By: Dave Jurasevich
FORBES (EAST SIDE) ROUTE
On Friday morning, April 1, 1994 at 7:15 AM, five of us met at milepost 16 on Arizona Route 286 to climb Baboquivari by the Forbes route. This route was pioneered by a Dr. Forbes of the U of Ariz. in 1898 during the first recorded ascent of the mountain. Our group included Mark Bender, Carol Snyder and Joanne Burkardt of the San Diego area, and Al Benson and myself from the LA area. The route proved to be more demanding than the standard route from the Baboquivari Campground on the west, requiring two additional 4th class rock pitches as well as some bushwhacking. Following are the approach and climbing directions for this route.
APPROACH: From Robles Jct. at the intersection of Arizona Routes 86 and 286, drive about 29 miles S on 286 to a good dirt road 0.2 mile S of highway milepost 16. Turn right (W), driving through a gate and 2.7 miles to a fork. Turn right here, following a fair dirt road N through a wash and then generally NW 2.85 miles to a second gate. Pass through the gate and go 1.95 miles on a poor dirt road (2WD high clearance needed in spots) to a windmill on the left. Continue another 0.3 miles to the parking area at a third gate which marks the boundary of the Baboquivari Peak Ranch. Parking is limited to about 4 or 5 vehicles. CLIMB: From the parking spot (elev. 4500 ft.) the impressive E face of Babo is in clear sight. Just to the right of the peak is a prominent saddle you'll reach by following a well-worn use trail up the canyon. Hike up the road beyond the gate to the ranch, skirting right of the main cabin and passing between a corral and low water tank. Pick up the use trail here and follow it up the canyon, crossing the creek bed several times. When the canyon begins to steepen, the trail bears right to gain the ridge above, following it and then contouring W to the above-mentioned saddle NE of Babo at 6400 ft. elevation (UTM 440154). From the saddle you'll see a deep notch to the SW (250° bearing). Aiming for this notch, pick up a use trail on the W side of the saddle, following it as best you can and bushwhacking as necessary to the base of a chute below the notch. Climb the chute to where it narrows near a large chockstone. Either climb 20 feet directly up and under this chockstone (may be wet), squeezing through an opening, or on the cliff face to the right of the chockstone to two bolts. A belay anchor can be set up here. Continuing up through the notch, follow a faint trail along the base of the cliffs to the start of the second pitch. Climb about 40 feet up the steeply sloping face and either continue straight up or bear left up a steep gully to two bolts about 90 feet higher up. From the bolts climb/walk 30 feet up and to the right, picking up a faint use trail along the base of the cliffs to the start of the third and final pitch at 7400 feet elevation. At this point the Forbes route joins up with the standard route from the west. Climb the left side of the wall for 15 feet to a bolt, then diagonally up and right to a second bolt 20 feet above the first. Continue up past two steel rods protruding from the rock (60 and 80 feet above the base of the pitch), then diagonally right to easier climbing in a 20 foot chute which leads to level ground. A good belay point here is a 4" diameter pine tree with a thick steel cable secured around its base. Head right through a notch, picking up a use trail which is followed to a short crack with a chockstone wedged 7 feet up it. Climb the crack and hike up the gully above to the cliff face, turning left and following a use trail to the summit.
RT STATS: 3400 feet elevation gain, 9 miles, 9 hours.
April Fool's Day evening was celebrated with a sumptuous feast at a view-commanding campsite in Thomas Canyon beneath the spectacular east face of Baboquivari. A special thanks to Mark Bender for leading pitch #1 and to the whole crew for putting their heads together and solving the approach and route-finding problems encountered along the way. Mark, Carol & Joanne went on to climb Mt. Ajo the following day, while Al and I bailed out on Woolsey Peak in the Gila Bend Mtns. because of 90º+ temperatures.
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