My wife Kimberly and myself decided to give Kings Peak a try over New Years weekend, 2000-2001. Unlike most other climbs, reaching the base of the mountain is the most difficult part of the climb. Kings Peak is a very long trip in the winter, being 40 miles round trip. On the last weekend of March of every year, the Wasatch Mountain Club has a ski marathon and attempts the peak on racing skiis in a single day
! Most years of the marathon, no one makes the summit, but a few hardy souls are occasionally successful. In December-January, the days are much shorter, and the snow much more powdery, and climbing the peak in three days is a difficult challenge. As expected, we didn't reach the summit, but it was a good attempt and trip anyway.
Day 1, December 30: We left for the Henrys Fork trailhead early in the morning from SLC. It was snowing at the trailhead and when we donned snowshoes and started the hike. We took sleds to haul the packs in. The trail was packed by snowmobiles along the four miles to the summer trailhead/campground which made for quick travel. The weather cleared and it remained clear for the rest of the trip. After that, there was much more deep powder than expected and the going was slow right after the campground. Walking was strenuous despite the realitively level ground. We had hoped to make it near Dollar Lake, but with the deep powder snow, we didn't come that close. After seeing that there was almost no way we would make the summit of Kings, we decided to turn out focus toward Flat Top Mountain. We snowshoed SW to the base of Flat Top and set up camp when it got dark.
Day 2, December 31: The morning temp was 2F (-17C), so I had to cook breakfast, loosing the bet that it would drop below 0F (-18C). We truged through the deep powder and reached the base of Flat Top. It was then a very steep climb with ice axes up to the summit plateau. We followed the edge of the summit plateau, taking in all the spectacular views of Kings, Gilbert, Gunsight, Henrys Fork Peaks, and Mount Powell. We reached 12,170 feet, in the afternoon. This was apparently the first recorded
winter ascent of Flat Top, but it is certainly possible (likely) that others had preceeded us, and hadn't signed the trail register. We returned to the camp very tired, but it was a great day. We went to sleep at 8pm, kind of early for New Years Eve!
Day 3, January 1st: Again I had to cook breakfast as it was 9F (-15C) in the morning. After packing up camp, the walk back was easy along our already broken trail. What a great trip!!
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