|Hiking||5.13 Miles|| 5 Hrs 24 Mns ||1.06 mph|
|2,503 ft AEG|| 34 Mns Break|
||no linked trail guides|
|I'd been looking to get back to the Tinajas Altas since doing the Camino a couple of years back. It's a stunningly beautiful and rugged range, unlike any other in Arizona, and on our trip we were unable to do much more than cursory exploring.|
The forecast and calendar aligned and I put together a plan to spend the weekend here. I enlisted my mountaineering friend Matt to join us, and this loop was his idea. Matt noted that another hiker on one of those checklist sites had done both of these peaks on separate days. But a quick glance at some topos and a little GE reconnaissance made it seem like linking them in a loop would be possible.
We camped near the base of the two peaks. After a leisurely morning and breakfast we set out to ascend to the Raven benchmark. I had looked up the survey datasheet but the surveyor who set this station did so by helicopter, so there was no description on accessing it by foot. Nonetheless, the logical choice would be to ascend straight up a drainage that heads southwest and crests just a few feet west of the summit. 9L went that way.
I somehow pushed higher on the left side of the drainage and ultimately decided that it would be easier to head directly up to the ridge than to drop down to and stick to the drainage. For some reason, to his regret, Matt followed me. This ended up being a terrible idea! We got cliffed out several times and had to descend and traverse on both the north and south sides of the ridge before finally getting to a point where we could see the summit. I accepted my $5 Mexico day pass and texted 9L on the summit--he had been there for half an hour already. After having developed doubt that we would actually be able to get there via the ridge, we were happy to learn it would ultimately be possible.
We took a short break on the summit. The register had seen under 10 entries in 40 years. Of course, Barbara was one of them! Views were hazy, but there are not many summits in Arizona where you can sit atop and see the ocean. This is one of them.
Step one complete, 90 minutes to go one mile and climb 1600 feet! We looked across to 2740 ... a peak higher than the Raven BM by at least 26 feet ... but also really not 2740, with no elevation marked on maps. But whatever, I guess. The ridge connecting the two peaks drops 600 feet to a saddle before climbing back up. Both the descent to the saddle and the ascent back up to 2740 looked to be quite steep, but still doable. After listening to Matt and I complain about our ill-advised ridgeline ascent to the bm, 9L decided he wanted no part of what we had ahead and descended the drainage route he had come up.
Matt and I headed down the ridge to the northwest and this stretch between Raven and the saddle was an absolutely exceptional stretch of hiking, easily the highlight on the day. As we climbed the west side of the saddle up toward 2740 the geologic slanted rock of this range posed some issues. The slabs on the ridge were too large and sheer to climb, and traversing the slabs on the east side was exhausting. The west side of the ridge was vertical and exposed, but proved to be the best option for finding a shelf to get across, and/or a chute to climb higher when the shelf ended.
A little saddle with some cool geology was the final obstacle before reaching the summit which featured another register with not much more than dust in it
We looked a quarter mile west at 2687 for the trifecta but opted against it. Following the ridge down it turns nearly north before we had to climb a hundred feet to a small saddle before dropping steeply into a drainage that led back to camp. We stayed out of the true drainage to avoid the rare-for-here thick growth in the north-facing gully. Along the way we met up with 9L who was heading up in the reverse direction, but apparently forgot to drive the mile of road walk or bring cold beer.
As I learned on the Camino trip, this area is loaded with Bursera, the scent of which dominated the day. I'm a big fan.