Kyes Peak
Nov 2, 2019
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Kyes peak was one that I approached out of ease of access and the ability to climb late in the year. I had seen it from my climb of Columbia peak, though I had never contemplated ascending it. After a few weekday searches turned it up as a good outing I decided it was worth a shot. After climbing it I wish it had been on my radar sooner. But, with so many incredible peaks at our doorstep it is easy to understand how it escapes a climbers vision.

virgin lake along blanca lake trail
Virgin Lake
first view of glacier peak from the kyes peak climbing route route
First view of glacier Peak

The climbing for Kyes peak starts immediately after leaving the Blanca Lake trailhead. About 100 feet into the woods the switchbacks start and continue for around 1800 feet until you top out on a ridge. Here you get your first limited views of the day. Another short jaunt brings you to Virgin Lake. Parts of this route at the time of this writing are extremely icy. Take care and bring some micro spikes.

Keep your eye out after rounding Virgin lake. There is a faint climbers trail for Kyes Peak heading off into the woods. If you start heading downhill toward Blanca lake, you have gone too far.

first view south from the kyes peak climbing route
First View South
Columbia peak viewed from the kyes peak climbing route
Columbia Peak From the route
first snow field along the kyes peak climbing route
First snow field I encountered

The first part of the Kyes peak climbing trail follows along a ridge. There is a mix of scrambling, bush-whacking, and hiking. The only thing I found particularly difficult about this section was how steep it gets.

There are considerable amounts of brush in the way and with some snow, on the ground it was tough to get a foothold. Until you approach point 5845 try your best to stay climbers right on the ridge. Follow the few spots you can find with a faint climbers trail.

Once you come upon point 5845, work your way climbers left along the ridge and down into the basin. I will admit that I failed to follow the trail in a few spots. I managed to find it on the way down. If you encounter anything harder than class 3 before point 5845 reassess your route.

cairn along the kyes peak climbing route
Cairn Marking the route
snowy ridgeline traverse along kyes peak climbing route
Snowy ridge traverse
looking down on blanca lake from kyes peak's ridge line
looking down on blanca lake

After some time and the climbing of two steep hills I arrived at the boulder field that lies on the side of Kyes peak. It was snow-covered but the two people that had been in front of me all day had made some fresh tracks in the snow. As luck would have it, I ran into them as they were retreating from the upper area.

During our brief conversation they informed me that they had stopped at point 7025. They felt that the snow was softening and making conditions too dangerous to advance. I went up anyway to see for myself if I could reach the summit.

false summit of kyes peak
false summit of kyes peak
kyes peak viewed from upper scramble route
Kyes peak from scramble route

From the boulder field area, I will let the video I made speak for itself. There is a lot of exposure, some scrambling and at this time of year a fair amount of snow to deal with. Some of it permanent hard snow. Some of it that soft sliding mid-day slush we all come to hate at some point on our mountaineering journeys.

Kyes peak is one of those peaks in Washington that pushes the boundary between scrambling and mountaineering. If you go up there, know your skills, you will need them. I was solo and not using a rope. But, I did see other groups carrying them. Not sure if they came in handy or not. Certainly wouldn’t have minded a rappel off the summit though…

For a few other great challenges in the area you can always check out Columbia, Silvertip, Cadet,, or Del Campo

tree at silhouetted at sunset
silhouetted tree on decent
sunset along kyes peak ridge line
sunset along the ridge
kyes peak and columbia peak at sunset
kyes and columbia at sunset
glacier peak at sunset from the blanca lake trail
glacier peak at sunset

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