Peak(s):  Sayres BM  -  13,738 feet
PT 13,460  -  13,460 feet
PT 13,300 F  -  13,300 feet
Date Posted:  08/06/2020
Date Climbed:   08/04/2020
Author:  Trotter
 Pick your poison: Sayres BM, UN 13460, 13300  

Class 1-2+

11.3 miles

4600' gain


Looking for a easy midweek adventure, I settled on Sayres Benchmark. As always, I read previous trip reports to find a route that looked good. The most helpful ones for me were supranihilests, Hoots, and Wildwanderers, If nothing else, for things not to do. It seems like everybody previously had hit the peaks from different routes, and I was hoping to combine the best of them. Hoping is the operative word.

As always though, I looked for ways to simplify and make the route as easy as possible. Also, since I like loops so much, I tried to incorporate a loop route. However, I discovered that these three peaks don't have a slam dunk loop, and that the mess of roads can really mess with you.

So I tried to combine Hoots road shortcut to Sayres BM, Wildwanderers route route between Sayres and UN 13460, and avoid supranihilests bushwhacking deadfall hell descent.

Starting with the drive in, drive to the La Plata TH off indy pass, then take FR 391 about 2.5 miles to where it splits with FR 382 and FR 392. The trailhead is unmarked and kind of tucked away, but look for a well built footbridge over the South fork lake creek. Along with several lean tos, huts, and teepees made of avalanche debris logs. Somebody really spent some time working on them.

There is tons of flat camping spots along the road, and near the trailhead. Note the road is 4WD, but I think it was fairly tame, but some clearance is needed. Mostly over dried up mud holes.


20502_09
UN 13300 on left, UN 13460 in center, from the trailhead. Pot of gold somewhere behind it.


Also note, I wouldn't get water from this creek. Even on the section below the worst of the acid mine drainage, the water had a white blue tinge, and had bleached the rocks. Not water you'd want to drink.


20502_07
Creek at trailhead.


So starting out just before sunrise, I crossed the bridge and headed up the road.


20502_08
Footbridge


Immediately, there is tons of social trails that go to the creek and various campsites. Also, an unmarked road that splits off to the right. I continued on what I thought was FR 382, and I was correct. However, then I missed the turnoff for FR 392 in the predawn gloom, as I understand many have. The sign is tiny, and the road hasn't been used in so long that there is no real path to it. Its just a gate stuck in the woods. So I continued upwards on FR 382 for about half a mile before I figured it out. Rather then retrace my steps, I dropped down into the creek drainage, rockhopped the creek, reclimbed about 100 feet, and then rejoined FR 392.


20502_06
Here is what I missed. Turn left here, even though theres not really a trail.


20502_05
The gate at the beginning of FR 392, taken on way back down.


The FR 392 road switchbacks up through the forest on a very steady angle slope. Its actually quite pleasant. But there are several unmarked social/game trails, and what appears to be old roads that lead off of it. In addition, people have made quite a few cairns on some of these side routes. I'm not sure what they were supposed to indicate. In any case, I followed whatever looked the most traveled, and it worked well.


20502_03
Two roads diverged in the woods, and I, I took the road more traveled. And that has made all the difference.

The road is frequently overgrown, but its not hard to stay on route.


20502_01
Still a road apparently.

Once the road begins breaking treeline, you get your first views of UN 13460's west side. This is the slope I was hoping to traverse, then come down.


20502_13
My route down, UN 13460 south/west flank


20502_11
Such amazing color


20502_12
Old cabin at treeline. I wouldn't camp in it. Looked very rodenty inside.

The road system became confusing again, with unmarked roads splitting off and heading various directions. I stayed on the main road, that would eventually go to unnamed, unranked pt 13430. (NOT UN 13460)


20502_14
Road split, stay right


20502_15
Pretty views on way up


Originally, I was planning on following Hoots return route from Sayres, minimizing regain to pt 13460. But whatever game trail he took is much too hard to differentiate from other game trails, so I stayed on the main road until I hit another unmarked road that heads southeast-ish. Here is where I split off, at about 12,600 elevation.

20502_16
Went right here.

The downside to taking this road is that you have to lose about 200 feet as it heads southeast, BUT it means you don't have to go all the way to the ridge on the main road.


20502_17
Followed the upper, left, road towards Sayres BM.


Sayres BM finally get in sight as you head along the road, slowly losing elevation. You pass around a corner, and get to see the saddle between pt 13430 and Sayres BM.

So here I took the red route, so I wouldn't lose another 50 feet of elevation on the road. I would recommend the blue route, as my route wasn't as grassy and stable as I had hoped.


20502_18
Red ok, but rocky sidehilling. Blue looked easier


20502_19
Went up grass on left.


20502_20
Fairly rocky sidehilling.


20502_21
Blue route would have topped me out here also.


20502_22
A look back at the road.

From the saddle, its fairly easy hiking up to the false summit, then the real summit. Although the last 50 feet to the real summit is loose.

20502_23
Looking back from Sayres false summit.


20502_24
Looking ahead to Sayres summit


20502_25
Classic government quality work.

From the summit, I surveyed the weather and the surprising amount of cloudiness. Using several weather models, I thought it would be clear until 3 pm. But at the summit I got some mist and some very brief snow. However, within an hour it cleared up and it got warm.

So I headed down Sayres towards pt 13430. The colors of the rocks were amazing. I thought it looked like if someone dumped paint all over Mt Bross. Theres even roads that crisscross the summit like Bross.

20502_26
Heading towards pt 13430 from Sayres saddle


20502_27
Pt 13430, UN 13460, and UN 13300 on ridge


20502_28
Amazing colors.

From pt 13430, I headed along the ridge to UN 13460.


20502_29
UN 13460 and UN 13300

Despite looking rough, the ridge goes at difficult class 2 at most.


20502_30
The crux of the ridge, go left side.


20502_31
Very old register.

The summit has a register from 2004, but its mostly shredded at this point. I'd say about a dozen people a year climb it.

From the summit, I headed over to UN 13300, keeping a close eye on my planned descent route to the west.


20502_32
Ridge towards UN 13300


20502_33
A look back at ridge, UN 13460, and Sayres BM


20502_34
False summit of 13300.

The ridge is very class 1, with some class 2 or optional class 3 at the summit. I thought the summit looked like the Lost creek wilderness rock.


20502_36
Marmot jaw?

From UN 13300, I scoped out my decent options. Either down from the low point in the saddle, to what looked like a dirt/grass mixture, or reclimb about 200 feet to above a notch, and then descend down a grassier looking ramp. I went with the first option.

Of course, I could have reclimbed UN 13460, pt 13430, then descended back down the road. But wheres the fun in that? Plus, it would have meant an additional 500 feet of regain.

It started grassy, then went trashy. There were a few cliffs that were easily bypassed, but plenty of loose scree. I had to stop a couple times to dump scree out of my shoes. The good news is, its only about 300 feet of really bad stuff. At the bottom is a small talus field, and then its nice smooth grass.

20502_37
I took red. Blue looked easier.


20502_38
Started grassy


20502_40
Went a little loose


20502_39
Went loose and cliffy


20502_42
Finally, easy grass


20502_41
A look back at what the blue option would have been. Looks nicer.


20502_43
My route back to road.

After traversing around the west ridge of UN 13460, I was able to scope out my descent route back to the road. It actually went pretty well. While steep in some places, the grass was continuous, and there were large game trails through any willows or trees. Very minimal deadfall, and so I didn't have to repeat supranihilists bushwhacking from his descent. I did have to cross a creek, and then regain about 50 feet of elevation to catch the road. I caught the road at about 11,500.


20502_44
Route back to road


20502_45
Crossed this creek before regaining road


20502_04
Final creek crossing near gate at bottom.

So then I followed the road down, and near the bottom, crossed the creek thats behind the FR 392 gate. Its pretty heavily contaminated with acid mine water, so if you go early in the year when its deeper and you have to ford it, I'd wash my legs off with clean water afterwords.


20502_46
My route

Hope this helps someone in the future.




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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 Comments or Questions
9patrickmurphy

Would have helped me
08/06/2020 16:28
I did this one on Monday, if you were there you would have been able to let me know that I hadn't actually sumitted 13,460! Didn't do my reasearch well enough, now I'll have to enjoy that road again sometime in the future... Some cool mountains for sure, but chossy enough to not be all that excited to return to. Great report, very cohesive information on this approach in summertime.

I will add, for those wondering, that unmarked road that veers right after you cross the footbridge is actually the Sayres Gulch road. Right before the TH, there's a 3-way fork: leftmost is the TH, rightmost leads to McNasser and Peakboo gulches, and middle continues to a creek crossing that fords the S Fork, then continues up Sayres Gulch to the wilderness boundary. Not useful if you're hiking the abandoned road, but mabe useful if you're searching for a remote car camping spot.


stephakett

saving this one
08/07/2020 10:13
i've been trying to figure out how to grab sayres and this looks like a great day!


TakeMeToYourSummit

The 382 Road
08/07/2020 10:39
If you did want to use that road to get up some peaks; Eskermo & I went up that road to the boundary last fall to get 13,232, 13,295, & Lake Fork Peak. At that time of year the creek crossing was fairly low & is immediately followed by the steepest, roughest section of road. After that there are a few sections that would require high clearance & possibly 4WD depending on how muddy the road was. The route we took followed some game trails up into the basin NW of 232. We gained the ridge via a loose gully (views directly east into Alan Lake upon topping out). The ridge had some fun slab scrambles to 232 & our route was similar to most that bail off the ridge to the south between the numbered peaks. After LFP we dropped SE into that basin & met back up with the 1465 trail back to my truck. In any case... nice work & TR Trotter! We will have to get out hiking again soon!


Trotter


ah
08/07/2020 22:03
I think yall are right, that unmarked road fords the creek, then can put you onto FR 382. The unmarked roads back there drove me crazy. I also noticed some fresh looking ATV tracks up high on FR 392. Either the forest service guys unlocked the gate to use them, or theres another unmarked road that gets around the gate.


Jay521

Screens...
08/08/2020 14:28
I remember looking at that cabin and being amazed the windows had screens. Maybe that qualifies as glamping in the early 1900's? Nice report, Trotter!



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