Josephine Peak

March 19, 2017


Tucson / I-19 Corridor, AZ

Josephine Peak is a not-so-often visited peak buried behind the much more famed Mt. Wrightson in southern Arizona. The lack of ascents is due to various obvious reasons. First of all it’s significantly overshadowed by its taller neighbour and more importantly there’s no maintained trail heading to its summit, and some degree of determination is required to overcome the desert brambles type of bushwhacking. The only information I had was the topographic map. Tagging the summit appeared like a mere stroll from Riley Saddle on paper, so why not…

Josephine Peak ascent route from Riley Saddle. GPX DL

The primary objective in this trip was no doubt Mt. Wrightson so all of the approach and return are written in Mt. Wrightson’s trip report. There’s a sign right at Riley Saddle indicating “Josephine Peak –>” which I was very happy to see as signs like this usually indicate a good trail. However, I was wrong as the trail soon became overgrown and then lost in the dense vegetation. Much of the plants are bramble types which made some “fun” exploration considering I did not wear mountaineering boots, gaitors nor the bush gloves… But it’s all ’bout your attitude and determination as a peak-bagger and I certainly do not lack any of them, so after a long while of suffering and swearing I managed to power through the mess.

Bushwhacking right off the bat…

Looking up the north ridge

The brambles…

Looking back towards Mt. Wrightson – a much better objective.

The typical terrain.

Upwards and onwards…

High up on the north ridge of Josephine Peak I had some options about the route. The easiest appeared on climber’s left but that would involve more bushwhacking, so I took a direct line up the spine overcoming some loose, 3rd class steps, and then before realizing I was already on the summit. The register was old and the entries justified my experience as nobody seemed to have found a “trail” up this thing…

Just below the rock band.

Looking down.

Ascending rock to bypass some bush.

But, more bush to come

Summit Panorama from Josephine Peak. Click to view large size.

The eastern view into the desert.

Miller Peak to the south-east

Mt. Hopkins

More about the southern view. Mexico in the far distance.

The old summit register

Mt. Wrightson.

Me on the summit of Josephine Peak

The downhill grade on descent surely helped the bushwhacking but I still had to be very careful about the brambles. I more or less retraced the route I took and got back to Riley Saddle without too much loss of blood.

Heading down..

Descending near the rock band.

Dealing with all types of bushwhacking…

Into the brambles field…

Oh yeah.. Power it through…. Be a MAN… 

Overall I would not recommend Josephine Peak unless you are that guy who just has to bag this peak. For me as a visitor from the far north I don’t think anybody would give a damn whether or not I get this peak so all those sufferfest was pretty much for nothing. There are plenty of other objectives that’s far more pleasant, but hey I got an introductory to the desert bushwhacking and I’m happy about the experience.