Ascent of Cottonwood Canyon Wilderness High Point on 2020-03-26

Climber: Eric Gilbertson

Date:Thursday, March 26, 2020
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Cottonwood Canyon Wilderness High Point
    Elevation:5018 ft / 1529 m

Ascent Trip Report

Signal Peak (10,365ft), Burger Peak (10,321ft), Cottonwood Canyon Wilderness Highpoint (5,018ft)

March 26, 2020


On Wednesday night I drove to the Forsyth Creek trailhead and camped in my car. I was the only one there, which wasn’t too surprising. That night it rained and snowed for several hours and I was worried it might affect my summit chances, but luckily it ended by morning.

I left the car at 7am in mountaineering boots and snowshoes. I made the difficult decision to leave the skis in the car, thinking the snow coverage might be too thin for them to be worth it. Very soon I would deeply regret that decision. The trail soon turned to patchy snow and I followed posthole tracks. After 30 minutes it became continuous and the posthole tracks turned around. I switched to snowshoes then and followed a set of ski tracks, but they also soon turned around.

The going was slow in the deeper and deeper snow, but I generally followed the creek and was usually able to follow the trail, until I reached a col at 9,100ft. There I decided to just bushwhack directly up the slope to Burger Peak. The trees were open enough that it wasn’t too difficult. I eventually reached the summit of Burger Peak around 11:30am, then descended and climbed back up to the summit of Signal Peak.

The morning had been cold and windy with occasional snow showers, but one the summit I got a few fleeting views of Zion national park in the distance, and the desert down below. It was quite a contrast to be looking down 5,000ft to desert just a few miles away, while I was standing on top of 5 ft of snow.

I soon turned around and made good time back to the car, arriving around 3pm. I had plenty of daylight left so drove northwest to the Enterprise Reservoir to try to hit some more wilderness highpoints. Unfortunately the road was deeply rutted and in rough shape past the reservoir, and I would need to follow that road for another 10 miles. The forester could handle it in those dry conditions, but it was forecast to rain and snow that night. I was a bit worried about getting stuck in the mud solo, so turned around and changed objectives.

I instead drove down to St George, then along a deteriorating dirt road until I reached Jeep Road 902. I parked there, then hiked down the jeep road and bushwhacked to the Cottonwoods Canyon Wilderness highpoint just before sunset. I was treated to excellent views of the sun setting on Signal Peak a few miles to the north.

I bushwhacked back and followed the road back to the car. I then drove to a nearby trailhead to camp for the night.

Link to full trip report and pictures.
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