Flatiron and Superstition Peak

Elevation: Flatiron - 1481 m, Superstition Peak - 1541 m
Elevation Gain: Flatiron - 732 m, Superstition Peak - 792 m
Flatiron is a prominent flatiron-shaped feature on Superstition Peak. Superstition Peak is a summit in the Superstition range just east of Phoenix, Arizona. In addition to serving as a popular recreation area, the Superstitions play a key role in the legend of the lost Dutchman's gold mine. According to the legend, Jacob Waltz (a man of German - or Deutsch descent) claimed to have discovered a massive gold mine in the Superstitions. Waltz reportedly shot people who attempted to follow him as he returned to the mine for more gold and died without ever revealing its location. According to one estimate, 8000 people seek out the mysterious mine annually, with some losing their lives in its pursuit.
My Ascents:
March 1 2012

There’s nothing like an escape from the frigid northern winter! After months of snow and cold, Brianne and I decided to visit her parents (who are much smarter than us and winter in sunny Arizona). Officially, we were there for a family visit (and what a lovely visit it was). Unofficially? Well, what better way to get a head-start on my 2012 summit tally than to take advantage of the desert climate and bag a peak in the nearby Superstitions? After a couple of pleasant conditioning hikes with Gary, Karen and Brianne, Gary agreed to show Brianne and I the way up nearby Flatiron so that we could bag our first peak of 2012.

The sun rising behind Flatiron. Tickets to the Flames-Coyotes game that evening necessitated an alpine start to our day. Not necessarily a bad thing when you're scrambling in the desert heat!

After a nice early morning hike, we arrived at Siphon Draw where the scrambling starts in earnest. Our first objective (Flatiron) is the prominent point in the center above the water-worn ascent gully.

Enjoying the hands-on scrambling without having to worry about freezing your hands!

Our early start and an approach up a west-facing gully kept us in the shade all morning. Thank God!

Some simple climbing on the crux of the ascent.

Having just made her way up the crux, Brianne offers some pointers to her dad. He didn't really need the help!

Almost there! The (unexpectedly?) flat top of Flatiron rises up over Apache Junction and the desert below.

Flatiron panorama. Click to see larger.

Tour guide.

Four Peaks rises dramatically from the desert floor to the north-east.

A western ghost town in the valley below.

Other people go to hot places for their winter vacation. We find somewhere warm and climb until it gets cold again!

Near the summit of Superstition Peak, there’s a blackened spire from where a plane crashed killing all 6 occupants just before Thanksgiving 2011. Signs at the trailhead warn you not to disturb any debris remaining from this tragedy.

Although Flatiron is the most prominent point of the mountain, it is not the true summit. The summit of Superstition Peak is, in fact, the point on the left of this photo. Naturally, we had to keep going!

The scramble to the true summit was much less well-travelled than that to Flatiron and cacti provided a route-finding challenge to which I am unaccustomed. Here Brianne and her dad pose in a small tunnel which we had to crawl through to get to the summit.

The view from the top: looking down on Flatiron.

Weaver’s Needle is a prominent igneous errosional remnant to the east. According to the legend of the lost Ductchman's gold mine, the shadow of Weaver's Needle indicates the location of the elusive gold mine.

Spectacular desert views from the summit.

Our first summit of the year!

Brianne and I on top.

Heading back down…or trying to at least; stuck on a down-climb. I’m getting a little rusty in the off-season!

Local wildlife.

All the way back down! Looking back up at Flatiron, fully lit by the hot afternoon sun.

Go Flames go! What better way to cap an afternoon of Arizona scrambling than to watch the Flames cruise to a 4-2 victory over the home-town Coyotes!