Ascent to Kings Peak-Gunsight pass on 2012-07-13

Climber: Dave Dunham

Others in Party:Eric Morse
Date:Friday, July 13, 2012
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Point Reached:Kings Peak - Gunsight pass
    Elevation:11888 ft / 3623 m
    Remaining Elevation:1640 ft / 500 m (30% left to go)

Ascent Trip Report

Sometimes things just don’t go the way you planned, such was the case last weekend. Eric and I headed out to Utah with the goal being the state high point (King’s Peak – 13,528’). I was aiming for my 42nd state high point and Eric was looking for his 24th. The trip would be a short one with little room for problems. The ascent would be a tough one covering 28 miles round trip with over 4,000’ of climb and descent.

Things started well with a nice 6 mile run at Eric’s prior to our flight. The first leg to Washington DC went fine but upon arrival we found out that our out-bound flight to Salt Lake City was delayed. After finally boarding a couple of hours late some issue with “rotten food” held us up and by 9 PM the flight was cancelled. We were given a hotel room but didn’t get in until 11 pm and we needed to be on a shuttle back to the airport at 4:30 am. It was a very short night. On Friday we got to the airport and found that our 7 am flight was delayed. We began to do the math and arguments to just head home didn’t sound unreasonable. The flight finally left at close to 9am (7am Utah time) which was later than we’d hoped to be out on the trail!

Once we landed and got our rental car I drove as quickly as possible to the trailhead, and we gathered our gear and were ready to roll at 2:00 PM. Unfortunately we were well past the time we’d planned to be coming DOWN from the summit. We had six hours of usable sunlight and we both knew that descending the rocky trail after dark on too little sleep could be dangerous. So, starting out slowly from the 8,000’ trailhead we’d already decided that the furthest we’d run would be three hours. Peakbagging is fun, but the number 1 goal is always to get out safely.

We headed off at a trot settling into a good rhythm in the early miles. Every 30 minutes or so we traded the lead and I took a gel every hour along with water as needed. Our pace was slow (for us) but steady. We hit the river crossing (5.5 miles) in 1:05 and although neither of us said it we both knew the summit would be out of reach.

We got to Gunsight pass at 10.5 miles (11,888’) in 2:14 and took our first break of the day. We discussed options and decided to go to 2:30 then turn. That gave us a clear view of the final push we’d need to do when we come back to the mountain some day.

The run back went okay but both of us were fatigued, the lack of sleep was definitely an issue but even under optimal circumstances this would be a long tough run. Even with the steady downhill we only came back slightly faster than the ascent. That is typical as neither of us would be called proficient at downhill running. We were extremely cautious as the day wore on (we’d been on the go for 19 hours) and we found ourselves back at the trailhead in 4:51.

All in all it was a fun trip but disappointing to not reach the high point. We’ll be back out there again next summer and may combine it with a trip to Idaho. As always, I’m looking forward to the next adventure!

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3888 ft / 1185 m
    Total Elevation Loss:8000 ft / 2438 m
    Round-Trip Distance:22 mi / 35.4 km
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Weather:Hot, Calm, Clear
80's and warm in the sun
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3888 ft / 1185 m
    Distance:11 mi / 17.7 km
    Start Trailhead:Henry's fork trailhead  8000 ft / 2438 m
    Time:2 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:8000 ft / 2438 m
    Distance:11 mi / 17.7 km
    End Trailhead:Henry's fork trailhead  3888 ft / 1185 m
    Time:2 Hours 21 Minutes

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