Mount Peale, Talking Mountain And Mount Tukuhnikivatz
Kelly Bou dragged me out of our tent at Hatch Point campground near Moab, Utah in the wee hours of the morning on 5 October 2010 so that I could drive her to nearby Anticline Overlook to take photos of the sunrise.  While the sunrise itself turned out to be somewhat disappointing, my attention was nevertheless drawn to the high peaks to the east behind which the sun was rising.  The La Sal Mountains are the second highest range in Utah and stand in stark contrast to the surrounding landscape of "slickrock" formations and canyons.  Despite their commanding height, none of the peaks are technically difficult to climb, and this includes Mount Peale, the highest peak in the range.  With this in mind and since the day was still young, I hurried back to camp with Kelly, and we quickly packed up everything before driving to La Sal Pass, the usual starting point for ascending Mount Peale.  The long and winding dirt access road was in very good shape (there is one creek crossing where a high-clearance vehicle is recommended), and there was also a fair amount of traffic at the pass including cars, ATV's, cowboys and cattle.  A bitterly cold wind pummeled us as we arrived at La Sal Pass, and with the prospect of encountering more of the same if not worse high up on Mount Peale, Kelly decided to spare herself some unnecessary punishment by curling up with a book in the car.

Not to be denied, I put on some warm layers and began following the beaten path behind the sign at the pass.  The route follows the path over a small rise before joining briefly with a 4WD road heading up the obvious coulee between Mount Peale and its eye-catching neighbour to the west, Mount Tukuhnikivatz.  At a cairned junction, the route leaves the road and climbs up the main gully west of Mount Peale.  The proper route follows the gully all the way to the ridge crest before turning eastward toward the summit.  I made the mistake of leaving the gully prematurely only to retreat after floundering in ankle-breaking rubble.  Upon gaining the ridge crest, I encountered no further difficulties on my way to the summit.  While it was still severely windy at the top, the cloud ceiling had lifted a little allowing some views of the surrounding peaks.  The long and undulating connecting ridge to Mount Tukuhnikivatz looked enticingly easy to hike, and the opportunity to tag a second peak was too good for me to pass up.

I quickly retraced my steps down the summit ridge of Mount Peale before running into a gentleman from Colorado who was going in the opposite direction after having first climbed Mount Tukuhnikivatz.  We had a nice chat before going our separate ways.  Further along the connecting ridge, I stopped at the top of a nondescript hump to take a few photographs.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, this hump actually has a name and is unofficially known as Talking Mountain.  Immediately west of Talking Mountain's summit is a short string of rugged pinnacles called the Razor Fang.  While the fellow from Colorado sounded like he was emotionally scarred after surviving an epic traverse of the Razor Fang, I found the moderate scrambling (avoidable if so desired) here to be a pleasant diversion from the rest of the somewhat boring plod between Mount Peale and Mount Tukuhnikivatz.  Because of the rounded contours on Mount Tukuhnikivatz's summit block, the hike up the last 150 metres or so seemed like it would never end.

Completing the loop back to La Sal Pass, I backtracked a little to a southeast-trending grassy ridge and followed it down into the same coulee mentioned earlier.  This is also the usual ascent route for Mount Tukuhnikivatz, but given the steepness of the slope, I was glad I did not begin my hike at this end.  Toward the bottom of the grassy ridge, I picked up a good trail and followed it easily out to La Sal Pass as the weather began to deteriorate.  Kelly was feeling cold after spending all afternoon in the car waiting for me; thus, I quickly warmed up the car and drove us back out to the highway.  With a steady rain falling, we eventually checked into a motel in the nearby town of Monticello and wrapped up the day with a forgettable dinner.
"Tukuhnikivatz" is supposedly Ute for "land where the sun shines longest" or some variation of that. The sun rises behind the La Sal Mountains as seen from Anticline Overlook.  The dip at centre is La Sal Pass.  Mount Tukuhnikivatz is just left of the pass.
Photo courtesy of Kelly Bou
Brrrr...feels like I'm back in Canada with that wind! As seen from La Sal Pass, clouds obscure the summit of Mount Peale.
Unless you like treadmill scree, don't bother with any short cuts. Here is a clearer look at the ascent route on Mount Peale.
I came down the slope at far left on my descent. This is looking up the coulee from the 4WD road.  The Razor Fang is visible at centre with Talking Mountain partly hidden behind the trees.
This was the guy from Colorado I would later meet, and the ridge is also the one I would use for my descent. A lone hiker walks along the ridge toward Mount Tukuhnikivatz.
Trust me. Stay in the gully! The ascent gully is steep and narrow.
Hey, maybe it's clearing up... The summit of Mount Peale comes into view.
Once you bundle up, the wind doesn't feel that bad! Sonny pushes up the final slope to the summit.
Even the Kane Trooper didn't want to come out to brave the wind! Sonny stands on the windy 3873-metre summit of Mount Peale.  Behind him is Mount Mellenthin.
Mount Tuk is just begging to be climbed! Mount Tukuhnikivatz sits to the west.  To its right is Little Tuk (unofficial), and in shadow at far right is Talking Mountain.
South Mountain is one of the few peaks in the range that ISN'T a 12,000-footer. The peak to the southwest is appropriately called South Mountain as it is at the south end of the La Sal Range.  La Sal Pass is also visible at right.
Lots of interesting places to explore down there. Some of the "slickrock" formations near Moab are visible to the northwest.
If you look closely at lower far left, you can spot the trail I took on the way out. Here is another look at Mount Tukuhnikivatz from near the top of Mount Peale's ascent gully.
Can you spot the guy from Colorado? Talking Mountain (3728 metres) is the high point of the connecting ridge between Mount Peale and Mount Tukuhnikivatz.
I wonder if they still allow cars on top of Castleton Tower... Some of the interesting rock formations near the village of Castle Valley are visible to the northwest from Talking Mountain.  At centre is Parriott Mesa, and on the right are Castle Rock (also known as Castleton Tower) and Priest and Nuns.
It took me about 40 minutes to get here from Mount Peale's summit. This is the view of Mount Peale from the summit of Talking Mountain.
It will take me 80 minutes to reach Mount Tuk's summit from here. This is the view of Mount Tukuhnikivatz from the summit of Talking Mountain.
Doesn't look that intimidating from here! This is looking back up at the Razor Fang from below.
I cut across the slope here to save some needless elevation gain. Sonny continues along the connecting ridge to Mount Tukuhnikivatz.
It takes longer than you think to climb up this final slope. The east ridge of Mount Tukuhnikivatz looks deceptively short.
Note the ridge at far right in the foreground. That's my exit route. From partway up the east ridge of Mount Tukuhnikivatz, this is looking back along the connecting ridge all the way to Mount Peale.  The dark bump just left of centre is Talking Mountain.
It's odd that the OTHER summit always looks higher! This is looking west from the true summit (3799 metres) of Mount Tukuhnikivatz.  The cairned summit in the distance is only slightly lower.
Just a little over 2 hours ago, I was way over there! Sonny kneels at the cairned summit (3798 metres) on Mount Tukuhnikivatz.  Mount Peale can be seen in the distance.
Nice fall colours down there. La Sal Pass is visible to the southeast.
It's a shame that I didn't have more time to bag this 12,049-foot peak as well. To the northwest is Little Tuk.
I wonder if there are some people out there who have climbed all the named summits of the La Sal Range in one go... The rest of the La Sal Range stretch away to the northeast.  All names are official.
I'm only 50 minutes away from my car here. Here is one last look at Talking Mountain (far left) and Mount Peale from the southeast-trending grassy ridge.
I guess Google Earth only had a winter satellite photo of Mount Peale! This is the route as viewed in Google Earth.
I highly recommend doing the loop counter-clockwise. Total Distance:  11.3 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  6 hours 51 minutes
Total Elevation Gain:  1284 metres

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