Trip Report: 12,048′ Tuck No – La Sal Mountains, UT

Martin Kuprianowicz | | Trip ReportTrip Report


12,048′ Tuck No: Mount Tukuhnikivatz’s “little sister” in the La Sal Mountains of Southern Utah. | Photo: SnowBrains

Report from Tuesday, May 16, 2023

12,400′ Mount Tukuhnikivatz, A Fifty Classic Ski Descent, has a little sister right next door that ain’t so little.

Her name is Tuck No and she’s arguably just as good—if not better—than the classic around the corner.

Steep, jagged, and avalanche-prone, she’s not a mountain to be messed with at any time of the year other than spring when the snowpack is bomber.

Her east face is a sustained 50º slope for roughly 1,500′ or more that terminates in a series of tight chokes between cliffs.

The views around her of red rock desert below are purely out of this world.

Yesterday, we bagged the east face on our annual spring ski touring mission to the La Sals.

12,048′ Tuck No Details

  • Summit: 12,048′
  • Car: 9,600′
  • Vertical From Car: 4,000′
  • Vertical skied: 2,500′
  • Max Pitch: 50º
  • Avg Pitch: 50º
  • Aspect: East
  • Distance: 9.4-miles round trip 
  • Time From Car to Top of Carson Peak: 4 hours 
  • Car to Car Time: 7 hours
  • Recommended Equipment: Skins, crampons, ice ax 
  • Best Season: Spring
  • Map: USGS Mount Tukuhnikivatz

The stars above the campsite the night before were superb. 

There’s something about looking up at a starry night sky in the desert that ingnites a fire of wonder inside your heart. 

I think that humans have evolved to be the beautiful, sophisticated beings we are because of that very feeling.

Our ancestors had a lot of time to look up at that untainted sky and contemplate their place in the universe, which is undoubtedly very small. 

Good morning, La Sals. | Photo: SnowBrains

At 5 am we rolled out of our sleeping bags and by 7 we were touring from the Geyser Pass Trailhead near Moab, Utah.

The mountains were teeming with life. 

Grouse, hummingbirds, and coyote prints on the skin track. 

The snowline was still fat, and we toured straight from the parking area. 

With strong sunshine blasting us in the face, we mechanically skinned up through a wildfire-scortched forest on hard, frozen snow. 

La Sals. | Photo: SnowBrains

I’ve toured in the La Sals once a year for four years now, and this is the most snow I’ve ever seen here. 

Up in Gold’s Basin where the proper uphill to Tuk starts, there’s still parts of the snowpack that are 10 feet deep or more. 

When we made it to Tuk Cirque, the snow was starting to relent and slowly soften into corn. 

We had our eyes set on “Tuklear Reaction,” a 2,000+ corn run on the south face of Tukuhnikivatz.

Tuk Summit + Tuk Cirque. | Photo: SnowBrains

After four hours of easy skinning and a little bit of bootpacking near the top, we were at the summit of Tuk. 

Red desert scenery loomed below juxtaposed with sapphire blue skies above and redish-brown snow at our feet.

From the summit, Tuklear Reaction was but a thin ribbon of rocky snow amongst scree fields.

“Not worth it,” we decided, and proceeded toward an alternate descent option, the east face of Tuk No, running into a pair of rad humans, Nick and Zach, on our way over there. 

Tuk No. | Photo: SnowBrains

Tuk No is a brutal and beautiful, pointy peak to the west of Tuk proper. 

It’s east face is a sustained 50º steepness, with consequential cliffs below. 

If you plan your line right, you can flow from the top of the east face through a series of tight chokes between the rocks that lead into the flatlands in Red Snow Cirque, the headwall connecting Tuk proper with Tuk No. 

Devin on the summit of Tuk. | Photo: SnowBrains

We skied down an exciting ribbon of snow that connected the two peaks and then made the short walk on loose rocks to Tuk No’s summit.  

From there we double and triple checked the photos of the chokes we took from the top of Tuk and set down the behemoth of a ski run. 

I went first.

Devin on Planet Corn. | Photo: SnowBrains

The snow was thick, wet, slushy goop. 

Slurpee snow.

It wasn’t too sticky and was still a little corny but it was certainly heavy enough to make you want to double-check every turn. 

A rolling fall here would ruin your day. 

Fun ribbon connecting the two peaks. | Photo: SnowBrains

I skied the run fairly conservatitely once I felt how heavy the snow was, taking it nice and easy to the choke.

Once at the choke, I made one turn in its belly and then pointed through the rest of it at full-speed. 

Coming out the otherside at speed felt like a rebirth. 

Tuk’s northwest face. | Photo: SnowBrains

Once at the flats below and out of harm’s way, I radioed to my partner Devin and gave him the scoop on the snow quality. 

He proceed to surf down the face on his splitboard with grace and ease, making it look way easier than I had. 

When he got down to where I was, it was past noon and the snow surface was hot. 

Small humans in tall mountains. | Photo: SnowBrains

Because we were sweating and the snow quality was only detiorating, we decided to call it a day there and head back to the trailhead. 

But we took our sweet time going home, stopping for breaks to admire these gorgeous, devlish mountains, savoring the raw sense of isolation and pristine beauty of the land. 

The La Sals never disappoint and the skiing there still ought to be good for a few weeks to come. 

We made it back to the car by mid day and enjoyed some Mexican beers with Zach and Nick who had skied Tuk proper.

After expressing the collective stoke amongst us all, Devin and I rode off into the sunset, the Desert covered in a brilliant blaze of erupting wildflowers as far as the eye could see…

Wildflowers. | Photo: SnowBrains



Our first glimpses of the day of Tuk No and Tuk proper.  | Photo: SnowBrains
Springtime. | Photo: SnowBrains
Sun, snow, and earth. | Photo: SnowBrains
Tuk No in the distance. | Photo: SnowBrains
Fun looking chutes in Tuk Cirque. | Photo: SnowBrains
Devin on the up and up. | Photo: SnowBrains
Summit push. | Photo: SnowBrains
Tuk No and red rocks. | Photo: SnowBrains
Summit of Tuk proper. | Photo: SnowBrains
Scree field on the way up to Tuk No. | Photo: SnowBrains
Tuk proper. | Photo: SnowBrains
Red Snow Cirque. | Photo: SnowBrains
Devin charging home through the corn. | Photo: SnowBrains
Break time. | Photo: SnowBrains
Alien. | Photo: SnowBrains
Burnt forest. | Photo: SnowBrains
Apres. | Photo: SnowBrains
Back to SLC. | Photo: SnowBrains
Wildflower. | Photo: SnowBrains
Cactus. | Photo: SnowBrains
Tacos La Pasadita in Green River is a MUST STOP for Mexican food on the way back to Salt Lake City from Moab. | Photo: SnowBrains

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