent to the top. The last stretch had another of those loose giant black boulders in the perfect position for a handhold. Avoiding it made for a challenging obstacle.

Having got to the top we immediately found a campsite and established trail which ended up leading down the north (rather than south) side of the mesa (so much for re remembering roughly which way the route went). We took this trail and looped back to our basecamp for an afternoon of card playing out of the weather (which finally cleared up that evening).

Despite the accidental nature this was actually are really interesting and fun little off trail ascent. The views of Weavers Needle on the way up were excellent ad the mesa provided a good 360 degree vantage point. If I were in the area in the future with a willing group and the weather were drier I would definitely do Black Rock Mesa "the hard way" again.

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