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Ascent of Sawtooth Mountains High Point on 2020-02-15

Climber: Kurt T

Date:Saturday, February 15, 2020
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Sawtooth Mountains High Point
    Location:USA-California
    Elevation:4684 ft / 1427 m

Ascent Trip Report

13 hour day linking Sombrero, False Sombrero, Red Top, and Sawtooth Mountains HP. Approx 18 miles with 7000 feet of gain/loss. Several sections of cross country, boulders, and brush to contend with though so the stats somewhat belie the difficulty. Attached GPX is hand drawn approximation of the route and should not be used for precise navigation.

McCain Valley Road is an excellent (35mph plus) dirt road to 1/2 mile north of Cottonwood Campground. The road then narrows and a rutted, washed out section is soon encountered, requiring high clearance. After this rutted section, the road is much better for the remaining mile to its end.

From my low clearance parking spot, I was atop Sombrero in 1 hour 15 mins. There are two competing high points. What appears to be the higher one is easy, but the rock with a BM requires 15 feet of handjamming a somewhat difficult crack. The traverse to False Sombrero took 1.5 hours, but the route I took wasn't as direct as it could have been. The terrain is relatively easy with some sections of boulders and bushwhacking, but nothing too bad. I'm surprised more people don't use this plateau traverse either from Indian Valley or McCain Valley. A good loop would be to ascend Sombrero from the South Fork of Indian Valley, traverse to False Sombrero, and then descend the sandy slope of False Sombrero to the North Fork of Indian Valley.

From False Sombrero I descended northwest to the Inner Pasture. The gully was initially sandy, fooling me into thinking it would be a quick descent, but quickly became slow with lots of boulders. Upon reaching the valley floor, I thought I could save time by heading directly up Red Top's southeast ridge instead of heading west to the standard ascent gully. Until contour line 3800, the ascent was steep but easy going. After this though, the ridgeline became very brushy, boulderly, and had several draining up and down sections before the final climb. My improvised route saved me about 1.5 miles of distance and maybe 10 minutes of time but was probably more physically taxing. Time from False Sombrero to Red Top was 2.5 hours.

The traverse from Red Top to Sawtooth took about 1 hour and 20 minutes despite the two being less than a mile apart. The Sawtooth summit block is Class 3. Surprisingly, two other parties had climbed it earlier in the day. It was 10 minutes before sunset, so I didn't linger in order to get down to the Inner Pasture before it was fully dark. I bonked hard on the ascent of the Pepperwood trail and the final 4 miles with 2000 feet of gain took 3 hours.
Summary Total Data
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Kurt T
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. Peakbagger.com accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file




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