I first saw North Star Peak from the summit of Forest Hill, the highpoint of the Little Rincon Mountains, last March. It appeared to be an interesting peak and worth a visit. So I was eager to join other Southern Arizona Hiking Club members early December to climb it.
We met Tuesday morning, December 17, drove to the east side of the Rincon Mountains, and parked along Ash Creek. Our route followed Ash Creek upstream a short distance, passed through a gate, and followed an old rancher’s trail along an intermittent stream northeast towards Hidden Pasture.
We crossed the stream several times and passed through a scenic spot of pools and waterfalls. None of us fell in.
The morning was cold and breezy but fortunately we were sheltered from most of the wind. The sky was clear and the sunshine and shadows enhanced the contrast of the rocky slopes around us.
Eventually we arrived below the northwest gully that led up towards the upper saddle of North Star Peak. The gully was steep, grassy, and rocky. But other than some catclaw the brush was minimal and we made good time up the slope.
We took a quick break at the upper saddle, then climbed the last few hundred feet to the rocky summit just out of view.
The summit was colder and windier than our ascent so we did not spend a long time there. We found the summit register and entered our names, had a quick lunch, and I took several photos.
We descended our same route. Low in the northwest gully a large rock broke free and began rolling towards several of us. Fortunately it soon stopped and no one was crushed. One of us sprained his ankle (we later learned he broke it) rushing out of the fall line but was able to hike out on his own, avoiding a cold bivouac.
It was a beautiful day, with grand views of the Rincon Mountains to our west and rocky slopes around us, pleasant walking beside a scenic stream, and the company of good companions.