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Ascent of Red Butte on 2020-10-17

Climber: Evan Battaglia

Date:Saturday, October 17, 2020
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Red Butte
    Location:USA-Utah
    Elevation:7050 ft / 2148 m

Ascent Trip Report

This one is a true exercise in routefinding, and also dealing with various desert peak obstacles. I underestimated it a bit and ran out of time.

After North Guardian and West Northgate, I still had a couple hours to kill. The night before, I happened to camp in the shadow of Red Butte, and was impressed with it when I first saw it in the morning. Looking at the map it seemed like it would only be 1,000 ft gain and about a mile of distance, so I figured I'd give it a try before camping. After all, the trailhead was basically where I camped the night before and where I could camp this night.

So first off, DO NOT follow Steven Thompson's track. It is bad bushwhacking combined with some steep tight spots that I even had problems to pulling myself up. I got some scratches including one on my heel that bled even though I was wearing long pants. All that wasted some time.

At the spot where things start to get steep, there was a sling attached to a tree, apparently meant just as a handhold. Immediately after that there is one other tricky part (a very short but awkward sandstone slab), followed by a steep, rather dirty slope that sort of doesn't seem like it's the right way. But both tracks on Peakbagger seem to indicate it is.

Soon after this I took a wrong turn and ended up climbing up some steep stairstep sandstone that put me on a mini-ridge / elongated pinnacle that was a dead end. Apparently I should have gone around the pinnacle/ridge to the left, although on my way back I took a peak and getting around it didn't seem easy either. Descending from the pinnacle/ridge was definitely the scariest part of day (all three peaks this day). Not only was it steep but there were also broken blocks of sandstone here and there, and in a couple places some sand covering the stone. Ar this point, I was well over the time I wanted to turn around, and I was worried about descending the approach route, so although I was probably about 700 horizontal feet and 350 vertical feet from the summit, I decided to call it.

The first part getting down I almost wasn't sure which way I had come. Pay attention when you go up!

On the way down I followed Tom Gathright's track. He writes about the bushwhacking in his report, and there certainly is some, but on his route it is thankfully nowhere near as bad as the route I had gone up. There is only one slightly tricky steep part on his route, that actually is not too bad once you find the right way, which is not immediately obvious on the way down. The routefinding along this route is sort of interesting as there are a couple parts where it does not seem like the route will go but it does.

This was an interesting challenge that does not require a lot of time to get to the interesting parts. Although the bushwhacking and dirty (loose, sandy, duff) climbing (which sometimes makes it a little sketchy) is kind of a drag, I may step up to the challenge and attempt it again.
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