As the name implies, Picture Peak is one of the most beautiful peaks of Sierra Nevada. Judge for yourself...
The peak is located 0.6 miles east of Mount Haeckel in the Evolution Region of Sierra Nevada close to the northern extemity of Kings Canyon National Park. It lies just outside of the park boundary in John Muir Wilderness. Due to its low prominence ( less than 300') the peak is not identified on USGS maps and has no official name. The peak has been so often photographed from Hungry Packer Lake that it is now invariably referred to as Picture Peak.
Although Picture Peak is not on SPS list and has no register on the summit at the time of writing, it has been climbed from all sides and features routes from loose and poor class 3 on Southwest Side to an intriguing IV, 5.10 called Elphinston Buttress.
As it is often the case for many Sierra peaks, the honor of the first ascent belongs to Norman Clyde. However the route chosen by Norman on Picture Peak in 1931 is far from ideal, it can be recommended as a relatively straightforward descent option, while one is better off looking elsewhere for an aesthetically pleasing line of ascent. The route starts in the middle chute on the southwest side of the peak. It is loose although not very steep. Still wearing helmet is a good idea here, especially if climbing or descending in a group. The chute ends about 100ft from the summit, from where easy class 2/3 leads to the top. It is possible to avoid most of the loose stuff in the chute by keeping to the wall on climber's left. One could escape the chute altogether for some nice class 3 on the left as soon as the opportunity presents itself. Climbing out from the chute very early may require some class 4 or class 5 moves.
Not as scenic as the lake side, South side of Picture Peak is at least accessible to mere mortals. Southeast Ridge offers exciting class 4 climbing with many easier sections where one could relax and take in magnificent views of Mount Powell, Echo Lake, and Clyde Spires. The ridge tops out to the east of main peak. One has to descend into the chute at the top of the ridge and climb up to the Southwest side for easy class 3 to the summit. Don't take the chute you traversed on the descent. It is very loose and appears to have a couple of cliffs that might not be easy to negotiate on the way down. Southwest side of the peak presents the easiest option for descent.
The side facing Hungry Packer Lake is certainly the most scenic. Enjoy any of the 5.9-5.10 routes shown on the pictures.
Start from Sabina Lake trailhead and follow the trail to Hungry Packer Lake.
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