On Thursday, January 2nd, three friends and I climbed the highpoints of the Tat Momoli and Silver Reef Mountains southwest of Casa Grande, Arizona. These little mountain ranges are visible from the Casa Grande Mountains, a popular hiking area for residents of Casa Grande.
I was accompanied by Bill Hiscox, June Meyer, and Brian Larson, fellow members of the Southern Arizona Hiking Club. It was the first time on foot in these mountains for all of us.
Tat Momoli Mountains Highpoint
We met Thursday morning in Tucson and drove north to a discrete parking spot near the Tat Momoli Mountains. A Border Patrol “truck-mounted surveillance package” looked down on us from a few hundred yards away. I expected we might be visited by the Border Patrol upon our return, but it seemed a secure place to park while on our climb.
From the parking spot we hiked over a ridge, crossed the paved road we had driven in on, and continued across the desert towards the cliffy Tat Momoli Mountains just to our north. The country was mostly open with a few wash crossings and very minor brush.
We entered a broad west-facing draw and climbed up to a ridge leading towards the highpoint of the mountain range.
From there we climbed the south ridge and traversed around Peak 2440. The south ridge held a lot of teddy bear cholla, my first encounter of this winter season. A comb is very helpful in removing the segments from your clothes and body.
The highpoint lies just southwest of Jack Benchmark, hence the highpoint is unofficially called “Jack Benchmark Southwest”. We visited Jack Benchmark as well, which was a short hike northeast along a rocky ridge with some optional rock scrambling along the way.
The morning was sunny with pleasant temperatures and good visibility. We returned to my Jeep the same route but was not visited by the Border Patrol. Perhaps they had been watching us all along and had decided we were not of interest.
Silver Reef Mountains Highpoint
From the Tat Momoli Mountains we drove a few miles north and parked in a rock quarry amongst the Silver Reef Mountains. The location was well screened from any highway traffic.
From the quarry we hiked across the desert towards the highpoint of the Silver Reef Mountains. I could not see into the rocky gully ahead and wondered if we should take the ridge blocking it. A friend’s previous route led up the gully so we kept moving towards it mouth. As we hiked I studied the slopes, gullies, and cliffs ahead of us. I tripped and nearly fell on my face, entertaining the others.
We entered the rocky gully. Boulders covered the steep slope but the rocks were mostly stable and the brush was minimal so we made good progress towards cliffs above us. The route switchbacked and bypassed the cliff bands high in the gully and led us up into a teddy bear cholla-filled basin.
After carefully moving across the basin we climbed up a slope and arrived at the first candidate highpoint. Here we found a short metal post and a rock pile containing a summit register. We rested here for a short while to take in the views.
From our highpoint we spotted an alternative highpoint to the northwest across the summit ridge. A tall pole rose beside a saguaro and implied it was a significant location. The ridge was open and we soon reached the tall pole. We did not find a register at that spot, and it looked lower than the first, but this way we had our highpoint whichever one was the highest.
We descended through the teddy bear basin, down the steep, rocky gully, across the desert, and returned to Tucson without incident. It had been a fun and productive day exploring two little mountain ranges in the Sonoran Desert.