OverviewIt was recently (May, 2008) pointed out to me that what is described below is the highpoint of the ridge between El Cap Gully and El Cap, but it is NOT K-P Pinnacle. K-P Pinnacle is detached from the higher ridge at about 2/3 the height. So now I have to go back and climb the true K-P and revamp this page. :-)
K-P Pinnacle is the highest in a series of pinnacles on the Valley's North side rising between El Cap Gully and El Cap's SW Face. Most of the route via El Cap Gully is a class 2-3 scramble with a bit of grungy technical climbing not far from the summit. Note that the coordinates given in the USGS database and indicated on the 7.5 minute map are not for the correct location. This point shows the true location of the pinnacle.
K-P Pinnacle was first climbed in 1941 by Ted Knoll and Jack Piontake, and it has been presumed that the name derives from the last intials of the two first ascentionists. The summit provides a fine view of Cathedral Rocks, but frankly not much else - El Cap dominates the feature to such an extent that few visitors on the valley floor even notice this pinnacle tucked neatly around the corner.
ApproachThe easiest approach is up El Cap Gully. Follow the approach described on that route page for 2/3 the length/height of the gully. K-P Pinnacle is the last and highest pinnacle on the right before encountering the massive SW Wall of El Cap. Turn out of El Cap Gully and follow a side gully to the right that leads to a notch between El Cap and K-P Pinnacle.
Roper describes an approach from the south via West Chimney. He describes the main difficulty as finding a way up West Chimney which he describes elsewhere as a 5.9 climb with serious bouldering problems to surmount chockstones. If you're climbing at the 5.9 level, perhaps you ought to be asking yourself if you couldn't find something better to be climbing than the West Chimney.
Route DescriptionClimb halfway up the side gully out of El Cap Gully towards the notch. Where possible, exit right out of the side gully. Climb class 3-4 rock with much grunge/debris in the cracks and on the ledges (remember, this isn't a pretty climb). Trees and shrubs can be quite helpful to ensure upward progress. There is little sun that ever reaches this part of the pinnacle, so it is likely to be wet or damp much of the year. Atop this ugly scramble section, you'll find yourself at the 5.2 crux on the north side of the pinnacle with about 100 feet of vertical left. The crux is an easy climb in a crack with poor holds above, unless the rock is wet. Then it can be a bit unnerving with slimy moss growing on much of it. A rope is great to instill additional confidence at this point. From the top of the crux, a gentle slope leads to the summit rocks, followed by an easy scramble east to the highpoint.
Two rappels with a 50m rope will suffice to get you past all the grungy climbing. Compared to the climb up, the rappels can be a real treat.
Essential GearIce axe/crampons helpful if there is any snow, which can linger in the side gully late into spring.
A 50m rope is sufficient for rappels, one piece of pro was used in the crux, a medium-sized cam.
Rock shoes are only helpful if you expect the rock to be dry (mid to late summer).