Cliff Lake/South Summit

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 40.79860°N / 110.4254°W
Additional Information Route Type: Hiking
Seasons Season: Summer, Fall
Additional Information Time Required: A few days
Additional Information Difficulty: Mostly Walking with Steep Elevation Gain
Additional Information Grade: III
Sign the Climber's Log


Starting from the Henrys Frok Trailhead, make the hike out past Dollar Lake where the trail splits off to go to Henrys Fork Lake. This lake or Lake Blanchard are the best spots to spend a night. Once you get up into upper Henrys Fork Basin the trees clear out and you can see the route up to Cliff Lake. It is basically cross-country hiking to Cliff Lake with no trail, be careful to steer clear of marshy areas and minimize off trail damage to delicate meadows. It shouldn't take more than an hour to reach Cliff Lake. This little lake is amazing because it is hidden in a huge bowl like ampitheater created by Henrys Fork Peak and Mount Powell. It is probable that less than a handful of people actually visit this lake every year. If you
would like complete solitude this would be the place to be. Once at the lake you will see Mt. Powell to the right and an open gully that leads to a pass between the south summit and another unnamed peak on the left. It is possible that the gully/drainage could be filled with snow into late August, but it shouldn't pose a huge problem, just be careful of not falling through melted patches onto the rock below and twisting an ankle. Once this point is reached
the actual climbing of the peak begins.

Route Description

From the gully the climbing gets very steep. From my experience the scree and rock was very solid and easy to climb on, but there were several loose sections that could come loose so be careful. It could take up to an hour or more to ascend this section to the low point between Mt. Powell and the unnamed peak. Once you reach the pass/low point you geat amazing views to the south into the Yellowstone Drainage/Basin. We made a short little hike up to the left to the top of the unnamed peak, which only took about five minutes. We then descended and hiked back up to summit Mt. Powell. I would compare this last little part to the summit ridge of Kings Peak, but shorter. When you top out, you come out on the flat south summit. We found a small rock pile on the highest point and off a little ways a benchmark placement that gave the elevation at 13,167, which is a much higher elevation than what the topos give.
If you feel up to it and there are no rainstorms forming to the west you could climb the other two higher summits and descend down to Lake Blanchard to make a loop.

Essential Gear

Normal backcountry hiking gear. I recommend very sturdy boots because of all the rock hopping. There is plenty of water, so carry a purifier to get the good stuff from snowmelt. Early summer would reguire an ice ax and crampons and knowledge of snow conditions. But by late summer most of the snow is gone and not a problem. I always recommend a GPS unit to make waypoints and find elevations, but it is not necessary.

Miscellaneous Info

I highly recommend climbing Mt. Powell, solitude and amazing views are what you're rewarded with. Few if anybody summit it every year, and being so close to the main Kings Peak route it is easy and an excellent side adventure.



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