Ascent of Peak 8953 on 2013-06-07

Climber: Steven Thompson

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Friday, June 7, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Peak 8953
    Elevation:8953 ft / 2728 m

Ascent Trip Report

I got nothing.  Usually these trip reports write themselves throughout the day as I hike.  Little things catch my attention, thoughts form in my head and it is a matter of remembering long enough to jot them down for a story.  This hike was grueling and steep.  And that's what I thought about, nothing else.

Drive south on 143 toward Brian Head and Cedar Breaks National Monument, at the chain up area park and begin the climb.  I had planned on hiking up the ridge line to the south, but upon parking I noticed a fairly well traveled path up the wash so decided to follow that route.  The wash led to a beautiful alcove of limestone overhangs and a steep workaround on the western face.  Above that nothing but game trails.  Picking my way through the wash I soon turned south and followed a steep game trail to a minor ridge.  Turning west, I finally made it to a very large cairn and the main east/west ridge line.  I'm not sure what the cairn was marking, I didn't find any registration or geocache so I assume it marked the ridge.  Surprisingly I didn't find a well traveled path either, given the size of the cairn.

The ridge line turns very steep once again and I drew closer to the composite rock "beehives".  Prominent in this area, the beehives rise above the trees and make for stunning landmarks.   I soon found that getting around them can be a daunting issue.  I had planned on dropping across a high saddle to the north, but the terrain is to steep;  I have a difficult time traversing through the number of washes leading off the face.  I finally put my hiking pole on the lowest setting and jamming it into the ground using it like an ice pick I slip and slide from tree root to clump of vegetation as I claw my way to the ridge.  Whew what a climb.

Reaching the ridge above the beehives I look at the very long ridge between my current location and Peak 8953.  Still a lot of ground to cover and a lot of elevation to gain.  I set off hiking among the juniper, pinion pine and manzanita.  Climbing the ridge to the first false peak I catch a glimpse of an arch.  Surprised, I pick my way among the trees for a better look.  A beautiful limestone arch sits just off the false summit.  Definitely reaching the end of it's life cycle the limestone arch is reminiscent of the unique triple Bartizan Arch at Cedar Breaks National Monument just a few miles down the road.

Continuing along the ridge, I spy a grove of Bristlecone pine trees.  Bristlecone Pine trees "are thought to reach an age far greater than that of any other single living organism known, up to nearly 5,000 years", they exists in some of the harshest environments of wind swept ridges, poor soil, and high altitudes.  I wasn't surprised to see them on this trip.

Peak 8953 sits atop a rugged red outcropping of limestone, to reach the summit, follow the ridge to the outcropping, and dropping into the wash on the western side, traverse, scratch and claw your way through the limestone tailing to the summit.  The summit is a rounded knoll with manzanita and pines.  The views are spectacular.  I had planned on hiking two peaks today, my plan had included a time of 4 hours for peak 8953 before proceeding to the next peak (Peak 9090) before calling it a day.  Looking at my time, I had already used up 4 hours and I had barely reached the summit.  Eating a late lunch, I spent some time reviewing possible descent routes.  This is steep, rugged country.  Not a single ridge made an easy path to the road.  All contained, ravines and gullies.  Most were clogged with bushes and trees.  I decided to proceed back the way I came, opting to stick with the devil I knew.

Marking good time off the summit, I spotted a well used game trail leading at a diagonal across the east face, crossing the several ravines in the area.  I decided to risk this (hopefully) easier path.  Faint in places, the game trail worked a nice sloping line to the gullies.  Smooth transitions from gullies to ridges, I was making good off the hillside.  I soon arrived at the high saddle, the saddle I had hopped to cross on my ascent.  I'm not sure if I would recommend using the game trail as an ascent route, partly because you miss the limestone arch by following it, but it was handy for the descent.  Staying with the ridge, I picked my way through the various cliff bands without trouble and arrived at my car in good order.  Beautiful, but strenuous scramble.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Bushwhack, Scramble
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Steven Thompson
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