Como Benchmark, South Comobabi Mountains, Arizona, March 2020

On Thursday, March 26, I visited Como Benchmark, the highpoint of the South Comobabi Mountains west of Tucson. The day was overcast with a low chance of showers but the schedule was open and I was eager to get back to working through my peak goals for this winter season.

The South Comobabi Mountains from the desert slopes.
The South Comobabi Mountains from the desert slopes.

I had previously scouted two road options. This day I selected the one that got me closer to the base of the mountains but required a bit more cross country travel. I parked beside a primitive road soon before it ended in a discrete spot.

Ocotillo, saguaro, and prickly pear cacti with brittlebush
Ocotillo, saguaro, and prickly pear cacti with brittlebush
Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa)
Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa)

My route started through mostly open country and led through openings in desert brush and cacti. I passed ocotillo, saguaro, and prickly pear cacti and flowering brittlebush.

Mining hand tools and the deep, dark mine or prospect opening
Mining hand tools and the deep, dark mine or prospect opening

Eventually I entered a former mining area and I found the miner’s trail switchbacking upslope to an abandoned mine. Some mining hand tools lay on the ground near the opening of a dark, deep mine. I saw another opening higher in the cliffs above. Greenish rock suggested it might have been a copper prospect. Nearby mines produced copper, silver, and gold. I thought about the strenuous and dangerous life of miners in the past.

The southeast ridge leads directly towards cliffs and Como Benchmark above
The southeast ridge leads directly towards cliffs and Como Benchmark above
Rainbow Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus rigidissimus ssp. rigidissimus) on the southeast ridge
Rainbow Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus rigidissimus ssp. rigidissimus) on the southeast ridge

From the mine I climbed up to the southeast ridge, following old trails where I could to avoid brush. Once on the ridge I could view the upper slopes of my goal ahead.

Approaching the cliffs from below
Approaching the cliffs from below

The southeast ridge leads directly up to cliffs. From Matthias’s previous trip report I knew he had climbed directly through the cliffs, rather than traversing around them on possibly loose slopes. So I headed directly up to the cliffs to see what they offered.

I decide this will be my route up through the cliffs
I decide this will be my route up through the cliffs

Higher, I put away my hiking poles and found a route through the cliffs on firm rock with nice foot and hand holds. Once above the cliffs I thought I might be more cautious on the descent and traverse around the cliffs.

Once above the cliffs I see the summit near ahead
Once above the cliffs I see the summit near ahead
The Como Benchmark summit. The benchmark, itself, lies on a slab to the right of my pack.
The Como Benchmark summit. The benchmark, itself, lies on a slab to the right of my pack.

The summit rose close by above the cliffs and I was soon there. I found the benchmark and eventually found the summit register placed by Matthias 17 months earlier.

The view down my ascent route from the Como Benchmark summit
The view down my ascent route from the Como Benchmark summit

I looked down my ascent route to identify my parking spot and to view my desert hike and the southeast ridge from above. In the above photo the southeast ridge lies below to the right. The access road and my Jeep lie below to the left. Coyote Mountain and Kitt Peak lie beyond.

To the west South and Ben Nevis Mountains lie in front of more distant Mesquite Benchmark and the Ajo Range.
To the west South and Ben Nevis Mountains lie in front of more distant Mesquite Benchmark and the Ajo Range.
To the north Gu Achi Peak rises above the North Comobabi Mountains.
To the north Gu Achi Peak rises above the North Comobabi Mountains.

The wind was calm and the visibility was good enough for me to identify many peaks I have visited, including Coyote Mountain, Kitt Peak, Baboquivari Peak, South Mountain, Mesquite Benchmark, Mount Ajo, Gu Achi Peak, and Mount Devine.

View southwest from Como Benchmark summit, with Peak 4545 on the left
View southwest from Como Benchmark summit, with Peak 4545 on the left

Peak 4545 rises to the southwest of the summit and seems to rival Como Benchmark in elevation. The USGS topographic map indicates Peak 4545 is 2 feet lower than Como Benchmark. If this changes on a subsequent USGS map I may need to return to these mountains.

I left the summit and descended around the cliffs to the west. The footing was sometimes loose but the route worked well and I soon rejoined my ascent route below the cliffs. I descended the ridge, passed the mine, and hiked across the desert to my Jeep. It was a successful and pleasant day in the Sonoran Desert and mountains.

In some of the photos I have identified plants with the help of iNaturalist.org. It is a helpful resource for identifying plant and animal species. I have started uploading observations and several people have been generous in helping me identify what I have seen.

Paul McClellan

About Paul McClellan

I had the good fortune to have spent most of my life in the Pacific Northwest, where I discovered the joys and addiction of hiking and climbing in the Cascade Mountains and other mountain ranges in the Western United States.
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