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Question: route near Pyramid Peak in Kings Canyon NP

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Question: route near Pyramid Peak in Kings Canyon NP

Postby tomba » Sat Sep 06, 2014 10:48 pm

I plan to do the following route in Kings Canyon National Park: Bench Lake, Arrow Pass, explore the drainage there and perhaps the drainage SE from there across a ridge spur from Pyramid Peak, cross to the drainage east from Pyramid Peak, Whitefork Saddle, cross the ridge between Crater Pass and Crater Mtn. Possibly in reverse direction.

Does anyone have experience going between west or SW of Pyramid Peak and the drainage east of it? It seems that to cross there one would have to summit Pyramid Peak. See route on this map link.

I found the following information:
http://www.summitpost.org/pyramid-peak-s/664054
http://climber.org/reports/2002/993.html

Secor rates west ridge as class 2, and northeast ridge as class 3. I am ok with class 3 with not too much exposure.
SummitPost rates west ridge, south face, and northeast ridge as class 2/3.
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Re: Question: route near Pyramid Peak in Kings Canyon NP

Postby maverick » Sun Sep 07, 2014 11:22 am

I have crossed over the shoulder of Pyramid Peak to get down to the trail west of
Castle Domes Meadow.
It was not very difficult, but route finding in the steeper lower sections takes time.
The thing that made the route more difficult than it should have been was the
leaves on the ground, it made things very slippery, especially in the some of the
steeper sections.
Why not just head to Explorer Pass, or the ridge between Arrow Lakes Basin and the
Window Lake drainage, from the bowl northeast of the large lake on the eastern end
of Arrow Lakes Basin?
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Re: Question: route near Pyramid Peak in Kings Canyon NP

Postby giantbrookie » Sun Sep 07, 2014 11:55 am

Even is one is OK with class 3, this looks to be class 3 with a full pack which will be more difficult, based on the route descriptions in Secor.

If I was in the Arrow Creek drainage and wanted to get to the Window Creek drainage, I'd cross the divide (ie the ridge that includes Pyramid Peak) near its northern end (ie well N of Pyramid Pk), either at the northernmost saddle (elev 3700+ m) or somewhere on either side where the topography permits (the very lowest point isn't necessarily the best crossing point). This is much less steep and is most likely to offer a class 2 route. In distance and climbing this isn't any worse than going over the top of Pyramid Peak and it appears to me to be much easier. The only reason for favoring a Pyramid Peak route to cross is if climbing Pyramid Peak is major objective itself.
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Re: Question: route near Pyramid Peak in Kings Canyon NP

Postby tomba » Sun Sep 07, 2014 5:56 pm

Thank you maverick and giantbrookie.

giantbrookie: Yes, this route that you suggest looks easier on the map. I guess I was trying to avoid backtracking from the Arrow Creek drainage and also trying to see the drainage SW from Pyramid Peak.

It will be with a full pack, solo. I can take it off and rope it down/up, as I have done a few times, but I prefer to avoid getting into such situations.

By the way, it seems that by "Window Creek" you mean the creek that flows through the large lake east from Window Peak (I think maverick called it Window Lake), but Secor seems to use this name for the creek west from Window Peak: "Climb over the southwest spur of Pyramid Peak and descend the slabby east side of the unnamed creek (known as "Window Creek)". This is labeled "Arrow Peak Descent 2" on the linked map.

maverick: I assume that you crossed the shoulder where it is labeled on the above map link as "Arrow Creek Descent 1" and went down through "Arrow Creek Descent 2". I assume leaves were at lower elevation, not at 3300-3700m of the route drawn on the map in the original post. I don't plan to go down to Woods Creek.

If I head to Explorer Pass I would miss some basins or I would have to backtrack. The ridge you describe, between Arrow Lakes Basin and the Window Lake drainage seems to be the same as what giantbrookie suggested, shown in the map linked in this post above, and it seems to be a good idea.
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Re: Question: route near Pyramid Peak in Kings Canyon NP

Postby giantbrookie » Sun Sep 07, 2014 7:51 pm

OK if the basin SW of Pyramid is a priority then your chosen route is probably your best option. If on the other hand, that particular sub basin is not as high a priority as the Arrow Creek drainage (which is quite nice) and what I called Window Creek for lack of a better term (the drainage E of Pyramid and Window Pks), then it is not that much extra backtracking to go over the northern pass from the lower Arrow Creek lakes because the degree of difficulty is lower and the actual crossing point in elevation is lower (so your hiking time would be less going the northern route because the degree of difficulty and elevation gain is less). The drainage E of Pyramid and Window Pks is very pretty and the big lake that most call "Window Peak Lake" or "Window Lake" is, at least to my own tastes, one of the most beautiful lakes in the High Sierra, so it is worth heading downstream in that basin to this lake before once again heading north a bit to cross into the next drainage of the east.

As a side note, I have not done that pass I mention; I just figure it looks topographically reasonable--I visited the two basins on separate days of the same trip in 1997: "Window Pk Lake" area on a long dayhike from Twin Lakes and the Arrow Creek basin on a dayhike several days later from Bench Lake that also included a hike up Arrow Pk.
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Re: Question: route near Pyramid Peak in Kings Canyon NP

Postby tomba » Tue Sep 09, 2014 11:36 pm

The pass you mention looks steep. Some micro-cliffs are visible at one side.
near-pyramid-peak.kml
(1.73 KiB) Downloaded 36 times
Open the above attachment and it should show the view in Google Earth if it is installed. If it is not installed, see satellite view.

I plan to reverse the route, and arrive from east. This way there are three nearby choices: Over the top of Pyramid Peak, over the above pass, or over Explorer Pass.
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Re: Question: route near Pyramid Peak in Kings Canyon NP

Postby tomba » Sat Sep 27, 2014 10:32 pm

I ended up going roughly this way, east to west. Finding a route to gain the ridge was not easy. At one point I had to take the pack off, climb class 3, and hoist the pack up by a rope. Unexpectedly, it was too precarious to put the pack on, so I had to shuffle to a wider spot while holding the pack in my hands.

Following giantbrookie's advice, I camped at "Window Lake" the night before - quite nice.

This was a part of a 9 day trip: Sawmill Pass, lakes near Woods Lake, Pinchot Pass, Crater Pass, Whitefork Saddle, Arrow Pass, Cartridge Pass, a day in Lakes Basin, Vennacher Col (not hard), lakes on west side of Upper Basin, lakes below Mt. Pinchot, lakes SE from Pinchot Pass, Armstrong Col, Armstrong Canyon (with a well preserved plane wreck).
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