winter and summer routes on Tukuhnikivatz and Peale (South La Sal mountains, with maps and climbing diagram)
We used our alpine skills (lol) to climb Mt. Tukuhnikivatz (however you say that) and Mt. Peale, 8000' above Moab, UT. I've schemed to do this trip for a couple years - the La Sal mountains sure can look a dozen snow cones in the winter. The other part that made it neat is the location high above Arches, Canyonlands, and the confluence of the Colorado and Green rivers in the Utah desert - we've explored down low around there for at least few years now.
lt turns out that 'Tuk' comes from an indigenous (Ute) origin, and you know there weren't many Czech or Romania explorers scoping out the early US West.
We camped at La Sal pass on Memorial weekend. Got up at 5:30 am to start at 6:30. We summited Tuk at 10am, then Peale at 1pm, and were back at camp at 4pm.
The daytime weather was fantastic (becoming completely sunny and about 50F on the summit ridge). The wind was not nearly as strong as the 30 mph gusts predicted for Peale on http://www.mountain-forecast.com.
The online info for these peaks was nonexistent, so I'm hoping my maps & photos definitely change that.
The south La Sal peaks consist of mostly talus with a few areas of scree. So there is an advantage to snow climbing them, where the season looks to be best mid-April through mid-May. The A and B routes must be climbed earlier in the season. The P couloir is more robust. By Memorial day, even the C and T couloirs are starting to become melted. The peaks can be climbed in the summer (via routes S or T), but the scramble up rock at 25-30 degrees probably would make the average hiker a little nervous. It can be done though; i's easiest if you step on the bigger flakes, which benefit from neighboring rock. These mostly held in place for me, particularly the flakes that were oriented vertically. The routes are certainly no steeper than 40 degrees with only a few small ice patches at the edges, so leave your ice tools at home.
There are numerous opinions to pass the Razor Fang. Early season, one might easily traverse the snow field on the south face. Some prefer to stick to the ridge itself (following maybe 10 feet below on the south side). The exposed ridge here is not for beginners. We traversed lower, following around at about the same height from the west side. That requires stepping up scree and loose dirt on near the east end. The rock at the Razor Fang is particularly rotted. Rock climbers would do much better on the slickrock around Moab, which would actually be able to hold an anchor (there's really nothing to rock climb here).
In early season even the La Sal Pass road is likely to be snowed in, so bring snowshoes or skis just in case.
Tuk routes: Couloirs A and B would be scenic at sunrise (where you could see the shadow of Tuk cast on Moab, particularly from A). These might be accessed from the west on La Sal Loop road outside of Moab (then turn off at the Pack Creek exit to drive up as much of the thawed out jeep road as possible). Practically speaking, to snow climb A and B, you will probably need to snowshoe around from the east side of La Sal pass from highway 46. Couloir B is the direct route, looks like a steady 35 degree climb. Couloir C looks to remain the latest, also at about 35 degrees. The trick to getting on couloir C is to stay right and continue following up the drainage past the first rock fields coming down fromt he ridge S. The ridge S is the summer route, if you don't mind climbing on talus (mostly flat granite flakes). The base of the mountain starts at 25 degrees here. Access C and S by driving in from the east from 46 on La Sal Pass road.
Peale routes: Couloir P is a good snow route (as with most of Tuk, looks like 35 degree pitch) that might be used to quickly access the summit (with a short walk to the right up the summit ridge). The base of couloir P is near Beaver lake, which likely requires a snowshoe in March or April. The T couloir is the easiest summer route that may be used to access Tuk or Peale. To get to Tuk, cut left from the top of T and follow along the Razor Fang immediately to the left. To get to Peale, cut right fromt he top of T and follow the ridge to the summit. The T couloir is 20 degrees at the top, which would make for a great ski. The T couloir steepens to about 25 degrees in the narrow middle section (where it is glissaded without effort). The safest access from Gold Basin is up the north face to the top of the T couloir, which is at the low point in the saddle between Tuk and Peale.
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