Kings Peak Climber's Log
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|rb1960||Thoughts for first timers |
Date Climbed: Jul 3, 2017
|We climbed Kings Peak via the popular Henry's Fork Trail. A lot has been written on this subject, but I'll add a few thoughts that should be helpful to first timers. After reading the route description on the main page, we were concerned about crowds. Despite hiking on July 4th weekend, there were far less hikers on the trail than on any other of the 25 state high points we have hiked, except perhaps Borah Peak in Idaho. The reason is obvious: hiking Kings is a long slog requiring backpacking and overnighting at least one night. |
Although we did the trip in two days, an extra day would have made the hike more pleasant. Most trip reports recommend camping at Dollar Lake or Henry's Fork Lake, on the near side of Gunsight Pass. That would work OK for a 3-day trip, but you really need to hike farther on Day One if you plan to complete Kings in 2 days. We climbed over Gunsight Pass and down into the upper Painters Basin to establish our camp. There, we were treated to the spectacular scenery (which is reminiscent of the interior of Iceland) and only one neighbor, whose tent was barely visible. Take note of the weather. In our case, we barely set up camp before a huge thunderstorm rolled through, lasting at least 90 minutes.
One important consideration when hiking Kings is that the length of the trail means you will be exposed to high elevations (between 9400 and 13500 feet) for days, not just hours. This means that lowlanders like me who haven't acclimatized to the high altitude may suffer altitude sickness even if they don't typcially on high point day hikes in the Rockies. (Altitude sickness is not just a function of height above sea level but also the length of exposure, with the onset of symptoms often delayed.)
Another obvious issue that I unfortunately minimized in my planning was how much carrying a 30 lb. backpack adds to the difficulty of the hike versus the typical day pack. This argues in favor of making Kings a 3-day hike rather than a 2-day hike, both because you can shorten the required hike each day and because you can leave your tent and other heavy belongings on the south side of Gunsight pass rather than lugging them up and over into Painter's Basin (and back) as we did. This is no minor consideration when fighting altitude sickness, as each of our party did at various points on the hike.
Hikers should beware that the trail signage on Kings is minimal and paint blazes non-existent. Rock cairns exist in certain areas, but it is quite easy to lose the trail once you exit the meadows of Henry's Fork Basin and head up Gunsight Pass. Generally, the direction you want to head is obvious, so you can usually relocate the trail in fairly short order. However, in certain places, such as the descent back into Painter's Basin, it is very easy to make a wrong turn and end up too far South and at the very bottom of the basin. Once there, you either must scramble through heavy brush and swamps or reverse course entirely and hike back up towards Anderson Pass to find where you made the wrong turn (an unwelcome prospect after just completing the difficult bolder hopping scramble up the summit).
One of the nice things about the Henry's Fork approach, other than the absolutely gorgeous scenery, is that water is plentiful along the trail. Even in early July, there were ample snowfields feeding streams all over the mountain. We filtered the water and used iodine tablets to be safe. If you do this, also bring absorbed acid neutralizer tablets, which eliminate the taste of the iodine (but wait 30 minutes for the iodine to do its work).
One last word of caution: if you don't have a GPS navigation system, take careful note of how you get to Henry's Fork Campground so you know what turns to make on the way out. The campground is on a dirt service road well out of cell phone range. If you finish at dark and try to feel your way back to I-80, you will end up navigating a maze of nameless dirt roads in the pitch black of the Utah/Wyoming wilderness with nothing more than your I-phone compass to guide you. (Spoken from experience!)
|Posted Jul 5, 2017 9:46 pm|
|SageMcCann||King's peak with dog |
Date Climbed: Sep 13, 2016
|Summit gained around 1pm. I was chased down the mountain by snow. I took my Golden Retriever with me to the top - he was a real trooper. There was one spot where I had to help him up, same story on the way down. A smaller dog might have more trouble. I camped at Dollar lake the night before, and hiked straight out to Henry's Fork trailhead after summiting. Having to hike over gunsight pass on the way in and out made for a tiring summit day. A lot of fun, great views, and plenty of water along the way to dog hydrated, there is a small stream on the approach towards the summit ridge.|
|Posted Jan 2, 2017 12:25 pm|
Date Climbed: Oct 1, 2016
|10/1/2016 Snowing, raining, and windy.|
3/28/2015 WMC ski trip. Too mushy on the way down but otherwise nice.
3/29/2014 WMC one day ski trip. Super windy with blowing snow. 9 people made the summit.
3/30/2013 WMC one day ski trip. The conditions were as good as they get for the way back. Other than an occasional step here and there, glided or double poled the whole way back. 13:40 RT
3/31/2012 WMC one day ski trip. Nice hard crust on the way up and way too soft snow on the way down. Windy, but very warm. 14:53 RT. Skied through grass, mud, and small streams and over collapsing snow bridges.
3/26/2011 WMC one day ski trip. 0 degrees at the start. My food fell out of my sleeping bag and froze so I had to put it on the dash with the defroster on to thaw it. My breakfast was pretty crunchy. 9:25 up and 15:10 RT. Four of us made the summit. The most open water on the route that I have seen to date.
7/15/2010 Started at HF TH. Climbed Kings, S Kings, Painter Peak, Trail Rider Peak, Roberts Peak, N Emmons, Emmons, S Emmons, Owl, Lost BM, and Flat Top BM and exited via Dry Gulch in one long 21 hour day.
3/27/2010 The best conditions I've seen yet for this WMC one day ski event. 9 hrs to the summit and 14:40 RT. It was so nice to not have to ski back in the dark.
9/4/2009 With Scott Wesemann. We were lucky and just missed some really bad weather.
7/19/2009 Day hike from Henrys Fork TH. Expected a zoo, but saw almost no one.
7/7/2009 In one long 17 hour, 28+ mile day starting from the Henrys Fork TH, I did Kings Peak, S Kings Peak, Painter Peak (13387), and Trail Rider Peak (13247). Then descended into Painter Basin, back over Gunsight Pass, and back to the start. The weather was perfect.
Annual WMC ski trip. Grueling, but fun day and beautiful weather. Over a foot of new snow. 10 people made the summit. 16:45 round trip.
Annual WMC ski trip. Skied 14 miles, almost to the top of Gunsight Pass and then booted another 2 to the top of Kings Peak for 32 miles round trip. Left at 5:20 am (last person out of camp) and got back to the car at 9:20 pm for a total of 16 hours. I got to Gunsight Pass at 11:55 am, Kings at 3:05 pm, and back to Gunsight at 5:10 pm. Started at Henry's Fork winter parking which is another 7 miles round trip from the summer trailhead. Truly the hardest thing I've ever done. The weather was cloudy and it was flurrying off and on for the first 5 hours. Then it gradually cleared up but was incredibly windy from Elkhorn Crossing on. Fortunately, it was relatively warm (in the 20's). The skiing part was easy (at least for those of us who had been on skis more than once), the rest of it was not. The hardest part was traversing across the steep slope at the base of 13103 on the way to the base of Kings Peak. I got blown over once on the way over and slipped once on the way back, but fortunately brought an ice axe and managed two successful self arrests. Twelve people made it to the summit including MOCKBA and Moogie737 who had only been on x-country skis once before.
11 hour, 24 mile day hike from the Henrys Fork Summer TH with MM.
A leisurely 5 day backpack with lesdubois. Started at China Meadows and went up Smiths Fork over Smiths Fork Pass, up to Andersons Pass, up to Kings, down to Painter Basin, over Gunsight Pass, across Henrys Fork Basin, over the lower part of the Flattop/Powell ridge and back to the start.
|Posted Nov 20, 2016 7:17 pm|
|seano||Standard route |
Date Climbed: Sep 14, 2016
|A cold day after the season's first snow -- scenic, but slow going. Trip report.|
|Posted Sep 16, 2016 4:36 pm|
|Diesel||Day Hike via Henrys Fork TH |
Date Climbed: Aug 30, 2016
|Easy (non-technical) day hike on a mostly sunny day. None of my fears became real: the trail is impossible to miss, the shortcut from Gunsight Pass is very defined, easy to see and very easy to follow. The "scramble" to the summit from Anderson Pass is no scramble at all; all of the rocks on this mountain are almost glued together. There was no lighting or rain, although lots of clouds gathered greatly above the mountain starting at 11:30 AM. I came down the toilet bowl chute and that was an easy descent, cutting 1.25 miles and an hour of hiking. The one thing I did not worry about was the altitude sickness, and that hit me hard once I got in bed that evening. In a nutshell: 25 miles in 10 hours and 41 minutes total time, with a 9 hours and 47 minutes of an actual hiking time. 5:50 AM to 4:30 PM. Not to shabby. I will probably write a trip report about this in a couple of mounts.|
|Posted Sep 4, 2016 9:53 pm|
|bricewilson||Day trip from Henry's Fork |
Date Climbed: Aug 18, 2016
|Also tagged West Gunsight on the way. Was hoping to get a few more after King's, but lightning, thunder and hail started right at noon and lasted for a few hours.|
|Posted Aug 31, 2016 1:17 pm|
|swenspud||Quick Backpack Trip |
Date Climbed: Aug 16, 2016
|Climbed via Henrys Fork. Decided to camp up over Gunsight Pass and into Painters Basin. Storms seemed to be circling all around, but we got lucky and only got hit with a little hail storm and some rain coming over Gunsight. The rest of the evening, after setting up camp, we enjoyed good weather. No rain over night, and at 4 AM in the morning we had stars and clear skies. Perfect for making our way to the summit. It was an incredible time. Packed out that same day, surprised at all the storms we saw around us, yet never getting hit by any. Didn't hear a single clap of thunder or see a single flash of lightning.|
|Posted Aug 25, 2016 9:52 pm|
|IagosGhost||Long Haul |
Date Climbed: Jul 24, 2016
|We climbed via Henry's Fork. We had a great climb and be some very nice people along the way. The views were amazing and make the toil worth it. We considered going down the chute to save some time, but we decided against it.|
|Posted Aug 1, 2016 10:37 am|
|Zlpeeps86||1 day |
Date Climbed: Jul 28, 2016
|Climbed King's peak in one day.. 16 hour round trip. I started at the Henry fork trailhead at 5:30am made it back at 9:30pm.. I would not recommend a 1 day hike for the weak willed.|
|Posted Jul 29, 2016 8:38 pm|
|x4wheeling||48 hours of awesome |
Date Climbed: Jul 15, 2016
|48 hours round trip from SLC. Excellent conditions and weather. Epic sunset in upper basin.|
|Posted Jul 16, 2016 7:51 pm|
|PanamaRed||Snowy Early June Ascent |
Date Climbed: Jun 10, 2016
|Did a 5 day trip out into the Uintas and Kings Peak from June 8-12. There was TONS of snow and water near Dollar Lake, and I ended up camping on an "island" of bare dry ground, surrounded by swampy vegetation. The water was 2-3 ft deep in some areas of the swamp. I spent 2 nights in this area waiting for a weather window. On June 10, it was somewhat cloudy, but I took a chance and went for it. From Dollar lake on the snow was very deep, and I was constantly punching through the snow up to my knees and sometimes waist. From Gunsight Pass I traversed along the eastern flank of West Gunsight Peak trying not to loose to much elevation. I ended up ascending a VERY steep couloir which I mistook as the proper way to reach the saddle between Kings and West Gunsight. It took me to the right spot thankfully. The North Ridge of Kings was a wall of quite steep snow(im sure when it is dry it does not look as steep). I was glad I had my ice axe with me. I made it too the summit around 5pm(My cell phone had no service and thus I had no alarm. I woke up a little late that morning). The descent proved to be a breeze up to the point when the sun set. I spent 3 hours slogging my way through the waist deep lower elevation snow, and the knee deep swamps. I finally stumbled back to my tent at around midnight. I took a rest day the next day which proved to be a mistake. The weather came back with a vengance, and I spent most of the afternoon huddled in my tent while lightning exploded all around me. Several strikes where withing 100ft of my tent. The next day I packed up and headed for my truck, only to be pelted with quite large hailstones and lightning bolts. I was very glad to reach my car. All in all its was a great trip. I was the only person out in the valley beneath kings, which was quite cool.|
|Posted Jun 21, 2016 11:44 pm|
|evant||boy scout route|
|did this a couple times as a boy scout in 1998 and 1999, multiday backpack from Henry's fork. Mini loop around sawmill and bear lakes, up the "shortcut" gully above lake 11208, then down past dollar lakes.|
|Posted Feb 22, 2016 1:02 am|
|bdz132||Kings Peak |
Date Climbed: Jul 30, 2004
|I hiked this back in 2004 with my brother, father, and brother-in-law as part of a 3-day backpacking and fishing trip. We started at Henry's Fork TH and camped at Henry's Lake. I fell in love with the remoteness and beauty of the Uinta Mountains and try to go backpacking and fishing there every year.|
|Posted Oct 30, 2015 2:22 am|
|Garon Coriz||Autumn Weekend |
Date Climbed: Sep 26, 2015
|With Duc, Doug, and Darby. Left Henry's Fork TH at 11 am and arrived at Dollar Lake at 2:30. Refueled, rested, and found a campsite before deciding there would be too much free time so we might as well summit. We hike over Gunsight Pass and followed the trail around and up to Anderson Pass before hitting the summit right at sunset(7:15) The full moon made headlamps unnecessary except for looking for cairns. We followed the trail back to camp and arrived at 02:00. There were brilliant shooting stars and a wonderful peace to the land. We ate dinner and drank hit drinks before bed. The next morning, we left camp at 11:45 and arrived at the TH at 1:45. My feet were burning but it was such a great trip, I didn't care. Will have to revisit the high Uinta again.|
|Posted Sep 27, 2015 11:47 pm|
Date Climbed: Sep 11, 2015
|Reached the top with Justin and Megan on Friday, September 11th. Camped at Dollar lake on the 10th and 11th, hiked out on the 12th. Saw 2 moose less than a tenth of a mile from our Dollar Lake camp.|
|Posted Sep 14, 2015 11:14 am|
|browng73||Best in Utah |
Date Climbed: Aug 1, 2015
|Hiked in from Henry's Fork TH. Came this way 20 years ago and went straight to Dollar Lake. This time I took the right fork at Elkhorn Crossing and visited the west side of the valley. Much better scenery and mountain views. Bear Lake is worth a visit. The trail passes above Grass Lake, and just to the soutwest although there is no trail, is Island lake. Saw 7 moose there-5 bulls. Camped at Henry's Lake. Ascended Kings by way of Gunsight Pass, dropping into Painter Basin and following trail that skirts along bottom of cliffs. Easy trail, but long. 7 miles from camp to peak that way. On the way down, we descended Anderson Pass. Very steep but doable, just stay out of the loose rocks, and give plenty of space between people because rock falls are easily started. From peak back to Henry's via Anderson was just over 3 miles- saves a lot of time on the return trip, but it is only for the fit.|
If fishing is your thing, go up to Lake Blanchard- above Henry's. Awewsome fishing- nice yellow Browns!
|Posted Aug 31, 2015 12:20 pm|
|abrennalinerush||Technically summited twice in the same day. |
Date Climbed: Aug 29, 2015
|After living in this beautiful state for three years, I finally got to meet Kings! Done as part of the Utah Triple Crown (did Gilbert the day before and South Kings right after Kings) from Henry's Fork trailhead. Perfect weather!|
|Posted Aug 30, 2015 9:30 pm|
|fallonclimbs||First backpack trip |
Date Climbed: Jul 6, 2012
|2 days of amazing hiking and scrambling. Beautiful weather for summit morning but otherwise rainy. Saw moose|
Trip report https://summitsofthestates.wordpress.com/2012/07/07/utah/
|Posted Aug 30, 2015 1:25 pm|
|ridings82||Kings Peak |
Date Climbed: Aug 8, 2015
|Started on a Friday evening at 5pm and hiked up to Dollar Lake - spent the night in the rain and wind with snow flurries above 12k feet (in early August). Summited the next morning, hiked back to camp, broke it down and hiked out. Back at car by 5:30pm, just over 24 hours including spending the night. Saw search and rescue looking for some lost Boy Scouts as well; not quite what you're hoping to find.|
08/08/15 - Via Henry's Fork, Gunsight Pass, cut-off, Anderson Pass and Summit
08/03/16 - Side hike from Anderson Pass are part of the Highline Trail from Mirror Lake to Hackling Lake.
|Posted Aug 11, 2015 1:47 am|
Date Climbed: Jul 14, 2013
|Hiked this in 2 days with my wife from Henry's Fork. Beautiful hike.|
|Posted Aug 6, 2015 5:54 pm|