Ascent of Fiftymile Mountain on 2014-04-10

Climber: Edward Earl

Date:Thursday, April 10, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Fiftymile Mountain
    Elevation:7641 ft / 2328 m

Ascent Trip Report

Fiftymile Mtn is very well named. For much of the approach drive it is visible as a long, towering line of cliffs, sprawling for dozens of miles in a NW-to-SE direction. For most of its length its crest is guarded by multiple layers of sheer rock bands. It is a very impressive landmark. Thankfully, a breach in these cliffs above a bench two-thirds of the way up provides easier-than-expected access to the summit plateau.

On UT-12 5 miles E of Escalante, I turned SE on Hole-In-The-Rock Rd (37.7277°N, 111.5314°W). At the turnoff is an information station and BLM sign indicating mileages to multiple destinations. Zero your odometer at the turnoff. The road surface condition is high-speed gravel-- you can always go at least 30 mph, often 40. At 33.5 miles, the road dips across Hurricane Wash. At 34.6 miles is another wash. At 39.2 miles is Carcass Wash. At 40.2 miles is Sooner Wash. Additional washes follow at 42.0 and 42.7 miles. The wash crossings are often 50 feet deep and the road often makes 2 or 3 switchbacks climbing in and out of each one. Except possibly for the steep and rocky climbs at the wash crossings, the road is suitable for any street-legal vehicle. The wash crossings themselves are graded and pose no impediment.

Soon after climbing out of the final wash crossing, at 43.1 miles (37.3040°N, 111.0386°W), is a fork where I went R, following a BLM sign indicating 50 Mile Bench (another sign several miles earlier also indicates 50 Mile Bench; do not follow that one). This is the road that climbs up Sooner Slide. It is steep and rocky; high clearance would be highly desirable. Soon after the road gains the bench, at 47.8 miles (37.2686°N, 111.0704°W), I turned R at a junction. From this point the road heads NW along the bench. At 51.3 miles (37.3040°N, 111.1139°W), is a grassy turnout on the L by some corrals and a large rectangular boulder. I parked here.

I hiked a trail to the left of the corrals, then going though one corral, before beginning its climb through the cliffs, threading its way up through gullies and across ledges. The trail is moderately well maintained and is probably used to drive cattle up and down between the bench and the plateau above. After about 900 feet elevation gain, I gained the rim of the plateau (37.2983°N, 111.1130°W). Two large cairns, each about 4 feet high, mark the arrival. There are some fences. I proceeded through an open gate. From here it is a leisurely 2.5 mile, 200 foot gain stroll NW to the highest ground at Cliff TP. A large cairn harbors a register bearing the names of a few of our most familiar, prolific desert peakbaggers.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:1221 ft / 371 m
    Extra Gain:50 ft / 15 m
    Distance:7 mi / 11.3 km
    Trailhead:Fiftymile Bench  6520 ft / 1987 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Open Country
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:2 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:1 Hours 50 Minutes

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