Greasewood Mountain, Arizona, January 2021

On Tuesday, January 5, I climbed Greasewood Mountain and Grease Benchmark in the southern Pinaleno Mountains just north of Willcox, Arizona. Greasewood Mountain is the 101st most prominent peak in Arizona with 1751 feet of prominence. Grease Benchmark is the subsidiary southwestern summit of this double-summited peak. I had driving waypoints from the Southern Arizona Hiking Club and the relevant topographic maps.

A morning view of Greasewood Mountain from the drive in from Willcox.
A morning view of Greasewood Mountain from the drive in from Willcox.

I left Tucson early in the morning and drove east on I-10 to Willcox. Taking the Fort Grant exit I headed north towards the peak. The road soon turned to gravel but was in good condition. The route took a gas line road, a powerline road, and finally entered Wood Canyon where the road deteriorated.

The double summits of Grease Benchmark on the left and Greasewood Mountain on the right. I parked below them to the left.
The double summits of Grease Benchmark on the left and Greasewood Mountain on the right. I parked below them to the left.
Much of the road was in good shape, but occasionally I encountered rocky sections
Much of the road was in good shape, but occasionally I encountered rocky sections

High clearance was required and 4-wheel drive was helpful getting across some rocky washes. I tried to correctly judge the height of these rocks versus my Jeep’s clearance and choose a line to follow accordingly. But at least once I heard a rock bang against the Jeep’s under armor. Several times brush scraped the Jeep’s side. I watched the tire pressure readings in case of a puncture, but as usual none occurred.

After climbing Wood Canyon I reached a water tank and parked my Jeep
After climbing Wood Canyon I reached a water tank and parked my Jeep

My Jeep handled the road very well. We reached the end of the road at an empty spring-fed water tank with ample parking.

Once on the ridge I followed it up to the right to a saddle below Grease Benchmark rising on the left
Once on the ridge I followed it up to the right to a saddle below Grease Benchmark rising on the left
From the upper south ridge I finally saw the summit of Greasewood Mountain to the right and traversed directly towards it
From the upper south ridge I finally saw the summit of Greasewood Mountain to the right and traversed directly towards it

The climbing route started up a steep slope to a ridge. From the ridge I got my first view of Grease Benchmark. I followed the ridge up to the right to a saddle, then traversed up to the saddle between the two summits.

Looking northeast to the summit of Greasewood Mountain from Grease Benchmark
Looking northeast to the summit of Greasewood Mountain from Grease Benchmark
The Pinaleno Mountains rise to the north from the Greasewood Mountain summit
The Pinaleno Mountains rise to the north from the Greasewood Mountain summit

From the saddle I hiked the slope to the northeast to the broad summit of Greasewood Mountain. After searching for a while I found a summit registry partially buried in a rock cairn. I added my name to the others in the registry who had visited here. I enjoyed the views of the surrounding mountain ranges.

Looking southwest to Grease Benchmark from the summit of Greasewood Mountain
Looking southwest to Grease Benchmark from the summit of Greasewood Mountain
The high point of Grease Benchmark was this rock, with the GREASE benchmark and summit registry on top
The high point of Grease Benchmark was this rock, with the GREASE benchmark and summit registry on top

From the summit of Greasewood Mountain I descended back to the saddle and hiked and scrambled up the rocky southwest summit, Grease Benchmark. The GREASE benchmark, itself, was located on the summit block.

The view south included the Dos Cabezas and Chiricahua Mountains
The view south included the Dos Cabezas and Chiricahua Mountains

The day was sunny and warm and I had good views of the many surrounding mountain ranges. I enjoyed remembering the trips I had made with others to visit those ranges over the past 5 years and identifed a few more peaks I hope to visit.

Yucca were some of the few green plants on the slopes; it has been a dry year since last winter
Yucca were some of the few green plants on the slopes; it has been a dry year since last winter.
Descending towards my Jeep and the empty spring-fed water tank. The Winchester Mountains lie in the distance.
Descending towards my Jeep and the empty spring-fed water tank. The Winchester Mountains lie in the distance.

The hike, itself, was short and I took my time descending back to my Jeep with camera handy. The return drive went well and I returned to Tucson by mid afternoon.

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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