San Juan County High Point Trip Report

Mount Peale

Date: July 2003
Author: Scott Surgent

After some consideration on road access routes to La Sal Pass, we opted to play it safe and use the routes described in HIU and in the reports on CoHP. We arrived at the pass/parking area about 8:30 a.m. The map shows two roads leading north toward the base of the peak, but we opted to simply hike up the meadow and into the trees before coming up upon a knob at elevation 10,4xx (don't have map handy). From here we saw the eastern road (the one in Mike Schwartz's report) and hiked down to it, followed it in for a short bit, then entered the forest again where the road made a sharp turn left. Hiking up good use trails we eventually came to the base of the talus and the gully.

The gully was totally snow free, and very safe. The rocks moved a bit and we had to be sure of our footing but the exposure to falls was zero. After some interminable time up this gully we found the use trail mentioned in some reports and veered northeasterly out of the gully and directly up to the ridge. As Mike mentioned, this use trail is loose and soft. We achieved the ridge and, in increasing cloudiness, we hustled our way to the summit. Thunderheads were building on the nearby peaks (Peale was clear) but after a lightning bolt on a nearby peak, we immediately turned around and started down. Time at summit was maybe 90 seconds.

Coming down we took the icky use trail if only to get down off the ridge sooner, and basically retraced our steps. Once back in the trees we had a small hail event, then the clouds broke and we had sun again. We followed the easterly road south to the main road, then back up to my truck. Total round trip time was 5 hours 45 minutes.

Comments: If I had to do this peak again, and the weather was cooperating, I'd have driven up the easterly of the two north-trending roads (see Mike's report), and parked where convenient. The westerly of the two roads peters out relatively high on some talus slopes and forces one to hike up and down some obstacles to get to the correct gully. On the easterly road, enter the forest and one should come upon a use trail; it seems there were many and they all went up. As for the main gully to the ridge, I agree - ignore the use trail and stay in the gully until you are fairly high. Vegetation and grass tufts are on the higher slopes and make a traverse to the main ridge fairly easy. We planned to go down this way but the weather prompted us to descend via the use trail instead.

The monsoon really kicked up and for the remaining 3 days we were in Moab the La Sals were under huge thunderstorms pretty much from 9 a.m. on. We spent time in Arches National Park and Canyonlands, and had to dodge storms. The road out of Canyonlands (UT-211) was washed out while we were visiting. I was able to 4wd over the large rocks and logs, but passenger vehicles were stuck. We saw a few tourists simply stuck, waiting along the side of the road. Might still be there!