About two weeks ago, Saturday April 4, I left Tucson for a few days to visit three Arizona prominence peaks. Two of the peaks had been on my “Wish List” for a few years and I hoped to finally visit their summits. My first goal was to climb Buckskin Benchmark, the highpoint of the Buckskin Mountains just south of Arizona’s Alamo Lake State Park.
Buckskin Benchmark is the 86th most prominent peak in Arizona with 1887 feet of topographic prominence and 3927 feet of elevation. Three friends of mine, Matthias Stender, Michael Berry, and Scott Peavy climbed it on December 17,2017. With their trip report and given my pace I expected a long day, but not any route difficulties.
Saturday I scouted the driving route to another interesting peak, Big Horn Peak, then continued to the Alamo Lake State Park to see how busy it was during the Coronavirus epidemic. It was very busy, with all campgrounds full and the road between it and Wenden busy. At least I did not feel out of place enjoying the countryside when so many others were “sheltering in place”.
I left the park and found a nice campsite shielded from the highway not far from a watering hole. This also served as my “trailhead” for the next day. From here I had a direct view of the Buckskin Mountains while I prepared and ate dinner. I stayed up late enjoying the dark night sky.
Sunday morning I began hiking towards Buckskin Benchmark across the gentle and mostly open desert floor. I aimed for a canyon that provided convenient access to the SE Ridge of the mountain. Since I was hiking by myself, with only my own schedule to meet, I enjoyed stopping several times for photographs whenever the views suggested it.
I traversed up the south slopes of the canyon on good footing and ascended to the SE Ridge. The ridge also had good footing and I followed its crest towards the summit.
Midway up the ridge I climbed directly over short rock steps rather than traverse around them. This is the only scrambling I found on the ridge. I enjoyed climbing the firm rock along the ridge top, avoiding some unnecessary elevation loss and gain.
Reaching the top of the ridge I viewed the summit cliffs above me. I decided to follow Scott’s route by climbing up on looser slopes and around the cliffs to the right.
Once I rounded the cliffs I traversed directly to the summit, disturbing two javelinas above me on the summit ridge. They trotted along the ridge over the summit and out of sight. I was sorry to disturb them from their shady spot amongst the rocks.
The weather was pleasant and I enjoyed the views from the summit. I recognized several peaks to the south and east and tried to identify those to the west and north, destinations for another winter season. I found the benchmark and the summit registry and recognized several names recorded there.
After a relaxing lunch enjoying the summit views I descended the same route, pausing several times for photos. I returned mid afternoon to my Jeep and after a rest drove on to my campsite for the next day.