Kings Peak in June

Kings Peak in June

Joined: August 8th, 2004, 6:58 pm

January 19th, 2006, 10:00 pm #1

I'm planning to do Kings Peak either this summer or next. But we may have to do it in June. Neither the Winger or Holmes book talks about snow turning this in to a technical climb. Can someone comment on the "typical" snow situation in June.
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Joined: January 20th, 2004, 6:42 pm

January 19th, 2006, 11:53 pm #2

I don't know if my experience could be described as typical, but on June 14, 2000, when I climbed Kings Peak, I encountered only a bit of snow near Gunsight Pass and a little bit just below the summit. I did the entire trip in running shoes without postholing and did not use my ice axe. Crampons were not necessary. I've heard that the preceding winter was a low snow year, so take my experience as anecdotal and keep tabs on the snowpack in the early spring.
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Joined: January 20th, 2004, 10:33 pm

January 20th, 2006, 12:25 am #3

I'm planning to do Kings Peak either this summer or next. But we may have to do it in June. Neither the Winger or Holmes book talks about snow turning this in to a technical climb. Can someone comment on the "typical" snow situation in June.
I used to be a guide in the Uintas, and I have written a guidebook to the Uintas, so I know the area well,and have been visiting for decades.

Anyway, "usually" there is a lot of snow in the Uintas in June. However, the last few years have been whacko. In 2002, for example, there wasn't much snow left in the Uintas in June. Last year, the was a whole bunch.

Kings Peak is never technical, even when there is snow. An ice axe is almost never needed. Do, however, bring gaiters and waterproof boots. Be prepared for snow around. River crossings can bea problem in June, so go for that.

If there is lots of snow around (continuous coverage), there shouldn't be too many mosquitos. If the snow has mostly melted, and recently, prepare to get swarmed.
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Joined: July 31st, 2002, 10:51 am

January 25th, 2006, 12:52 pm #4

I'm planning to do Kings Peak either this summer or next. But we may have to do it in June. Neither the Winger or Holmes book talks about snow turning this in to a technical climb. Can someone comment on the "typical" snow situation in June.
The conditions at Kings Peak can be quite different from year to year. Last June I was hoping to climb Kings, however the snow was still very deep so I went back in August to avoid the snow. Keep monitoring the conditions particularly later this spring to see how much snow is there and how fast it may melt. You can also check with the US Forest Service - Evanston, WY ranger station to get reports about the trail conditions and depth of the snow.

Good luck.
Gary
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Joined: January 20th, 2004, 9:07 pm

January 28th, 2006, 8:35 am #5

In my experience, the forest rangers will give you a very conservative reading on how clear the trail will be. Last summer, both the Wind River and Uintas rangers were telling me over the phone in early July that the areas were covered in snow and were impassable/dangerous/etc. They weren't not. There was some snow here and there, but the obstacle was minimal. Not saying you should not trust the rangers...just keep in mind they are assuming you are a typical weekend backpacker with NO experience in anything other than perfect conditions, and they don't want to be held liable for misleading you into a less than perfect situation.

I found more accurate (to my tastes) information from the local outfitters.
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Joined: February 16th, 2006, 3:05 pm

February 16th, 2006, 3:22 pm #6

I used to be a guide in the Uintas, and I have written a guidebook to the Uintas, so I know the area well,and have been visiting for decades.

Anyway, "usually" there is a lot of snow in the Uintas in June. However, the last few years have been whacko. In 2002, for example, there wasn't much snow left in the Uintas in June. Last year, the was a whole bunch.

Kings Peak is never technical, even when there is snow. An ice axe is almost never needed. Do, however, bring gaiters and waterproof boots. Be prepared for snow around. River crossings can bea problem in June, so go for that.

If there is lots of snow around (continuous coverage), there shouldn't be too many mosquitos. If the snow has mostly melted, and recently, prepare to get swarmed.
I too am planning a trip to King's in late June early July. I plan to do the Henry's Fork Trail. However, I live on the East Coast and have not done any hiking in the Uintas or the west for that matter. I have done a lot of camping and hiking so I know the basic gear required but I was wondering if I any special gear was necessary for this trip. For example:

- Are crampons and ice axe necessary?
- Will I need snowshoes for the approach?
- What about boots - leather mountaineering boots or will light to mid-weight hikers do?
- Average temps look pretty cold at night - is a 4 season tent necessary?

I know the weather changes each year and that there may or may not be snow but I would rather over prepare for the trip and leave stuff in the car if it is not needed. So, I appreciate any advice you might have to offer. Including answers to these questions as well as suggested reading (plug your book here) prior to the trip.

Thanks,
Kevin
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Joined: February 27th, 2004, 4:18 pm

February 16th, 2006, 11:19 pm #7

>>....
- Are crampons and ice axe necessary?
- Will I need snowshoes for the approach?
- What about boots - leather mountaineering boots or will light to mid-weight hikers do?
- Average temps look pretty cold at night - is a 4 season tent necessary?
<<

Crampons: don't plan on it. This is a very popular mountain, and it will get tracked out pretty well, even if snow is still present on main parts of the trail. Even in a heavy snow year, which could be this year still, the ridge will be clear by then, and that's where you'll be going anyway.

Snowshoes: definite NO.

Leather boots would be fine if you're comfortable walking in them. I've personally done Kings and others in nothing more than trail runners. If I knew I was going to be going through a lot of snow...nah, I'd still stick with lighter shoes since I've become spoiled by them. Go with whatever you like, and keep in mind that it is likely that you'll get your feet wet due to snow crossing (consolidated snow, but still snow), and mud negotiating. Every time I've gone through Henry's Fork, the willows just before Dollar Lake are bubbling with water from the Gilbert cirque, and mud is always present. Only on a few cold occasions in September have I seen this patch frozen in the early AM so you don't get dirty and/or soaked on your feet. I have seen quite a few shoes that were left in the mud when a foot pulled out. They're still there.

A four season tent would be fine if you have one, but it will be overkill in every sense of the word. While it is true that snow can fall at anytime of year, if it falls, it wont be enough to do anything bad to a 3 season tent. The winds are rarely a problem up there, plus there are tons of sheltered places to camp anyway in the trees.

It is mostly a long hike with a camp inbetween for most people. The primary bugger (besides Mosquitos) you should be concerned about in late June/ early July is lightning. From your campsite, get up EARLY and head up so you can get up and down before the boomers arrive. They usually start in the afternoon, but they can be known to strike in the AM too. Watch the skies and be prepared to bail if you start seeing stormy buildup ANYWHERE near you. Lightning is a big killer in the Uintas.

-ben
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Joined: February 16th, 2006, 3:05 pm

February 20th, 2006, 3:21 pm #8

Thanks for the information.

Prior to posting my initial query, I called the ranger station and they were very conservative in their response – much like the response markv received. They said “the upper mountain may not be accessible in late June” and that “you will probably need skis or snowshoes on the trail in” and “it will be wise to bring crampons and ice axe for the upper mountain”. My assumption is they are being overly conservative so they don’t get anyone in trouble.

Regarding the lightning, I read a little about it being a problem. I grew up in playing golf in FL and know about afternoon storms and the dangers of lightning. I will keep your advice in mind when we are on the trail. I certainly don’t want to be on an exposed ridge during a lighting storm!

Based on all of the feedback I have received, I plan on bringing my standard kit (several layers and Gore-Tex everything) and an extra layer of fleece. If the snow is heavy it just means we will posthole a little and have to take turns breaking trail. And, if the upper mountain is snowy we will kick steps and use trekking poles for balance. Sound like a reasonable plan?
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Joined: January 20th, 2004, 10:33 pm

February 21st, 2006, 4:34 pm #9

Ditto what Ben said. The only "technical gear" I would plan on would be waterproof boots and maybe gaiters, if this turns out to be a heavy snow year.

I would however, change "Snowshoes: definite NO." to snowshoes "No, except on rare occasions". I was sorry I didn't bring mine to the Uintas in early July 1998. Usually though, the snow is firm. I wouldn't worry about it.

Don't worry, just go. As long as you have waterproof boots, I wouldn't give it a second thought.
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