Peak 8140 (Rattlesnake North) by Livingston Douglas

Elevation: 8,140 ft
Prominence: 320

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This peak is not in the book. Published November 2018

Peak 8140 is one of two unnamed peaks that straddle Rattlesnake Canyon. It separates Rattlesnake Canyon from Jones Canyon. Peak 8140 is located on the north side of the canyon and is directly across from Peak 8098, which sits on the south side of the canyon. It is a seldom-visited summit and has no signs of previous ascent. I saw no rattlesnakes on either summit or in Rattlesnake Canyon. USGS Fossil Canyon

South Face, Class 3


Same as for the west ridge of Peak 8098

The Climb

This route begins at the base of the south face of Peak 8140 in a clearing along Rattlesnake Canyon Road/FSR-097. This point is located about 0.6 miles west of the junction of FSR-097 and FST-1336 (at the lower of its two junctions with FSR-097). The elevation at the base of the south face at this point on FSR-097 is about 7,200 feet.

The south face of Peak 8140 is VERY STEEP. You must ascend it in an area of open terrain. The USGS topo map shows two fingers of open terrain on the south face. Of those two fingers, the eastern one extends all the way down to Rattlesnake Canyon Road. This is the point from which you need to launch your assault on this magnificently-open, but very steep, face. If you are descending Rattlesnake Canyon Road to reach this point (as I was), the open slope is quite visible. If you are ascending Rattlesnake Canyon Road to reach this point, use a GPS or altimeter and watch for the open slope as you approach 7,200 feet in elevation. You can’t miss it.

Leave the road and bushwhack through a short strip of aspens and blowdown at roadside to begin the climb up the open terrain of short desert scrub with a gravel base. There is some scattered mountain mahogany to skirt on your ascent up this magnificent face. If you enjoy steep terrain and a good aerobic workout, you will LOVE the south face of Peak 8140. As you climb, move left/west to reach the crest of a rounded shoulder in order to avoid endless side-hilling on the steep terrain on the right/east side of the shoulder. This shoulder has scattered mountain mahogany on it, but it is easy to skirt those nightmarish trees here.

The shoulder is almost dead north-to-south and shows up on the USGS topo map on the left edge of the eastern open slope on the south face. It reaches the summit ridge about 1/8 mile east of the true summit area. Please note that Point 8053 is NOT the summit and is about 90 vertical feet lower than the true summit. The slope eases considerably when you reach 8,050 feet. Go left/west here then northwest/right-ish, staying on the open terrain of the south side of the forested summit area. The elongated north-to-south summit area is thickly forested with both pines and aspens and includes thick veg and willows to boot.

When you reach the top of the west ridge, you are standing on the left/west edge of the forest. The high point is just inside the forest in the middle of three massive pine trees here. You can stand among these three behemoths on a nice bed of pine needles. There were no signs of previous ascent. Just to be sure that I had found the high point/true summit, I laboriously bushwhacked N through the thick forest of the elongated summit plateau to find a higher point, but there was nothing higher. The summit of Peak 8140 offers stunning views of Rattlesnake Canyon and the LONG west ridge of this peak.

West Ridge/South Spur, Class 2


Same as for the south face. If ascending this route, start from the base of Rattlesnake Canyon Road/FSR-097 and climb the south spur up onto the west ridge. There is no need to go up into the canyon.

The Descent

This route is a descent of the FULL west ridge and its south spur, all the way from the summit down to the valley floor at the mouth of Rattlesnake Canyon. It is a solid 2+ miles in length and is somewhat tedious due to some ridge undulations and some narrow, rocky ridge outcrops that must be either circumvented or down-climbed. You must climb over three ridge points (Point 8053, Point 7438, and Point 7408). The rocky outcrops are jagged, sharp, black rock.

From the summit of Peak 8140, descend the open ridge on easy desert scrub, using a game trail (that comes and goes) on or just left/south of the ridge crest. Stay on the open, left/south side of the ridge and you will have no forested areas to contend with. You will have some mountain mahogany trees on the ridge crest farther down, but they can easily be skirted. There are some sections of thicker scrub to work through, but nothing prolonged.

When you reach Point 7438, turn left/southwest to reach Point 7408, which can be skirted on its right/west side. At Point 7408, you reach the top of the south spur. Descend south-southwest on steep, easy field grass (initially) then on a mix of desert scrub and minor rocky outcrops/cliff bands. When you reach the valley floor, angle left/east to reach Rattlesnake Canyon Road via a field of desert scrub. Walk southward down the road to return to the parking area at the base of the road near its junction with Big Canyon Road.

I discovered an alternate way to climb the west ridge as I descended it. At the saddle east of Point 7438, there is a magnificent open scree slope that leads down to Rattlesnake Canyon Road to the south. It does not appear to be overly steep or loose. If you wish to shorten the ascent (or descent) of the west ridge, you can try this route. I believe it to be the easiest ascent route to the summit of Peak 8140 from Rattlesnake Canyon Road.

Additional Resources

Mountain Range: Peale Mountains

First Ascent Information:

  • Other First Ascent: South Face
  • Year: 2018
  • Season: Summer
  • Party: Livingston Douglas
  • Other First Ascent: West Ridge/South Spur -Descent
  • Year: 2018
  • Season: Summer
  • Party: Livingston Douglas

Longitude: -111.37629   Latitude: 42.56629

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