Mount Mellenthin in May

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Trip Report
Utah, United States, North America
Date Climbed/Hiked:
May 12, 2006
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Mount Mellenthin in May
Created On: May 14, 2006
Last Edited On: May 14, 2006

Trip Description

I climbed this peak yesterday, and since I didn't find any trip reports, I decided to create yet another login (this is like the 3rd time I've had to register on this site over the years) and throw this report on the site to help out anyone else who is considering this mountian, especially since info out on the internet is esentially non-existent concerning this peak.

First off, the route I took had entirely different driving directions:
Follow 191 South out of Moab, then turn L after 5 miles or so on Mt. Loop Road. Take a R at nearby 3 way. Follow pavement for 20 miles or so, then turn take a R to keep going uphill when the pavement fails in its upward ascent. This gravel road has a sign pointing to Gold Basin and Geyser Pass or something like that. Ascend for about 6 more miles, pass a snow park where plowing ends. As of May 12, I could get another 1/2 mile or so in 4wd skirting the snow banks to a junction w/ the road to Gold Basin. Parked there (~10,000') because it was impassible past this point. However, give it a week or two and I bet you could make it the last 3 miles to Geyser Pass in any vehicle.

Slightly beyond the intersection where a little creek crosses the road (I assume, it was under snow) there are two logs pounded into the ground to mark the winter ski route. I took this and it opened into a snow-free alpine meadow. At the top of this meadow, ascend into the trees. Skiers have marked a path through the otherwise impossible woods with pink forest-service tape. This then opens up into a long ridge meadow that widens considerably at the top, all of which was snow-covered at climb date. After a final steep barrier of trees, I reached the flank of Mount Mellenthin. From here the snow dissapears as the W-NW slope steepens considerably. I chose to climb the N shoulder, thinking it was less steep. I was quite wrong, it turns out the face was less steep. The shoulder was semi-flat rounded granite slabs at the maximum angle of repose (generally 45-50 degrees). Anyone who has tried to climb talus at it's steepest angle knows that this is a unpleasant and slightly dangerous endeavor, and this was no exception. Since I had to use my hands here I called this trip a "scramble" in the description. Maybe class 2.

Anyways, gained the N ridge, looked down the impossibly steep (maybe 60 degrees at top) and baby smooth N snow bowl and wished I had my tele's . Followed this ridge to summit. Near the top of the summit's shoulder it did get hands-on steep again.

Descended via the N ridge, then the W-NW face rather than that horrible shoulder. Still a sketchy, ankle-biting, knee pounding descent straight down. On the snowfields in the afternoon my 160 lbs. punched through the now weekend ice crust into the melting snow underneath up to my knee at times, threatening to break my leg as it was locked in place and I fell foward w/ momentum countless times, brusing and bloodying both shins (I was only wearing shorts) and causing intolerable frustration.

Stupid Things I did That You Should Not Do:
solo trip. always a bad idea, especially in this less-traveled range.
wore shorts while dealing w/ snow.
no hiking boots, only trail shoes. Very real twisting danger on upper mountain.
had no snowshoes. A must.

I'm in the area for work and had an unexpected day off, which is the reason
for all these equipment shortcomings.

Additional considerations: A) 2nd highest peak in La Sal Mountains, at 12,600+ feet, if you're not acclimatized this kind of altitude will knock most normal people on their ass.
B) this early in the season w/ few people around and the snow receding the big predators are out and hungry. Saw fresh cougar scat and heard a black bear (sounded young, even more dangerous when considering momma). Had no gun, no spray, no whistle, only an obnoxious singing voice with which to scare off animals in the dense woods.

Oh, and solitude galore for those in search of it.


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Mount Mellenthin in May

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