Ascent of Kyes Peak on 2014-10-10

Climber: James Barlow

Date:Friday, October 10, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Kyes Peak
    Elevation:7280 ft / 2218 m

Ascent Trip Report

The trail to Virgin Lake is in great shape and took less than 2 hours to ascend. I managed to follow the trail quite successfully for about 95% of the distance between the lake and the descent to the boulder field below Peak 5,845. The descent to the boulder field was followed by a bushwhack to the pass between Pk 5,485 and Kyes Pk. There are no real use trails through this section. At this point another hiker, Matt, from Seattle, was encountered. He did not summit.

A use trail does ascend the ridge to the north quite nicely though. Once you reach the upper boulder field, the going is smooth. The permanent snow fields are tiny this season, likely due to a low snow year coupled with global climate change. The next notch is gained quite easily and is a great spot to top off water bottles in the nearby snow patches. The next portion of the climb is unpleasant, but not tough. You have to scramble along a ledge covered in choss/scree/ball bearings/total crap. It is not too bad, just crummy footing. Once reaching the upper snowfield, sticking to the ridge was preferred on rock over snow. At this point, Matt was not enjoying the loose footing all that much and decided to turn back. Too bad, he was so close. It was also at this point that the clouds began to move in and ruin the sunny bluebird day. It is a very easy and nearly flat walk to the summit block.

From a distance, the summit block looks very formidable, but as it turns out, it is quite easy. There are a number of seams in the rock that make for excellent footholds as you ascend. These were followed up. The only challenge to this part of the scramble is the loose rock everywhere. If the loose rock were not here, it would be exponentially easier. I made short work of it anyway. Lingering was not ideal as the clouds were building to the north over Three Fingers and Whitehorse and the view of Rainier had become obscured by clouds in that direction as well. Still visible were the higher Olympic peaks through layers in the clouds and Glacier Pk. There were magnificent views of White Chuck, Pugh, and Sloan all lined up in a row. Views of Columbia had dominated the ascent, so it was nice to see some of the other local giants. The viewscape also included Mt Baker, Mt Shuksan, Bonanza & Martin, Indian Head Pk, Mt David, Mt Howard (climbed it earlier this week), Mt Stuart, Mt Daniel, Hinman, Chimney Rock, and closer in Monte Cristo and Del Campo (also climbed it earlier this week).

After a hasty retreat from the summit block and back down to the easy flat ridge, I made a quick detour to the Monte Cristo BM just to check it out and take a pretty cool picture of it in focus with the summit of Kyes behind it. The descent on the loose junk was as unenjoyable as the ascent of it. Once at the saddle below the loose stuff, my level of concern about the incoming weather diminished greatly. The ultimate goal was to be back at Virgin Lake before darkness and before the rain began as hiking down a trail in the dark is much less concerning than bushwhacking and scrambling on rocks is in the dark and rain. The bushwhack back to the boulder field seemed to go better than on the ascent, though it still sucked. Once at the boulder field, the use trail was easy to follow for 100% of the way back to Virgin Lake. The descent was uneventful, though it grew dark enough to use a headlamp about halfway back to the trailhead from the lake. While I was worried about the impending rain, it only misted for about 5 minutes once just above the boulder field, and then rained for about 1 minute on the trail below Virgin Lake. Neither occasion even warranted pulling out a rain jacket, let alone worrying about scrambling over slick rocks... Pics
Click on photo for original larger-size version.
The summit block of Kyes Pk as seen from the south near BM Monte Cristo 7,025 (not to be confused with Monte Cristo Pk to the north of Kyes). (2014-10-10). Photo by James Barlow.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5560 ft / 1693 m
    Extra Gain:200 ft / 60 m
    Route:Via Virgin Lake
    Trailhead:2120 ft / 646 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by James Barlow
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

Other Photos

Click on photo for original larger-size version.
Columbia Peak and the Columbia Glacier as seen from the south ridge of nearby Kyes Peak (2014-10-10). Photo by James Barlow.
Click here for larger-size photo.

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