There are two summits for Prominent Point – the East and the West, with the East summit being slightly higher. Unfortunately they are separated by a deep cleft, maybe 100 feet deep. For a long time I’d wanted to hike the long ridge up to the West summit because it just looks big and dramatic, and …. prominent. I finally did it on December 21, 2019.
Is it a great hike? No, there’s too much picking your way through things that could hurt you. Is it a worthwhile hike? Yes, if only once. The upper section is fun and interesting, and when you finally reach the top it feels great to be there.
The red line is the route I followed up the big ridge to the West Summit. The blue line is an alternate start from the Campbell Avenue trailhead. The purple line is what I did after reaching the West Summit.
Starting at the Pima Canyon trailhead, follow the trail for a mile or so until you are past the big hulking rock on the right (Rosewood Point). A shallow scoop on the right leads up to the ridge line, and after initially breaking through the vegetation by the path, you’ll pick your way up, basically following the river bed.
Just before you reach the ridge, turn left and follow another shallow scoop northeast, through fields of shindaggers. Keep heading uphill until you reach the ridge. From here, stay on the ridge. There are points where it seems you’ll have to make major descents, but the ridge avoids all these descents.
The upper part of this hike is much more fun than the lower part – better views and less cactus. Finally you reach the West summit, an area with several small rock pinnacles. From here you can gaze across at the East summit and the deep cleft that separates it from you. Unfortunately you can’t see Finger Rock from here.
If you have any sense, admire the views then retrace your steps.
I, with less sense, decided to see if I could get across to the East summit. Don’t even bother unless you are comfortable with doing class 3 and 4 (and maybe easy 5th class) scrambling with the potential to seriously hurt yourself if you fall.
Start by scrambling down to the north then east. Some class 3 and 4 downclimbing led me to a spot where a sideways jump gained easy ground. A chimney in the sheer wall of the East summit (maybe easy 5th class) and some easy scrambling led to the top of the East summit, where you can look down at Finger Rock and over at Finger Rock Guard.
However, the chimney looked rather daunting to descend so I found an easier descent to the east but unfortunately this led to a huge drop, so I scrambled further north and climbed down a very exposed but relatively easy arete on big holds. Then scramble down on the west side into the gully between the two summits.
At this point I could have climbed back up to the West summit but didn’t relish the thought of descending the fields of shindaggers, so I kept going down, following the gully down and west until I finally joined the Pima Canyon trail. Unfortunately, as my hands and arms can attest, this involved going past lots of scratchy plants. In retrospect I wouldn’t recommend going this way 😱.
Another start to the ridge is to drive up North Campbell to the Campbell trailhead, just before the gate into the gated community. It’s a strange trail, heading north for about half a mile between two high fences. Finally you reach the end, where the hill rears up in front of you. Go up slightly to the right and you’ll find a slight trail with cairns which leads upwards. Don’t go to the top of the hill, but instead contour right shortly before the top, then over to the obvious scoop that leads northeast up to the ridge.
Links and Other Clicks
A page on Summit Post about Prominent Point.
Desert Sirena’s page about climbing the West Summit.
Desert Sirena’s page about climbing both summits on different occasions.
Debra van Winegarden’s page about climbing both summits.