San Juan County High Point Trip Report

Dates: September 26-28, 2003
Author: Dale Millsap

Friday, September 26, 2003

Left Salt Lake a little before 1 PM and drove all the way to La Sal Pass, arriving well before dark. After arriving at the Pass, we backtracked about 1/4 mile to a small jeep track that climbs up into the drainage below the ridge line. We followed it to its terminus and camped. We found an unusual number of cattle bones in the meadow just beyond our camp.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Left camp at 7:30 AM. I went for the triple crown, hitting Peale first, then north to Mellenthin, hitting both of the 12,000+ bumps on the way. I then headed over to Tuk, hitting the additional 12,000+ bump on the ridge. Having already covered a lot of distance and a fair amount of vertical already, Tuk was quite a challenge, but I made it. I opted not to go across Razor's Fang again, instead heading south on the ridge just southeast of Tuk. It was all cross-country, but the slopes are open enough that I could see just where I needed to go, and arrived at the vehicle at 12:00 noon. By my calculations, I covered almost 8.5 miles, climbed 4800 vertical feet. I now had 6 of the La Sals' 13 12,000 foot peaks on my resume. I was one hour behind Rik, so he had already taken down camp, and we headed out immediately.

We drove north on the very good 2-Mile Road, which becomes Geyser Pass, etc. I suggested that we take a shortcut on some lesser roads which I could see on TOPO USA. Armed with my laptop and a GPS, we proceeded, but it was very rough going. I would offer a recommendation to all that you use the main artery until you get to the turnoff for Beaver Basin. The six miles up Beaver Basin are a little rough, but not anything like the logging roads and jeep trails that we covered in my ill-conceived shortcut. We arrived at Beaver Basin by an old rusty truck and engine block very early in the afternoon, and we considered climbing Waas, but instead just had a nice evening in the Basin. Near our campsite lay the remains of a truck topper which had obviously seen at least one winter. It was made of aluminum and wood, so I dismantled it piece by piece and we burned/melted it in our campfire. We also cleaned a lot of other junk up in the camp area. With the exception of the small lumps of melted aluminum in the fire pit, there is no evidence of the topper anymore.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Left camp at 7:45 AM. We went directly north through the trees, coming out up high on the loose rock slopes. From there we curved a bit to the west, and hit Mt. Waas at 8:45 AM. I logged a geocache at the site. A thermometer in the cache read 54 F - very warm. We had considered going over to La Sal Peak and Castleton Mountain, but instead opted to go south to Manns, climbing the two unnamed 12,000+ bumps along the way. The first one has a small structure on top with an antenna, but I am unaware of its purpose. We were amazed by the old roads coming up this high, although none of them look like they could be navigated by a jeep today. It was a healthy hump up to Manns, and we were both feeling the effects of so much physical labor. From there, Tomasaki didn't look too bad, so we headed down into the saddle and across. We did our best to contour around the bumps in between, because they were less than 12,000 feet and "not worthy" of our efforts this time. Tomasaki was a pretty good hump as well. We stopped there at 12:00 noon and ate lunch, and I flew a kite for a few minutes.

Then it was back down to the saddle, around the same two unworthy bumps, and most of the way back up Manns before curving around to the northeast side to a minor saddle and down into the bowl where Beaver Creek starts. From there it was an easy cross-country traverse to the camp. We arrived at 1 PM.

I calculated this day to be 6.8 miles, 4400 vertical climb. We now had 11 of the La Sals' 13 12,000 foot peaks to our names. After driving back down Beaver Basin, we headed west toward Castle Valley and then over to Moab. We arrived home in Salt Lake at 7 PM, both feeling very satisfied with our time in the La Sals and eager to go back again sometime (we still have two 12,000+ peaks to tackle.)