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March 03, 2017

The Differences between Camel’s Hump, VT and Camelback, AZ

640px-Camelback_Mountain_2  640px-CamelsHumpVT2012


The most important difference between these two very different mountains is what happens when you stumble and reach out to grab the vertical object you see in your peripheral vision. On Camel’s Hump, the object may be a birch and you may crush a slug in your hand. Disgusting. On Camelback you will grab a cactus and you will wish you had crushed slug in your hand.

It’s true that both mountains have humps on them; actually most mountains which don’t have peaks have humps. Neither of the people who named these mountains had ever seen a live camel (don’t fact check me; I made that up).

Both mountains have scrambles at the top. On Camel’s Hump you scramble the last few hundred feet on solid granite. On Camelback the scramble is the top one third of one approach and most of the other approach, in both cases on not-very-trustworthy sandstone.

Which brings us to hiking sticks. On Camel’s Hump a hiking stick is a great help both for pushing up steep places and not tumbling down them on the way back. On Camelback a hiking stick is something you don’t want to have in your hand because you need to grab the rocks you’re scrambling over with both hands (see scrambling above).

Late news from the hot tub: the trails on Camelback used to be walkable. The recent heavy rains washed out the sand and left the shark-tooth-like jagged stone ridges which require two-handed scrambling.

The view from the top of Camel’s Hump is much prettier. Signs of civilization in Vermont are hidden from view by the geography so the foreground is green forest and the background is other mountains to east and west. Suburban sprawl is very visible on the flat plains between Camelback and the taller mountains on both sides as pictured below.


The view at the top of both mountains is disappointing: too many other people who seem to have easily made the climb you struggled with.

Dogs are only allowed on the Vermont mountain.

For a truly great hike in the Phoenix area, try Tom’s Thumb in Scottsdale’s wonderful McDowall Sonoran Reserve. The trail on hard sandstone has perfect traction; the landscape is a garden of huge rocks and cactus. Dogs are allowed. See author below at the eponymous peak, which is as perfect a pluton as Pinnacle in Stowe, VT.


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