Ascent of South Fork Peak on 2014-06-26

Climber: Richard Oestreicher

Others in Party:Gary
Date:Thursday, June 26, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:South Fork Peak
    Location:USA-New Mexico
    Elevation:11978 ft / 3650 m

Ascent Trip Report

Whew!! Quite a climb for a geezer!

The El Salto trail starts on private land. You stop at a house with a sign on El Salto Rd. about a mile before the parking area and pay $4 per person. Thirteen members of my hiking club did so, and we met two more at the trailhead. The trail starts out very gradually but gets steeper and rockier as it goes. Numerous stream crossings slow progress a bit. Mostly it is well marked with cairns. We hit a small meadow around 10,500. From there the trail up to the ridge line is pretty steep, the steepest part of the trip. Eight of our group made it up to the ridge line at just over 11,300 where we enjoyed a lunch and great view. I headed up nearby South Fork Peak with Gary as the others headed down. We went around an old corral on the ridge and followed the trail a few hundred yards around to the west flank of the peak which looked less steep than a straight ahead assault, and then started bushwhacking at around 11,400. The route up was steep but surprisingly unobstructed by scrub brush, dead fall, or trees compared to other bushwhacks I've done in the area. We cut the grade by crisscrossing, in effect making our own switchbacks. The top is just a smidgin below tree line. Some small trees partially blocked the valley view of Taos to the west (although there were good views in that direction on the way up) but othewise the views are quite startling, especially of the loop from Kachina Peak past Lake Fork and Vallecitos and the Valley below.

Time up includes a substantial lunch break.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3921 ft / 1195 m
    Total Elevation Loss:43 ft / 13 m
    Round-Trip Distance:11.2 mi / 18 km
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Bushwhack, Stream Ford
    Weather:Pleasant, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3898 ft / 1188 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 3878 ft / 1182 m; Extra: 20 ft / 6m
    Loss on way in:20 ft / 6 m
    Distance:5.7 mi / 9.2 km
    Route:El Salto Trail and bushwhack
    Start Trailhead:El Salto parking  8100 ft / 2468 m
    Time:4 Hours 15 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:23 ft / 7 m
    Gain on way out:23 ft / 7 m
    Distance:5.5 mi / 8.9 km
    Time:2 Hours 30 Minutes

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