Ascent of Kings Peak on 2011-08-11

Climber: William Musser

Others in Party:Nate Lundberg <2740>Ben Musser
Hernan Lopez
Scott and Marc Holder
Wayne Lundberg
Andy Woodcock
Date:Thursday, August 11, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Kings Peak
    Elevation:13528 ft / 4123 m

Ascent Trip Report

Day three of our annual backpacking trip and one day after climbing Glibert Peak the third highest peak in Utah. Scott and Marc Holder had finally caught up to us the day before and sufferred through the evening of mosquitos at our marshland campsite just below Gunsight Pass. We ruined 2 brand new water filters trying to take water from mosquito larvae filled morraine bogs.

The next morning we moved our backpacks and the 45 pounds of gear we each carried along the side of the steep slopes of the base mountain that makes us both west Gunsight Peak and King's peak following an unmarked climbers trail through a boulder field and several snow packs. Andy had not much experience crossing steep snow packs and was tentative about following the cairns. We dropped packs when we found the standard trail route up Anderson Pass. Nate took the lead when we got to the scrambling section of King's Peak and we passed nearly everybody on the mountain accept one group of young teenagers that got an early start on us. Bryan Nelson turned back at Anderson pass as he was stuggling with the altitude and to keep up.

Hernan and I stayed together and remarkable that he and I were the second group to summit considering his ankle was so swollen. Ben, and Andy and Wayne all followed about 30 minutes after us and Hernan and I were about 30 minutes behind Nate.

We waited for the Holders but they were worn out from the day before and started late. We gave up waiting for them after 1.5 hours from Nate's summit time and headed down. We passed the Holders about 200 feet from the top and took great photos. The trip to South Kings Peak looked like a nice fun scrambling add on but we did not have time to do that and move our campsite again so we scuttled down quickly.

Andy did not have enough water and food in him and rapidly became fatigued. We grabbed our packs and bushwhacked a nearby snow covered ridge. I cheerfully cut some snow steps with my alpine boots and watched some follow while others elected to scramble as they did not feel confident in the snow. We traveled a total of 6.5 miles to the next campsite with our backpacks. The terrain was filled with boulders and cobblestones and it tore our legs up with the packs on.

Nate and I climbed down the last ridge after cresting Trail Rider Pass and Ben followed to help look for any possible campsite. Despite 5 glacial lakes or more in the morraine field there were no sites with grass to set up tents. The other 6 guys stayed on the ridge not wanting to scramble down with their packs on at the end of a tiring day unless there was a site. After over an hour we found a tiny suitable site that would squeeze 5 tents and we made camp. we upclimbed to assist Andy who was still up on the ridge about to crash. I have never seen him so fatigued backpacking with him for nearly 20 years. He is in excellent physical shape - an attestment to the ruggedness of this back country wilderness.

There were no people back in this part of the range. Whereas King's Peak had many day climbers and people bagging the state HP from Dollar Lake, nobody was heading over Gunsight Pass this week and once we got over Trail Rider Pass we did not see people for 3 more days.

There are many unmarked backcountry shoulders and ridges to scramble up the peaks in the back range here, Trail Rider, Roberts, Emmons, etc.. but the countryside is very very rocky and you need good support boots and take it easy on your joints. Most of the rock is stable and not like a sliding talus but it is none-the less, relentless and vast amounts of broken boulders to navigate through and one can underestimate the fatigue easily. King's Peak on the other hand is a relatively easy scramble with many well worn paths and people using it. I heard people complain that it was "too rocky" and we laughed as we found Gilbert, Gunsight, or Roberts more difficult on the feet where there are no trails and no refuge from the boulder fields to the summit anywhere.

All and all a nice long day hike for those wanting to approach from Dollar Lake side and return and a very long backpacking trip if you hike across the entire mountain range from Henry Fork TH to Uinta Canyon TH.

One other note: this was my third state HP in the past 2 years where helicopters where buzzing the place trying to search and rescue somebody. earlier this year 4 were hurt on Hood when I was there by falling ice and one lady was hospitalized. Last year on Baxter-Katahdin a man was helicoptered away after busting his face open on the knife edge. On Kings peak they had a party of 5 rescue rangers looking for a lost solo backpacker lost on his way to the peak on the highline trail (lost for 4 days). We never heard a report of him being found as we continued to hike out. This was another reminder that peakbaggin' can be a dangerous hobby even outside of attempting the more notable dangerous state HPs like the peaks in Washington and Alaska. Rumour is, however, that nobody has been helicoptered off Britton Hill in FL...just sayin'....
Click on photo for original larger-size version.
The pinnacle formation just before the summit of Kings Peak makes for nice views and photos (2011-08-11). Photo by William Musser.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4071 ft / 1240 m
    Total Elevation Loss:3456 ft / 1053 m
    Round-Trip Distance:13.2 mi / 21.2 km
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Open Country, Stream Ford, Snow on Ground, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Clear
beautiful other than the swarms of mosquitos at lower elevations
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3341 ft / 1018 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 2743 ft / 836 m; Extra: 598 ft / 182m
    Loss on way in:598 ft / 182 m
    Distance:6.7 mi / 10.8 km
    Route:Standard trail to Trail Rider Pass to Camp #2 to c
    Start Trailhead:Camp #1 at Dollar Lake  10785 ft / 3287 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:2858 ft / 871 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 2128 ft / 649 m; Extra: 730 ft / 222m
    Gain on way out:730 ft / 222 m
    Distance:6.5 mi / 10.5 km
    Route:cross country to camp #3
    End Trailhead:Camp #3 at glacial lake near Roberts Mountain  11400 ft / 3474 m
Ascent Part of Trip: King Peak Trip

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Gilbert Peak2011-08-10 a4142 ft / 1262 m
2Kings Peak2011-08-11 b4071 ft / 1241 m
3Roberts Peak2011-08-12 c2510 ft / 765 m
Total Trip Gain: 10723 ft / 3268 m    Total Trip Loss: 12563 ft / 3828 m

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