Peak(s):  Humphreys Peak, AZ - 12,637 feet
Agassiz Peak, AZ - 12,356 feet
Date Posted:  01/30/2011
Date Climbed:   01/29/2011
Author:  JsinDeAZ

 Arizonas only two 12ers in Winter  

Humphreys Peak (12,637) and Agassiz Peak (12,356).
Jan 29, 2011.
Solo ascent.

I scoured the web and could not find a winter report of climbing Humphreys and Agassiz in Winter. These are the only two peaks in AZ over 12,000 ft, with Humphreys being the AZ high point. I figured since I got my love of big mountains in CO, I would post the first real trip report of these two for my CO 14er family.

I had planned to hike this the weekend prior but scrapped the trip due to high winds. Was the right call, but also cost me my partner I was gonna do it with. So, I'd be solo. Which I sometimes prefer. Not so much in unknown winter settings though. So, I left for Flagstaff on Jan 28th. Agassiz Peak is the predominant one you see on your way in from the South on I-17.

Agassiz on way into Flagstaff.

I was about 30 miles south of Flagstaff when I realized I left my suitcase at home. The bottom fell out of my stomach. I couldn't turn around due to some prior business in Flag I needed to do. I felt confident while I had no clothes that I had packed most of my hiking gear before hand. I stopped in Flag and checked. I had everything for the hike except socks and a base layer. Phew! So, the worst was no regular clothes for the weekend. Fine by me. I found an outdoor store, bought some socks and a base layer. Then off for good food and pints before turning in. I awoke the next morning and headed for AZ Snowbowl (where my hike would begin).

Map of Snowbowl at Agassiz lift.

I got out of the car, took a deep breath, and slammed a can of Modus Hoperandi. Time to go. I began my hike at 7:45am. I was gonna be under the Agassiz chair lift the whole way up as it is the most direct line for reaching Agassiz ridge. Thankfully, the lifts don't open 'til 9 so I'd have just enough time to get to the top of the lift before people came. I strapped on the snow shoes. This was a pretty steep trek up this route. Tough goin, but straight forward.

Beginning of Agassiz lift.

It's important to note that Agassiz Peak is illegal to hike unless it is covered by snow. It comes with a $500 fine if caught. It's because a protected plant grows up there (Picture below). With snow cover, you can get at it. With that in mind, I unofficially climbed it. The Agassiz ridge ascent was intermittent snow, but the descent to the Humphreys/Agassiz saddle was fully covered in snow. I know the sign/fine is there for a reason. I treaded as lightly as possible on any exposed space.

I see snow, we have a go!!

Here was a look up the ridge of Agassiz at it's first false summit. Was mostly rock and scree. Mostly hard packed snow was good. I had removed my snow shoes and put on my microspikes.

Looking up Agassiz ridge at false summit.

A quick check to make sure Humphreys was looking good for the taking.

Humphreys from the ridge up Agassiz

I quickly made it to the top of Agassiz Peak. Gratuitous summit shot with saddle reflection in glasses.

On Agassiz Peak. Ridge view in glasses.

A shot of my saddle route over to Humphreys. Looks like a good one!

Humphreys from Agassiz summit.

Ice sculptures were spread throughout this hike giving it a rather artsy carnival feel.

Ice time on the ridge.

The saddle is a pretty straight forward hike. Snow was hard packed for most part, but a few postholes happened. Here's looking back at Agassiz while I descended the saddle.

View of Agassiz on saddle to Humphreys.

A quick shot to make sure that Humphreys is still waiting for my arrival.

Humphreys looking Majestic.

Another shot back up at Agassiz as I descended the saddle.

Looking back up the saddle ridge to Agassiz.

Here is a shot of the ridge I took up Agassiz. You can see on the far right toward the bottom where I started from and took the picture of the no hiking sign.

The ridge up Agassiz. The sign pic was lower right corner.

Here is a shot just before the low point in the saddle. I'm looking over at the saddle ascent of Humphreys. Lookin' good.

Just before lower saddle looking up Humphreys side.

I traversed the lower part of the saddle up Humphreys by keeping left and climbing over rocks. Snow was still packed in pretty tight, but postholes weren't forbidden. Here's a shot as I come into a clearing looking up at Humphreys Peak. A beautiful day, indeed.

Beautiful day on Humphreys Peak.

Just before the summit push on Humphreys, I swung back and popped off a picture of Agassiz lookin' righteous.

Money shot of Agassiz.

Finally on Humphreys Peak. Taking a break. Enjoying my much deserved summit can of Modus Hoperandi. I set the camera low and apparently the reflection off the snow gives the illusion that I'm on the sun. Sadly, I am not. I'm on top of what is the summit cove in the summertime.

Summit shot on Humphreys with low set camera and lots of snow.

I thought I would snap one last photo of Agassiz from the top of Humphreys. For some things, there just aren't words.

Agassiz from Humphreys summit.

Another one of Mother Nature's ice sculptures.

More ice. It was everywhere.

And some windblow ice/snow that did not want to leave this tree.

Ice/Snow windblown in tree.

No more pictures. Shortly after I took the last picture, I postholed next to a rock with my left foot and brang my right knee down on top of the rock like the sledgehammer of God. Until something like this happens, you don't know how you'd react. My first was "F*CK!!!!" Pain shot through my knee. My first fear was that I'd broke it. In a split second the whole scenario of being stuck on the mountain with a bum knee played out in my mind. I did some quick recon and realized I had just beat it to hell and that it was still serviceable. I got to the low point of the saddle (where the summer TH meets up). I shot off following it until it cut back then I just kept going towards where I knew the ski slopes were, intending to follow them back to my car. The slopes were steep, complete with postholing, sliding, and tripping. I knew because my knee was warm, it was still cooperating. I knew stopping would kill me. I managed to make it back to the car by 2:45pm. I grabbed a couple aspirin and washed 'em down with a Modus and set course for the hotel. I needed to assess my knee and take a hot bath.

The knee is sore as hell a day later and I'm hobblin' around. I'll give it another couple of days and if I haven't seen any improvement. I'll suck it up and go have it checked out.

Here is a crude of my route.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Nice trip report...
01/31/2011 14:59
on two great Arizona peaks. Glad you were able to summit successfully.

I was unaware of the route closure on Agassiz when I climbed both of them in September and didn't see any signs on the ridge from the top of the Snowbowl. It was only on my descent that I passed the sign in your photo - whoops!

Could you see the rim of the Grand Canyon from the summit of Humphreys? That was one of the most memorable views in my opinion.


The Canyon
01/31/2011 16:12
I could see the rim. Beautiful day. I took a pic. I'll try to post it later if you can see the rim clearly.


The Peaks
01/31/2011 21:44
Good report! Looks like you had great conditions. Love the panoramic views up there.

I have done Agassiz in winter 2008, we stayed just south of the Snowbowl boundary in the trees until that final ridgeline. It's a workout, you're right!


Nice report
02/01/2011 02:06
Glad someone finally did a report on these. Congrats!

Brings back old memories of learning to tele by hiking up under the Agassiz chair lift. The next year I bought a season's pass and it made a huge difference. Of course, you'd know I'm an old geezer if I told you that was 1978. By 79 or 80 we had legendary conditions - and skiing ”south side” (traversing over to Agassiz's south side) was all the rage. Steep and deep down to Schultz Pass Rd - 4000 verts in one run - ski out the road, hitch up to the SA, and do it again. We must have summitted Ag 3-4x in a day on great powder days.

Thanks for bringing back old, fun memories, and congrats on bringing a couple of significant neighboring-state peaks to the website.

And hey, I thought Arizona was like, all saguaro cactus and stuff, right?


Great info
02/01/2011 20:07
Thanks for posting this - I'm in Phoenix in a couple of weeks for business and was mulling climbing one of these peaks, but wasn't sure what the access was in witner. Useful info!
Thanks and congrats!


Nice job
02/04/2011 04:48
I too have been looking around for any winter trip reports and can't find anything of substance, so thanks for the great posting. Do you know if it is skiable and what would the skiing be like? I realize that the snow changes fast down there so I assume watching the weather is the first step in this.


Where it all began...
02/04/2011 23:56
Humphreys...the peak that took me from flatland armchair mountaineer to 14er to get a super rare winter report w/pics was great...thanks!

First spied these two in '07...driving alone on 180 to GC (had no idea what I was looking at then), that 8,000ft elevation hwy sign was my life highpoint back then. Got turned back by bad weather in fall of '08 and '09...but got my 1st CO 14er in snow that year.

Finally saw the summit of Humphreys Oct 2010 on a solo's prominence makes it special and that view of the GC rim makes it really unique. Good stuff!!! Thanks again for making me smile!


cool map!
05/25/2011 19:09
I soloed up there in Feb.19, a lot more snow and very windy!

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