Gila Peak, Arizona, November 2021

On Friday morning, November 12, I met Matthias and Scott in Fort Thomas, west of Safford, Arizona on US Highway 70. Our goal that day was to climb Gila Peak, a prominent peak in the Gila Mountains of Graham County.

An afternoon view of Gila Peak as we descend off the upper northwest ridge.
An afternoon view of Gila Peak as we descend off the upper northwest ridge.

We had many miles to drive in on dirt, dusty, and eventually rocky roads. Scott left his Subaru in Fort Thomas and rode with Matthias in his 4Runner. I drove my Jeep with new tires and suspension.

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Monkey Face, Oregon, June 1995

Monkey Face is an often photographed and climbed rock tower at Smith Rock State Park in Central Oregon. Linda Topping and I climbed Monkey Face on June 11, 1995, 26 years ago. The climb was an exciting and memorable experience. We fondly remember the climb when we see Monkey Face on our hikes or bike rides in the area. But we have never repeated the climb.

Monkey Face from the southeast in June 1995.
Monkey Face from the southeast in June 1995.

In the view of Monkey Face above, “Bohn Street” is the ledge just above the notch on the left at the base of Monkey Face’s neck. The “bolt ladder” leads up the overhanging neck to the right side of Monkey Face’s mouth. From there we climb out of the left side of the mouth up to the nose, a large rock block with anchors, then scramble up through an eye socket to the top. The overhanging rappel begins at the right side of the nose block.

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Maricopa Peak, Arizona, April 2021

On Tuesday, April 13, I climbed Maricopa Peak, the summit of Javelina Mountain and the highpoint of the Sand Tank Mountains. Maricopa Peak is visible to the south from Interstate 8 about 20 miles east of Gila Bend, Arizona. It has 1484 feet of topographic prominence, making it the 155th most prominent peak in Arizona. It is located in Area A of the Sonoran Desert National Monument.

Linda and I enter Area A of the Sonoran Desert National Monument last December
Linda and I enter Area A of the Sonoran Desert National Monument last December

Last December Linda and I explored the access road to Maricopa Peak. I found the road passable with high clearance to a parking spot close to the peak. We considered returning sometime to camp there to make the trip a family outing. But the opportunity to return did not arise before the desert became too hot for a pleasant camping trip. I was running out of opportunities to return this season so I decided to give the peak a try in spite of the warm temperatures.

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Wood Mountain, Arizona, March 2021

On Sunday, March 14, Matthias Stender, Scott Peavy, and I climbed Wood Mountain in the Northern Chiricahua Mountains. Wood Mountain has 1446 feet of topographic prominence, making it the 162nd most prominent peak in Arizona. But we climbed 3000 feet from Wood Canyon to reach the twin summits and return. It was a more challenging and interesting climb than we had expected, and it was satisfying to summit this rarely climbed mountain.

Wood Mountain from Wood Canyon Road south of San Simon, Arizona
Wood Mountain from Wood Canyon Road south of San Simon, Arizona

Wood Canyon lies south of the town of San Simon, Arizona. I scouted access to Wood Mountain two weeks earlier. On my drive I met Eva Morin who with her husband Howard owns the Morin Ranch close by up canyon. She wondered if I was off route to Portal. I explained that my friends and I hoped to visit Wood Mountain in the near future as part of our “peakbagging” activity. I verified with her that we could use a nearby primitive campsite and cross the land from there to the peak.

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