Kimtah Peak lies in the middle of Ragged Ridge in North Cascades National Park in Washington. It is probably the most difficult to access of the Ragged Ridge peaks and generally takes a 3 day trip for most parties to summit. The majority of climbers will combine Kimtah with near by Cosho peak and / or the other Ragged Ridge peaks. It is rarely climbed as a sole objective. Kimtah, according to Wikipedia Chinook Jargon, means behind; after; afterwards; last; since. The name apparently was chosen by Fred Beckey and I’m not really sure why he picked this name for the peak. Maybe because it's behind Mesahchie and Katsuk when viewed from Easy Pass? The first ascent was by the Roper party on June 6th, 1970 who picked the name Gendarmes Peak, which you’ll see from time to time, but the official name is Kimtah Peak.
Most parties approach from the east via Easy Pass off of Highway 20. From the town of Marblemount drive east on Highway 20 for 45 miles to reach the signed and easy to identify turn out for the Easy Pass Trailhead on the right (west) side of the road. Some parties may approach from the west via a longer route. The most likely access from the west is via Thunder Creek out of the Colonial Creek Campground, 24 miles east of Marblemount.
Kimtah Peak North Face (gimpilator photo)
There are several ways to approach the summit block of Kimtah Peak. Most common is from the east via Easy Pass. I will not be outlining approaches from the west although they are certainly possible albeit quite longer. The following map outlines several options for an approach from the east:
Kimtah Route Options
It should be noted here that all routes require cross country travel (no trails), and the use of route finding and scrambling (up to class 4 potentially) are essential skills necessary to have honed before considering this trip
. If you're researching this trip you probably already know that, but this is not the place to learn these skills. This is a very difficult trip regardless of the route you choose.
The red route above is perhaps the traditional route which goes cross country from easy pass traversing the side hill of Ragged Ridge over to camp in the basin below Mesahchie Peak. More detail on this route can be seen below. Plan on about 3 hours for the traverse from Easy Pass to the camp below Mesahchie, give or take.
The blue route above is an option for those who don't wish to do the traverse. You take the trail down easy pass into Fisher Creek Basin, losing around 1800 ft elevation which you will need to regain via a more direct scramble straight up from Fisher Creek Basin. Both options have their up and down sides, and it has been debated which is "better" but in reality it's pick your poison.
The purple option above may be appealing if you do not wish to summit Mesahchie or Katsuk on your trip and just want Kimtah and/or Cosho. See this trip report
for a description of the purple route.
Kimtah Traverse Route
This above diagram outlines the traditional Ragged Ridge traverse for the summit of Kimtah Peak. This map is hand drawn, but based on my GPS track from my trip. Your route will certainly vary based on your route finding.
From the Easy Pass Trailhead hike the 3.5 miles and 2800 ft elevation gain up to Easy Pass. From the pass I would recommend following the trail down until it makes it's first switchback and take off cross country from there. Some will recommend to take off cross country straight from Easy Pass (which I did on my trip) but side hilling sucks. Do yourself a favor and take as much trail as you can.
Fisher Creek Basin from near Easy Pass
Fisher Creek, Mt Logan, and Mesahchie Peak from the Start of the Traverse
You'll basically want to stay between 6400 and 6800 ft as you traverse across towards camp. Use your route finding skills to find the best route. The most difficult part comes at the last large water crossing before camp where a nice easy trail like crossing can be found at ~6550 ft. From the crossing traverse a bit more until you are forced uphill by a cliffy rib. This will spit you out above the camp basin and you'll have to descend a bit from there to reach camp. I witnessed random falling rock on this traverse (near one of the water crossings), so a helmet is probably a good idea.
From camp, make your way to the saddle north of point 7430. If you are blocked by snow continue north until you find passage. From the saddle head cross country staying around 7400 - 7600 ft. The traverse is an endless maze of ribs and gullies and you will cross easily over a dozen ribs on the traverse. Route finding here is critical although for the most part if you spot a route that looks like the easiest route but aren't sure if it will go, chances are it goes. The most difficult part is a rib about half way through. You'll know you are getting close when you see the Grotesque Gendarmes. This rib is very cliffy and there are two ways to go.
You can descend to ~7200 ft and look for two ledges that offer passage seen here
and on topo here
. This requires some elevation loss and re-gain as well as a short section of class 4.
The other route as outlined above, shows a high route. Once you reach the rib ascend towards the saddle where you can crest the rib before dropping down into the next gully. From here look for the obvious red ledge that crosses at the base of a couple of the Grotesque Gendarmes before traversing across ~7800 feet through a cliffy cave section and finally to a couple gullies that will lead you to the summit.
Red Ledge 1
Red Ledge 2
Kimtah Summit Gully Looking Down
Traverse from Camp to Kimtah
Kimtah Peak Panorama
Summit photosphere - click and drag to move view, mouse wheel to zoom
Parking at trailheads requires a Northwest Forest Pass. Any parties planning on camping will need to obtain a back country permit from the Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount
. Passes are only given out 24 hours in advance.
When to Climb
Most parties climb Kimtah once most snow has melted from the summit in late spring or early summer. Later in the season water can be hard to come by on the route.
The most common camp site is the basin south of Measahchie Peak. It is a fine camp with spectacular views of Graybeard, Arches, and Arriva. Water is located at the east side of the basin.
Light Show on Arches and Arriva
Sunrise Over Easy Pass from the Tent
Ragged Ridge Camp
Ragged Ridge TR by GeoTom here
A trip report with a western approach here