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Ascent of Kyes Peak on 2015-09-12

Climber: Greg Slayden

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Saturday, September 12, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Kyes Peak
    Location:USA-Washington
    Elevation:7280 ft / 2218 m

Ascent Trip Report

I used James Barlow's GPS track.

From Virgin Lake to the summit, the climber's trail/route can be broken down into these eight sections:

1. First part of climber's trail: easy hiking but somewhat overgrown down low. Highlight is a pleasant small meadow.

2. Overgrown ledges: I found this to be the worst part in some ways. The faint path is easy to lose and it traverses and climbs up some rocky fins and ledges. I could not find a route that did not involve ugly class 3 bushwhacking, but one might exist.

3. Trail on pleasant ridge: past the overgrown ledges, the trail is pretty nice for a while, on or near the crest, mostly flat. Nice views.

4. Sidehilling: The trail drops down to the west and sidehills to avoid Peak 5845. The heather is slippery with difficult footing even when dry, and there are glades of closely spaced evergreens to bushwhack through. You can stay high or low to get different mixtures of these. A small boulder field down low offers a tempting way to avoid a little of the sidehilling, but not much.

5. The Steep Ridge: From the col at 5400', a faint trail switchbacks relentlessly uphill, partly in forest, party in open heather clearings. The footing is OK, but there are countless variations. Up top it gets steep and a bit rocky before finally cutting left to descend a rocky staircase ramp to the talus basin below, in a section of white blocks (marked with cairns).

6. The Talus Basin: A huge, sloping, open, rocky area. In early season probably mostly snow, in September a mix of huge blocks, ball-bearing scree, and everything in between. Angle uphill, past a small lake, towards a notch in the skyline ridge.

7. The South Ridge: The bedrock of breccia is huge, solid, rounded blobs offering good friction, but the scree lying about is miserable loose ball-bearing gravel that can be very slippery. Follow ledges and the crest, trying to avoid the gravel the best you can. The final push to the summit block is easy, on clean, flat, glacier-scoured rock (or snow in early season).

8. The Summit Block: As you approach it is foreshortened and looks intimidating, but it is easily climbed directly using seams in the pillowy breccia. Just don't step on any gravel. Near the top a ledge leads right directly the airy summit. Downclimbing is definitely trickier, but it goes OK with care.

This peak is a long day and should not be underestimated. The route is very varied and the constant routefinding in certain sections can get tiresome. Get an early start and take plenty of water if doing this as a day-hike.

I encountered four other parties above Virgin Lake on this beautiful sunny weekend day: a group of three trying after a failed attempt the prior year; a single climber who joined them; a young couple, perhaps from Australia; and a young guy who got a late start and turned around on the sidehilling. The group of three took an alternate to the Steep Ridge section above, but I don't think they were too pleased with it.

My times:
0715 Leave car
0815 Overlook at 4000'
0845 Virgin Lake
1235 - 1300 Summit
1640 Virgin Lake
1745 Arrive Car
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:6030 ft / 1836 m
    Elevation Loss:6030 ft / 1836 m
    Distance:13.4 mi / 21.6 km
    Grade/Class:Class 3
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Scramble
    Weather:Hot, Breezy, Clear
Hazy
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:5680 ft / 1730 m
    Extra Loss:350 ft / 106 m
    Distance:6.7 mi / 10.9 km
    Route:S Ridge
    Trailhead:Blanca Lake TH  1950 ft / 594 m
    Time Up:5 Hours 20 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:5680 ft / 1730 m
    Extra Gain:350 ft / 106 m
    Distance:6.6 mi / 10.7 km
    Route:S Ridge
    Trailhead:Blanca Lake TH  1950 ft / 594 m
    Time Down:4 Hours 45 Minutes



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