From the summit of Shoshoni Peak
, walk on talus following the Continental Divide first in the ENE direction and then in the SE direction to a marked notch where the ridge proper starts.
The route follows the ridge that connects Shoshoni Peak to Apache Peak. The ridge runs in the north-south direction and is festooned by gendarmes known as the Chessmen. The traverse may be made more challenging by climbing some or all of the Chessmen. Wright and Oveson, who made the first recorded ascent of all the Chessmen, named this variant Kasparov Traverse
. The route described here skirts the gendarmes and runs mostly on the east (left) side of the ridge crest.
The view from the notch on the Shoshoni side will test your resolve. It is not immediately clear how to descend the initial buttress
. In fact there are at least a couple of lines that are Class 3/4. One is on the climber's left side of the ridge: it goes down a rotten gully and traverses right at the base of the buttress. The other one follows more closely the crest and reaches more directly the notch at the base of the White Knight
Continue on the east side of the ridge losing some more elevation as you skirt some Chessmen (White Knight, Queen
, Bishop) along ledges. Other Chessmen (Rook, Bishop's Sceptre, and Black Knight
) are visible a little further away on the west side of the ridge.
From the saddle between Shoshoni and Apache ascend on or near the ridge crest. I stayed too far to the left and missed the easy Class 3 route up the King
reported by Wright and Oveson. My line, mostly to the east of a deep gully that separates the King from the bulk of Apache Peak, was Class 4 with loose rock and fresh snow to spice it up. If I were to do it again, I'd try to stay on the ridge's crest.
The last stretch--once you have reached the height of the summit of the King--is uncomplicated scramble on talus that leads you to the summit of Apache Peak.
Of Practicality in Climbing
According to Gerry Roach, the traverse from Shoshoni to Apache is not practical
. One should ask him for what he exactly meant by that, but here is my interpretation. The rock on the ridge is very often rotten and routefinding is nontrivial. The Chessmen themselves look made of sterner stuff, but without them, I'm afraid, this route is not the hidden gem I was hoping for.
Standard hiking equipemnt plus helmet. A rope and a light rack may come in handy even if you do not attempt to climb the Chessmen.
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