Baboquivari: A Danger and Max Adventure

It was my last weekend in Arizona before I was once again banished to the Midwest.  Something epic needed to be attempted.  Danger suggested Baboquivari, “This one looks like it’s going to be way over our heads.”  ”Perfect,” says I.

We decided to do the Eastern approach and climb the Southeast Arete.  So we drove to basically Mexico and met some boarder patrol guys in in the middle of the night.

By epsilon
Nov 27, 2002
The most important thing to know is how to pronounce the name Baboquivari. It’s bad enough that you’re traipsing around on O’odham creator I’itoi’s sacred domain. To be making gringo mispronunciations within earshot of the Man himself isn’t going improve your chances of making it back to the camp by nightfall. I believe the correct stress is on the KEE syllable. It is _Bab – oh – KEE – var – ee_, not _Bab – oh – kee – VAR – ee_. It’s said like _den-of-thievery_, not like _bought-a-Ferrari_* or _shot o’ Bacardi_.

“Descending from the summit of ‘Babo’ can be notoriously epic. It is customary to bring a small gift to the summit to appease I’itoi. This, and some detailed beta, should help greatly with the descent.”

Our Adventure

We took a different dirt road than the one in the approach instructions but miraculously ended up at the Baboquivari “trail-head”.  The eastern approach seemed to have had a trail sometime in the 60′s but now its completely overgrown and non-existent for at least 3/4 of the way.  Next time I’m going to take the Western Approach since it took us about 6 hours to fight our way through a jungle filled with a great variety of thorny plants and cacti.

The approach was way more sketchy than the actual climb.  We ended up roping up at several points.  Although we were off route if there was indeed a route to be off of.

At one point treacherous fourth class scrambling turned into treacherous fifth class climbing.  We continued for a while before becoming too sketched out and decided to rappel.  During the rappel setup procedure one end of the rope became looped around a boulder the size of a coffee table.  We tried to tug the rope free and the boulder jumped from the cliff and fell on our rope named “Lagarto” severing him in two places.  The largest piece was about 120 feet.

Cut Rope! I’m going to write an angry letter to sterling because their rope could not withstand 100lb boulders dropped from 40ft.

We get scared and decide to rappel. Note scared face. This was probably the low point of the trip.  Even though neither of us mentioned bailing we were both thinking it.  We ate some candy and decided that we could probably make it to the summit before nightfall.  We considered doing an easier route but eventually decided that we were going to press on and do the SE Arete route anyway.

Drinkin’ from the bucket. We finally made it to the lion’s ledge and came across a bucket that was collecting a trickle of water flowing from the rock.  I realized that the green water need to be drunk.  It tasted like delicious minty tea.

Post tea we found what we thought we found the start of the route and I climbed a chossy crack that turned out to be pretty neat.  Danger informed me that we were off route; but thanks to the Baboquivari mountain god, I’itoi there was a kind ledge that took us 50ft to our climb.

Around this point a dense cloud bank moved in around Baboquivari, visibility was around 15ft.  Climbing in a cloud is a super surreal experience.  It is like being on another planet or different dimension.

The hardest move, for me anyway, was a kind of pull up move with minimal feet right above a belay station before any gear can be placed.  I hate possible anchor falls.  Danger lead the crux pitch and used up our entire 120ft rope, all the cams we brought, and half the nuts.  Since our rope was short we ended up turning six pitches into about 8 or nine.

 It was dark when we reached the summit and there was no way that we were going to make itdown that night.  We ended up breaking out some emergency blankets that we found (thank you kind leavers of emergency supplies) and making a small fire.  It was a little cold that night but I slept better than I usually do.

We left our offering of a fine red wine stored in a painstakingly cleaned hot sauce bottle to I’itoi and began the descent. The descent turned out to be not that bad.  We sort of knew where we were going.  The rappels were not too difficult to find and we ended up getting back to the car before we suspected that we would.

Then we met up with our friend Matt Estland in Phoenix.  I ate an extra large pizza by myself over a period of six hours and drank a lot of victory wine in Matt’s pool.

Fun Facts:

Food we brought with us for a day and a half: 4 candy bars and a can of Chef Boy.