Ascent of Kings Peak on 2012-08-22

Climber: Brian Friedrich

Others in Party:Laura Friedrich
Date:Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Kings Peak
    Elevation:13528 ft / 4123 m

Ascent Trip Report

We set off from Henrys at around 7AM and followed the excellent trail to reach Dollar Lake by about 10AM. Here we left our overnight gear, wrapped in plastic because of the uncertain weather. We'd have simply established camp were it not for still be undecided about whether we would overnight or do this one in a day.

We took off for the summit along the, again, excellent trail to Gunsight Pass - shortcutting the "pack trail"s long switchback below the pass by going up through the boulder field. From the pass we took the sidehill shortcut through the steep and somewhat loose boulder/scree field to gain the plateau below the peak (recommended as it's not particularly nasty and saves the elevation loss/regain by dropping into the basin far to the NE of Kings). The N ridge (standard) route is a very straightforward - though in my opinion unaesthetic, line following some trail and some loose boulder hopping to the summit.

Once on top (by 1PM), I dropped my pack and scrambled across to South Kings Peak - easy and unexposed class 2. Oddly, although we weren't able to spot a USGS marker on the main summit of Kings, I did find a US Dept of Agri Forest Service one on the south summit actually stamped "KING 1961". Maybe someone just stole the one off the main summit as there is a small concrete patch on one of the boulders ... or we were just weren't looking hard enough.

For the descent, we opted to drop down from Anderson Pass through a very steep and loose chute back to Henrys Fork basin, and then generally followed animal trails back to the main trail (rejoined at about 11000ft) and on to Dollar Lake. We found this to be a significant time savings as opposed to returning via Gunsight Pass. It would not be recommended as an ascent route as it's simply too steep and loose to make efficient upward progress. If you're surefooted and like glissading on sand, scree, and boulders, then this is for you :) (Or if you need to lose elevation quickly because of an approaching t-storm, etc.).

Having reached our camp stash at the lake by about 4:30PM, and with the generally unstable weather, we decided to have a snack, repack things and wander back to the truck - opting for a night of hotel (Evanston, WY) and pizza instead of a wet tent. After a fairly leisurely pace, we were out before dark. No issues for an acclimatized party to do this one in a day, especially if you plan for it as a day trip and don't haul overnight gear in with you.

The only other remarkable feature of the day was herding, inadvertently, hundreds of sheep off the trail as we went up and back. The sheep were the normal white and fluffy kind, left grazing in large groups in the mountain meadows. Certainly not a region you ever want to drink the water directly from the creeks! No bugs to speak of all day, incidentally...which was very surprising.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:3061 ft / 933 m
    Distance:24.4 mi / 39.2 km
    Route:N Ridge
    Trailhead:Henrys Fork Campground  10467 ft / 3190 m
    Grade/Class:Class 2-
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Drizzle, Pleasant, Calm, Overcast
About 7 micro showers throughout day
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:6 Hours 6 Minutes

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