Backpacking Uintas Kings Peak and the surrounding 13,000 ft Peaks

Backpacking Uintas Kings Peak and the surrounding 13,000 ft Peaks

SLC to Henrys Fork TH 3hr drive (130 miles)

There is too much snow, we didn’t make it to Kings Peak.   One man got lost because there is too much snow. Exclaimed the 3 hikers who I met at the trail-head. After this short exchange, I wouldn’t see another person for the next 50hrs.

Doubt was running through my mind as I embarked on my journey solo (with rottweiler Kota). My audacious plans are to backpack 6hrs and setup camp. Then on Days 2-3 hike *5* different Utah Thirteeners 13,000 ft peaks 13ers.  Use day 4 to breakdown camp and pack out.

Backpacking Uintas Kings Peak

The 6hr hike up Henry’s Fork basin is an easy trail with 1 river crossing.
Backpacking Uintas Kings Peak and the surrounding 13,000 ft Peaks

Your 1st views of the massive Fortress Peak.

Dollar Lake backpacking campsite
Dollar lake is a great place to make camp

Backpacking Uintas Kings Peak and the surrounding 13,000 ft Peaks

Hiking Uinta Thirteeners 13’ers

The morning air was below freezing, but I had waken to capture to 5:57 am sunrise Photos.  Sunrise in the basin is spectacular.  Today the rottweiler and I were going to climb  (#3) Gilbert 13,442 ft  and  (#8) Gunsight 13,263 ft.   Gilbert and Gunsight  are closest to camp and have the easiest difficulty rating so I figured they would be good 13ers to start with.  To climb Gilbert we headed to the east shore of Dollar lake where we accessed the Dollar cirque. There is no trail to the summits, but route finding was fairly simple.

After we Summit-ed Gilbert  a severe wind storm howled in, picking up rocks and peppering us in the face.  The wind was so strong, and the terrain so rocky, that the only safe thing was to hunker down and cover.  We crouched down and waited for the winds to dye down.  The wind persisted so I pulled the plug on summiting Gunsight.  1 of 2, that’s pretty good.  Besides, Real Mountaineers Know When to Turn Around.

Gunsight Peak Uinta Mountains

Gunsight Peak 13,263 saddle from Gilbert easy hike to two summits

Gilbert Peak, from Dollar Lake  (one way) 2.8 miles    Elevation Gain 2,655ft    Time Est  2.5-3 hrs  (as a photographer my Time Estimates include time for pictures)

Gunsight Peak from Gilbert Peak   1.8 miles   Elevation gain 640ft / Loss 815ft  Time Est 1.5hrs

Upon arriving back at camp we were visited by deer. Kota stood guard, made sure those deer wouldn’t try any funny business.   Good dog!

On Guard, no funny business deer.

Hike Kings Peak

Today, we hike Kings Peak the highest mountain in Utah (13,528ft).  South Kings and Dome Peak are 2 adjacent 13ers also on the ittenerary for day-3.  We woke an hour before sunrise at 5am to get an early start on the long 9hr day.  After some coffee breakfast, we hit the trail.

Early June in the High Unitas there are, no people, no bugs, However; you have to deal with cold mornings and icy conditions in June.

Backpacking Uintas Kings Peak and the surrounding 13,000 ft Peaks
Frozen stream alpine flowers

Dollar Lake CG to Gunsight Pass (2.8 miles  1.5hrs)

Gunsight Pass Uinta mountains

Gunsight pass.

Gunsight pass summit


From Gunsight pass the trail got icy.
During the warm days snow melt runs down the hiking trail like a stream. When the temperature dropped overnight the stream froze and became a trail of Ice.

Highline Shortcut to Anderson Pass (2.8 miles and 1,500-ish ft verticle)

The Highline Shortcut trail descended through a couple small boulder fields, then became grassy and flattened out.  In the grassy meadow, the trail became faint and mostly disappeared.  This wasn’t a problem because there were huge cairns guiding the way.  (*hint* you may want to bring binoculars to help spot the cairns)

Backpacking Uintas Kings Peak and the surrounding 13,000 ft Peaks

Trail Cairn
The shortcut intersects with the Highline trail, and before we knew it, we were faced with a steep, slippery, consolidated snow field blocking our route up Anderson pass.  The snow field was too steep icy to traverse safely without an ice axe. Would this be the end to my summit bid? No way, I’m a backcountry skier. Route finding on steep slopes is a specialty. Check out my route.

Kings Peak trail
 
Anderson Pass Kings Peak

Top of Anderson Pass. Rocks become boulders from this point on.

Top of Anderson Pass. Rocks become boulders from this point on.

We made it to the top of Anderson pass. Just the final push and we’ll be on the Top of Kings Peak. The rocks get really big (home appliance size) from here. Dogs don’t have thumbs, so it got too risky for her to continue. No worries, It’s a very well trained dog so I’ll have her “Stay” while I get to the summit.

Black dot, little dog. She waited for her Master
Looking back at the dog after 10 minutes, and the summit is always further than it looks.  I can’t leave Kota there for that long. So I turn Back

Kings peak from Anderson pass

Kings summit, highest peak in Utah 13,528

Backpacking Uintas Kings Peak and the surrounding 13,000 ft Peaks

The summit was so close, None the less, real mountaineers know when to turn around.
On the way back the Snowfield had softened making passage safe. As I was kicking steps into the snow, I thought back to what the girl had told me in the parking lot, “There is too much snow, we didn’t make it to Kings Peak”.

(that evening about 7pm a man and his 2 sons set up camp near mine. They are the 1st people I’ve talked to since I left the trail head 50hrs ago.)

I didn’t make it to the top of Kings Peak, so now I have a reason to return.
(to see full Photo album click on one of the 1st two photos)

Backpacking Uintas Kings Peak and the surrounding 13,000 ft Peaks

For more Uinta Mountain adventures see:  uinta backcountry skiing hells kitchen