Why my husband and I chose South Peak in the Abajos (11,118 ft) for our first ever snowshoeing trip, I really couldn’t tell you. It was the first winter we lived here, and now that a couple years have passed and the memory of how sore I was afterward has worn off, I almost want to climb it again…almost. Okay, maybe I’m being a little dramatic. But it WAS a major climb, even for my husband and I who hike quite a bit.
My husband’s coworker invited us to climb South Peak with him and a couple of his friends, and although we didn’t know it at the time, this guy is FAST! If you’ve been following this blog you might remember him from the Mt. Peale Hike – La Sal Mountains entry- he was the guy in the lead with the keys when I was trying to decide if I should keep climbing or go back to the car. 🙂
Anyway, we had been warned by a couple different people about how fast this guy is, so I told my husband to make sure that he knew that we were first timers and was okay with that. I was there when my husband told him and I remember him just waving his hand at us and saying, ‘Oh, that’s not a problem- you’ll be fine’. Hmmm… really? Somehow I wasn’t convinced…
We all met up in the parking area that’s about 3-4 miles up the Hart’s Draw Rd (Co. Rd 101/ Forest Rd 105) and started from there. The parking area is between Dalton Springs and Buckboard campgrounds. If you come in the winter, the road is only plowed to the parking area, so you can’t miss it. A lot of people park there and then take their snowmachines up from there. There was some talk about whether or not we should try to drive to the old ski area and park there, but I think my husband’s coworker was driving his car that day, and didn’t want to take the chance of getting stuck, so we just started at the parking area to be safe.
The first mile or so to the old ski area is fairly flat, but it gets really steep from there. I think the parking area is at about 8,200 ft and the top of South Peak is at about 11,118 ft and most of the elevation gain is in the last 2/3 of the climb.
It’s an absolutely beautiful climb- I really couldn’t pick which was my favorite part- snowshoeing through the aspens or the views out over the four corners- it was all amazing.
Well, just as we’d been warned, my husband’s coworker was fast! He would stop every so often and let everyone else catch up with him, then almost as soon as we caught up, he’d take off and we wouldn’t see him until he stopped to wait for us again. As far as I know we weren’t following any actual trail, but luckily since it was in the snow, it was very easy to follow his tracks, so there was no chance of getting lost or anything like that.
No matter how sore or tired we were, I think we forgot about all of that when we got to the top and saw the view out over the four corners. There were some clouds that day, but the air was really clear and you could see forever! The La Sals, the Sleeping Ute, Shiprock, Lone Dome… the view from the top was absolutely amazing!
The trip back down was much easier than the climb up had been. (of course!) It was a great first (and so far, only!) climb up South Peak! We had only lived here a few months at the time, and I think it was a great way to get acquainted with the area. The views from the top were nothing short of breathtaking, and the feeling of knowing how hard you had worked to get there made it even better!
Directions: From Main St. (Hwy 191) in Monticello, turn west on W 200 S right next to the Welcome Center. (This road becomes Co. Rd 101/Forest Rd 105) Follow road about 4 miles to the parking area on the right hand side of road. *Please look at the map below for directions.
Distance to lodging in San Juan County, Utah:
- Monticello: 4 miles/ 6.5 km
- Blanding: 27 miles/43.5 km
- La Sal: 45 miles/72.5 km
- Bluff: 60 miles/96.5 km
- Mexican Hat: 80 miles/129 km
- Monument Valley: 103 miles/166 km