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 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.
Matthias, Scott, and I had climbed Whitlock Peak Saturday and drove into Wood Canyon that afternoon. We spent Saturday evening and night at the campsite with Scott Casterlin, who I had not previously met. It was a fun evening discussing climbs and plans with only the sounds of distant ranch dogs and an owl around us.
Sunday morning Matthias, Scott Peavy, and I left Scott Casterlin who had plans to visit Fort Bowie and other historical sites for the day. From camp the three of us hiked directly towards Wood Mountain across open country while being watched by cattle.
We considered gaining the long ENE Ridge and following the ridge to the summit. However, several significant rock bands cut across the ridge higher and it looked like it would be a slow climb. Instead, we decided to climb a slope onto the ESE Ridge and follow it up to the ENE Ridge above the rock bands.
This plan worked out well, though the slopes and ridge became steeper than we had expected. There were several short rock bands on our route but we could easily climb around or over them.
Once we reached the ENE Ridge we turned west and followed it the rest of the way to the northern summit.
The northern summit had a cairn and summit register. It also had a witness mark, but we could not find the benchmark. We enjoyed the views to the west, north, and east and identified many familiar peaks. The Chiricahua Mountains rose higher to the south. Cochise Head watched us as we climbed the slopes and rested on the summits.
The southern summit seemed a little lower, but with the higher mountains behind it we were not sure of this. So we hiked across the summit ridge to visit the southern summit as well.
Here we got better views of the Chiricahua Mountains and Wood Canyon. We could not reliably determine which of the two summits was higher, so we were glad to have visited both.
We descended the same route back to the campsite, taking nearly as long to return as we had taken to summit. This is a pretty area. Sometime we may return to climb nearby Dunn Springs Mountain immediately rising from the campsite. Eva shared with me that hunters had spotted a cougar mother and cubs high on that mountain.