Posted by: runuphill | June 23, 2014

LaSal Linkup Loop

As I drove out of Moab the scratchy FM signal began to fade.  It was time to change the station and settle down for the 4hr drive home, back to Salt Lake City after a quick but fulfilling adventure.  An ad on the radio reminded listeners why they should come to this part of Utah.  “Moab’s unique combination of beautiful redrock scenery, two national parks, and the allure of the Colorado River has made it one of the top adventure destinations in the West.”  Interestingly, no mention of the utterly fantastic mountain range less than 15 miles to the east, the La Sal Mountains!

Getting to know the La Sals better has long been a goal of mine.  A linkup of the 12 thousand foot peaks (“12ers”), of which there are 9 with 300′ or more of prominence, seemed like a great excuse.  I had mapped the route out several years ago, but the project had remained on the shelf.  When Jason Dorais and an army of other strong skimo dudes strung together a south-north route on skis in March my mind started scheming.  On Friday (6/20/2014) when Bryon Powell responded to an email telling me that the conditions looked perfect, the decision was made as to what I would be doing on the solstice.

This would be a solo trip, which meant that a shuttle would be tricky.  So, I modified the mostly north-to-south linkup and made it a loop, returning via a series of lower trails on the western side of the range to get back to my car.  Other than operating at about -1.5dB (i.e. a bit sick) due to a week-long illness, the adventure could not have been more perfect.  If you’re into endless talus fields, stunning views, frolicking through aspen trees, and a bit of route finding, I highly recommend this route.  It’s ~36 mile and 15kft of up:

LaSal Linkup Loop - overview map

LaSal Linkup Loop – overview map

For an aerial perspective (via Google Earth), click on the image below:

Google Earth "aerial" view of the route

Google Earth “aerial” view of the route

And, below are some highlight photos from the trip:

Me on the first peak, La Sal (12,001')

Me on the first peak, La Sal (12,001′)

Stunning view and contrasting colors looking down into Castle Valley.

Stunning view and contrasting colors looking down into Castle Valley.

Mount Waas (12,331') (left)

Mount Waas (12,331′) (left)

Another view down into Castle Valley.  Note Porcupine Rim

Another view down into Castle Valley. Note Porcupine Rim

The final three 12ers group to the south.  Mellenthin, Peale, and Tukuhnikivatz

The final three 12ers group to the south. Mellenthin, Peale, and Tukuhnikivatz

Gotta love talus fields!  This is the climb up to Mount Peale (12,721')

Gotta love talus fields! This is the climb up to Mount Peale (12,721′)

The "almost so beautiful it must be fake" view towards Castle Valley as seen from Mount Peale.

The “almost so beautiful it must be fake” view towards Castle Valley as seen from Mount Peale.

Ridgeline to Mount Tukuhnikivatz (12,482')

Ridgeline to Mount Tukuhnikivatz (12,482′)

My very steep & loose descent off Mount Tuk into Gold Basin.  This section is not for everyone.  If you're uneasy on this type of terrain you should probably consider an alternate route!

My very steep & loose descent off Mount Tuk into Gold Basin. This section is not for everyone. If you’re uneasy on this type of terrain you should probably consider an alternate route.  The upper part is steep enough that it doesn’t hold talus! Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Beautiful trails and aspens make up the majority of the return run.

Beautiful trails and aspens make up the majority of the return run.

Oowah Lake

Oowah Lake

My view the next morning as I left Castle Valley.   The uber-classic Castleton Tower and the Rectory.

My view the next morning as I left Castle Valley. The uber-classic Castleton Tower and the Rectory.

Elevation Profile - Actual

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  2. […] La Sal Linkup –  Finally made it down for this treasure.   Linked together the nine 12,000′ peaks in the La Sal Mtns of south-eastern Utah.  The views stunning.  Red-rock beauty far below and in all directions.  Story […]

  3. Hey Jared,
    Nice effort at Barkley Marathons your clearly a very sick man! I’m not that bright where, when and how do I enter?

    Thanks a bunch
    Adam Keen
    Akeen74@hotmail.com

  4. Hey Jared:
    I would love to attempt this in the fall. It looks like inbetween Mt. Tom and Mt Mellenthin you cross through some potential water sources like a creek or lake. Can you confirm or deny that water would be available on the non ridge portions assuming we had means of purification?


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