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Ascent of Markagunt Hills on 2020-03-28

Climber: Eric Gilbertson

Date:Saturday, March 28, 2020
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Markagunt Hills
    Location:USA-Utah
    Elevation:10661 ft / 3249 m

Ascent Trip Report

Brian Head Peak (11,3o7ft), Markagunt Hills (10,661ft), Ashdown Gorge Wilderness Highpoint (10,440ft)

March 28, 2020

Eric

On Friday evening after climbing Canaan Mountain I got back to the trailhead around sunset and started my drive back to Seattle. I made it to Parowan and turned off to find some national forest to sleep in. My goal was to get in a quick ski of a few nearby peaks Saturday morning before continuing my drive north. The trailhead I’d planned to sleep at turned out to be on a closed road. I continued driving up to the closed Brian Head ski resort, and amazingly the road was plowed past the resort.

The temperature kept dropping – I was pretty high, over 10,000ft on the road – and was 10F as I left the little ski village. I drove through fresh drifts on some exposed section of road then made it to some trees and a pullout with a sign “Snowshoe and ski parking only”. I was very surprised to find a plowed pullout. It would be perfect for me to camp at, though I was a bit nervous about getting stuck in the fresh snow. I pulled barely in, inching forward and back to make sure I could get out, until I was off the main road.

It was very windy outside, but I managed to boil some water with my jetboil and cook some mountain house dinners. I only had a 40F sleeping bag, so blasted the car heat until I was ready to go to sleep, and slept in all my layers. I managed to stay asleep until 5am when I was woken from the cold, but blasted the heat for another few minutes and went back to sleep.

At sunrise I suited up and put my skis on. I quickly skied over to the nearby Markagunt Hills summit and was treated to an excellent sunrise view. I skied back down, then drove down the road a bit to another pullout. I put my skis back on and skied along the wilderness boundary into the trees to hit the Ashdown Gorge Wilderness highpoint, which was a viewless point in the woods.

I saved the biggest prize for the end. I returned to the car, then crossed the road and skinned up Brian Head, the tallest peak in the area. It was almost completely above treeline, and took about an hour of skinning and kick turning to finally reach the wind-scoured summit. There were no other people around, though I did see one set of old ski tracks, perhaps from the previous day. I admired the view, then switched to downhill mode and got some fun turns in back to the car. That afternoon I continued my drive north, making it to near the Washington border that night.

Link to full trip report and pictures.
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