| Sayres Benchmark Trio
Sayres BM 13,738
~11.3 Miles, ~5,500 Gain
April 25, 2009
At last, I finally have a Saturday off. I met up with one of my partners, Al, and we chose a good three pack, Sayres Benchmark, Point 13,460, and Point 12,601, off of Independence pass. I met Al at Trout Creek Pass off of 285 around 5:15 AM and we car pooled to the Lake Creek Trailhead (used for La Plata). I was hoping the road up the valley was going to be well packed by snowmobiles and it was. We left the car at 6:45 AM and made great time following the road. We followed the road for ~2.4 miles where we hit our first crux of the day. Crossing the river. We followed the river and found a decent place to cross. After crossing the river, we had to put on our snowshoes. Unfortunately, there wasn't a solid freeze the night prior so the snow was soft. We were sinking quite a bit with snowshoes. I love slushy trail breaking.
Finally, it was nice to have a partner to help break trail with. We slowly made our way up the north ridge directly east of Sayres Gulch. As we climbed higher, I was hoping the snow was going to firm up a bit but it didn't. Around ~11,200 feet we joined up with the road that meanders up the north ridge.
Once we got on the road the snow was firmer and every step wasn't knee or hip deep with snowshoes. We followed the road until ~12,000 where we took a break at an abandoned cabin (marked on the topo) and then continued up the north ridge. At ~12,300 we were finally able to remove our snowshoes where we followed the snow free rocky ridge. Hoping to avoid some unnecessary elevation gain, we started traversing on the road toward the 13,460-Sayres saddle. That worked well until we were about halfway where it was obvious, due to rock outcroppings, that we weren't going to be able to complete the traverse. We followed a rock rib to a saddle between 13,430-13,280 and took another break.
At this point, we dropped our packs and we headed southeast to the 13,460-Sayres saddle and started up the class 2 northwest ridge of Sayres BM. We arrived on the summit around noon. Even though the forecasted weather for the day was calling for a 40% chance of snow and overcast, the weather was holding out pretty good. There was just a high overcast layer which kept us cool and out of the sun. We returned to our packs after our 1 ˝ hour journey to Sayres and took another break.
Now for the short stroll to 13,460. We hiked up and over 13,430 and negotiated some interesting towers just short of the summit of 13,460. We reached the summit of 13,460 around 1:45 PM. At this point, I think Al was starting to feel the 5,000 feet of gain. From the summit of 13,460 we headed northeast then north towards our last objective, 12,601.
The weather at this point was starting to roll in and the snow started to fly. At one point, we couldn't see any neighboring peaks but the squall passed and we arrived on the summit of 12,601 with some sunshine around 3:00 PM. From the summit we headed directly north down some steep lose talus and once we reached the trees, had to don our snowshoes again. The snow was extremely soft and it seemed that it took as much energy to break trail going down as it would going up. At this point, I think Al's Wheaties ran out.
The crux that got us in the beginning of the day sure did a good job of getting us at the end of the day. We reached the river around 5:15 PM where we couldn't find a place to cross. After some explicatives, we followed the river north hoping to find a crossing but we got boxed in. It was a 50 foot deep canyon and we were less than ˝ mile from the car. Explicative. We headed back up and out of the canyon in some super slushy snow. Every step weighed an extra 10 pounds. Explicative.
After climbing out of the canyon, we decided to stay high and break trail through the slush in search of the bridge that is used on the La Plata standard route. We found the bridge and were home free back to the car where we arrived at 7:15 PM. Poor Al, I hope he will join me on another trip. Perhaps in the summer.
Can you find the rabbit?
Al reaching the road.
Break at the Cabin at 12,000.
Point 13,460 from the Cabin.
Traversing to Sayres-13,460 Saddle.
Sayres BM from the traverse.
Class 2 ridge to Sayres.
Al working his way up Sayres.
Apostle from the summit of Sayres BM.
Al reaching the summit of Sayres.
La Plata from the summit of Sayres.
13,460 from 13,430.
Interesting tower short of the summit of 13,460.
Al working his way around a tower.
Sayres from the summit of 13,460.
La Plata from the summit of 13,460.
Al starting his post holing adventures just short of the summit of 13,460.
Weather rolling in.
Weather rolling in.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):