Sunday, January 22, 2012

Humphreys Peak, Flagstaff Arizona

Yesterday Erika and four friends headed out of Snow Bowl, Arizona to hike up to Humphreys Peak. Starting at about 9,300 feet elevation the hike reaches the peak at 12, 633 feet. Only Mike made it to the Summit due to whiteout weather conditions and 50+mph winds.

This is the view of the valley at the start of the hike. Humphreys Peak was never actually visualized due to the cloud coverage.

Mike and Luis are discussing how to get to the trailhead.

Tom put on his snow shoes for slightly easier traveling while Luis continues to post-hole. We guessed wrong about the trailhead and had to post-hole through 1.5' of snow for about 45 minutes. Fortunately we saw two other hikers far to our right walking much easier than we were. The actual trail was fairly packed down and easy to walk on.

The terrain at these lower altitudes was snow and trees with easy visibility and little wind. When properly dressed so to stay warm, it was enjoyable. At the higher elevations, only bushes and shrubs could grow, so the wind was fierce.

I am freezing cold here, but it feels so good to sit, and the bush is providing a little shelter. In the first shot here I had my mask on and I jokingly asked "Was I smiling?" Luis insisted I take another shot without the mask. I don't know how I was able to smile. Maybe it's a frozen grimace.

Luis celebrating at the top of the ridge. This was not the summit, but it had been such a strenuous climb up that we were grateful to be close to the top. Luis, Mike and I bushwacked over some rocks up the slope in the direction of the trail's swichback since the actual trail became less packed down and disappeared into a field of white. The wind was so strong it actually pushed up us the ridge and past the trail. Luis and I were flying up while Mike stopped to add a layer of clothing. He saw the actual trail and proceeded to the summit. Luis and I tried to continue, but the snow was blinding and the wind was threatening to push us over the ridge.

On our way back down, we found the trail and a sign designating 11,400 feet. I'm not wearing my glasses because they were fogged and covered with snow.

Celebrating at the wilderness sign, making it safely back to the bottom. Notice my hair with ice on every strand. If only this jacket were waterproof, I love it.

Tom and Luis. Next stop: ski lodge for hot chocolate. I think I'll do this again in the summer :P