4

Camelback Mountain Bees Nail Rock Climbers on Hart Route -- Again

^
Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

Saturday's bee attack on Camelback Mountain occurred on Hart Route, the notorious spot where a climber died six years ago in a similar mishap, a fire department official confirmed today.

Several news outlets covered the story over the weekend, but none shared the name of the climbing route.

We found Saturday's incident interesting for two other reasons: One, another climber on a nearby rock braved the bees to help the pair stranded on the three-pitch Hart Route, which the Rock Climbing Arizona guide describes as an "easy old classic."

Two, we happened to be scrambling around near Hart Route on Saturday, about two hours before the besieged climbers started calling for help.

We snapped the above shot of climbers on the Praying Monk at about 1 p.m., and chatted with folks about the many climbing possibilities in the area. Two guys we met said they were considering going up Hart Route, and we told them about the beehive and its history.

In 2004, Keith Abbe, a martial arts instructor from Midland, Michigan who'd recently moved to the Valley, and his friend were attacked by the bees. At least one beehive is located at the start of the third pitch. Unable to fix a rappel to reach the base of the climb, they decided to untie from their ropes and downclimb. Abbe fell about 50 feet to his death.

Bee stings are commonplace at Camelback Mountain, one of the top hiking spots in the Phoenix metro area, but climbers can be particularly vulnerable to a swarm attack.

Experts advise running away or seeking shelter indoors during an attack. In the vertical world, options for retreat are limited. In August, for instance, we told you of a Tucson-area climber who suffered about 1,500 stings while stuck at the top of a route on Mt. Lemmon.

On Saturday, two out-of-state climbers reached the start of the third pitch of Hart Route and found themselves under aerial attack.

We know some of you are thinking that the state's infamous "Stupid Motorist Law" ought to be extended to cover hikers and climbers in situations like these. But in Saturday's incident, says Phoenix Fire Department spokesman Jonathan Jacobs, the two climbers neither called authorities for help nor required any treatment when they finally got down.

A hiker in the Echo Canyon parking lot called 911 to report that they heard people near the Praying Monk yelling for help, saying they were stuck and being attacked by bees. The anonymous caller said he was leaving immediately to avoid being blocked in by the fire trucks he knew would come, Jacobs says.

It's unclear why the climbers were stuck, but media reports indicate they may have had a rope problem not unlike that of Abbe of his partner. Before rescuers could reach the two-man team, another climber had scrambled up Hart Route with second rope and helped the victims rappel down. Jacobs wasn't sure whether the man who helped the climbers was stung. The act smacks of true heroism either way, as far as we're concerned.

The two climbers had numerous stings when they met fire officials at the bottom of the route, but were otherwise in good health. They refused treatment, and officials didn't even get their names, Jacobs says.

With all this in mind, we'd like to suggest a new guidebook description for Hart Route:

An easy, old classic. With really angry bees that'll frickin' try to kill you.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.