Kaweah Queen, along with Lawson Peak
, anchors the north end of the remote Kaweah Range. Overshadowed by its distinct neighbor Black Kaweah
and overlooked on the
Sierra Club Angeles Chapter’s Sierra Peaks Section
peak list, it nevertheless is a worthwhile objective if exploring the 9 Lakes Basin area. Like its neighbors, Kaweah Queen has exceedingly loose rock and care must be taken during the climb. First recorded ascent
was by Gerald A. Gaines, C. A. Gaines, and H. H. Bliss on July 11, 1924, probably from Lawson Peak via the northwest ridge.
Kaweah Queen (center left) from the west, shot from Mt Stewart (Aug 11)
While Kaweah Queen can be approached from a variety of directions (given enough time and fortitude), the easiest routes are from the west. The Black Kaweah
page has excellent directions on the two primary western approaches which accesses the 9 Lakes Basin.
The High Sierra Trail from Crescent Meadow heads east for 20+ miles through the stunning Valhalla area to the Kaweah Gap and the 9 Lakes Basin. Several miles of cross-country to the higher lakes accesses two routes.
The Glacier Pass trail is an old hiking trail that branches off the Sawtooth Pass trail out of Mineral King and provides rapid access to the Little 5 Lakes Basin via either the Black Rock Pass trail or the cross-country Hands and Knees pass route. The latter route is the fastest but do not use the description in Secor. Instead, use the directions from Spring Lake in the aforementioned Black Kaweah summitpost page. Regain the trail at the highest lake and follow it to the Big Arroyo cabin junction turning north to get to the Nine Lakes Basin.
The Colby Pass trail provides access to the Picket Creek drainage and the north face of Kaweah Queen. Travel is easy in the drainage after the initial climb up the creek’s western side. The departure point from the trail is only a couple miles from the Colby Pass trail’s eastern terminus at (lower) Junction Meadows. Numerous trail options are available to get to Junction Meadows from the east given sufficient time.
Kaweah Queen (center left) above Picket Creek basin (Jul 10)
RoutesNorthwest Ridge: The easiest route to the summit is from the saddle between Lawson Peak and Kaweah Queen. Decent scrambling on loose rock is kept at class 3 by staying to the right of gendarmes encountered. The saddle is attained by heading due west from the lowest of the 9 Lakes to Lake 11430.
Southwest Slope: This route climbs the face from the highest and most southern of the 9 Lakes. An alternative and possibly safer route is to climb the Pyro-Queen Col between Kaweah Queen and Pyramidal Pinnacle (just east of Black Kaweah.)
North Face: Secor calls this route (from Picket Creek drainage) extraordinarily loose and I call that an understatement (after setting off a rock fall of several tons). This route requires extreme caution on ascent and descent
Other possible routes includes climbing the east ridge in the vicinity of Peak 4033m from either Picket Creek drainage or Kaweah Basin. The climb along the ridge is reportedly Class 3.
Red Tape and Weather
Everything you need to know about permits, regulations, and driving directions can be found on the NPS SEKI
web page (western approach) or the Eastern Sierra - Logistical Center page
(eastern approach). While overnight hikes require a wilderness permit, day hikes can be done without red tape.
Climbing can be done in almost any season but May through October are the most popular times. In heavy snow years, the chutes and slopes may hold residual snow. Check for current weather
View south from the summit: the many challenging Kaweah peaks (Jul 10)
from 9 day solo climbing trip on the Great Western Divide
Bob Burd's day hike
of Kaweah Queen