Ascent of Leeds Benchmark on 2020-03-25

Climber: Eric Gilbertson

Date:Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Leeds Benchmark
    Elevation:5185 ft / 1580 m

Ascent Trip Report

Zion Peakbagging – Lambs Knoll (6,353ft), Bobbie Knoll (6,217ft), Firepit Knoll (7,265ft), Cave Knoll (6,495ft),
Spendlove Knoll (6,895ft), Tianja Knoll (6,360ft), Pocket Mesa (7,528ft), Windy Peak (7,888ft), Leeds Benchmark (5,185ft)

Eric Gilbertson

March 24-25, 2020

I had plans to climb some country highpoints in africa over spring break but had to cancel last minute due to travel advisories from the coronovirus pandemic. So instead I capitalized on the end of a weather window Saturday and Sunday to get a winter ascent of Glacier Peak in Washington, then drove down to Utah for the rest of the week.

Utah was a good destination because it was within 1.5 days drive from Seattle, did not require flying, had many peaks that were outside of avalanche terrain, was generally dry, and wasn’t too hot yet this time of year. I decided to prioritize wilderness highpoints as peaks that would very likely have zero other people anywhere near them, so I could practice good social distancing.

Tuesday afternoon I reached the edge of Zion National Park, but went up toward Red Butte Wilderness on the northwest side where there weren’t any people. Just outside of the park there was a BLM trailhead for Lambs Knoll. I parked there and scrambled up Lambs Knoll and Bobbie Knoll, then drove a bit higher to just within Zion and postholed up Firepit Knoll. I stayed on the top for sunset, then postholed back and slept at the BLM trailhead that night.

Wednesday morning I postholed up Spendlove Knoll, bushwhacking through some dense oak bushes. I followed the ridge south and had fun scrambles up the sandstone summit cones of Cave Knoll and Tinaja Knoll. I continued driving into the park until I reached the end of the plowed road, when it turned into a snowmobile trail. I parked the car there and snowshoed up Windy Peak and Pocket Mesa.

Later that afternoon I decided to hit a different wilderness and drove over to Cottonwood Forest Wilderness. I had enough time to bushwhack up Leeds Benchmark, the highpoint of the wilderness, and make it back to the car before dark. There were a lot of cacti and it seemed like every plant had sharp ends.

I was very close to Signal Mountain, a 10,000ft peak that’s the higpoint of Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness. I tried to drive up to the southern trailhead, but it was gated, presumably because of all the snow. So instead I drove back down to Saint George and around to the town of Pine Valley on the north end of the mountain. The trails to the summit were longer from the north side, but the access roads were not gated.

I made it the Forsyth Creek trailhead before too late and slept in the back of the car. I was the only one in the lot.
Link to full trip report and pictures.
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