Forbes Route (West Approach)
Avg: 3 from 24 votes
|Type:||Trad, 60 ft|
|FA:||Dr. Forbes and Sr. Montoya|
|Page Views:||7,056 total · 36/month|
|Shared By:||Nick Kuhn on Mar 25, 2002|
|Admins:||Greg Opland, Luke Bertelsen, JJ Schlick|
Caution: Human and Drug Trafficking Details
Traffic from drug smuggling and illegal immigration is high in this area. Exercise caution. US Border Patrol recommends avoiding this area completely after dark.
DescriptionAn ascent of the Forbes Route is an outing not to be missed, earning three stars not for the technical climbing, but for the experience as a whole. The mountain will make you earn its summit; with a lengthy approach, unmarked trails, fickle weather by Southern Arizona standards, and virtually unprotected yet straightforward climbing, it defines the classic Arizona mountaineering experience. Hikers who know how to belay and rappel can ascend this route if accompanied by an experienced climber.
The drive: To approach from the west, take Highway 86 to Sells. Turn south on what is probably the largest intersecting road in town. If you drive through Sells and start to think you missed the turn, you probably did. You should be heading towards the tiny town of Topawa. Babo will dominate your view to the left until you finally reach a sign pointing to the left for "Baboquivari Peak." There is a building/office on the east side of the road here. Turn east(left) and follow the dirt road until it forks, take the right fork, and follow it to its end at the Babo trailhead. My 2WD sedan made it fine, though I would have liked a bit more ground clearance. Bob Kerry's guide states the campground has water, tables, shelters, and is beautifully maintained. We found no running water, no shelter, and the place looked positively UNmaintained. Plan to bring all your own water, food, and stove if you expect to do dinner and camping. Supposedly there is a $3 use fee, but after 15 minutes of searching for where to pay both at the site and at the office back by the road, we gave up. Hope you're stocked up on good karma.
The hike: Unlike Forbes' and Montoya's first ascent, I recommend you do not do this in July. The hike in could be brutally hot between April and October. Late Fall or early Spring will yield comfortable hiking weather, just bring some warm clothes for the summit. The trail begins from the campground's parking lot, and climbs relentlessly towards the peak. The trail is only indistinct in a few spots, and even then only briefly. The views of Babo and the surrounding land grow en route. After about 4 miles and 2500ft of elevation gain, the trail will intersect The Great Ramp, an appropriately named feature that leads up and left and provides non-technical access to Babo's upper reaches. Some 3rd class climbing is engaged here, and a few old metal brackets still exist along the route. Continue up trough a small section of trees until you reach the base of the ladder pitch, with its distinctive metal brackets.
The climb: Rope up, clip the pathetic bolts if you choose, and don't fall. There are small ledges the whole way up and the climbing probably never exceeds 5.5, and then only for a couple of moves. A small tree with multiple loops of webbing stands at about 100 feet of rope. This is your anchor. There is also yet another ancient bolt several feet to the left of the tree, if you're nervous about using a single natural anchor. Chances are the bolt will fail well before the tree will, though. Belay your partner, exit right, and ditch the rope; you won't need it for the rest of the climb. Note your progress as you continue up as there are a couple spots where it may be easy to take the wrong line on the descent. Follow a worn trail to a spot that seemingly dead-ends. Look left and scramble this 10ft rock face and hike the remaining trail to the flat summit. The view is amazing. Chances are you'll have it all to yourself too.
The descent: Follow the trail back through the brush and downclimb the 10ft rock section. This is the hardest part of the entire climb. Return to the tree and use your judgment on the integrity of the webbing and rap rings. As you rap back down the pitch, you'll be smiling because you remembered to bring a 60m rope. The hike back down The Great Ramp can be tough after a long day. If it's wet or snow covered, a belay from those occasional old brackets may not be unreasonable in spots. Crank back to your car and don't forget to take a picture of the towering peak as you're driving away.