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Information on Black Kaweah East Ridge

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Information on Black Kaweah East Ridge

Postby alpinemike » Fri Apr 11, 2014 6:16 pm

The Black Kaweah is certainly living up to it's reputation of not seeing a lot of visitors as I have been scouring around the forums here and online to get some information about the East Ridge of Black Kaweah. And I haven't found much. I have Secor's book but it would be nice to hear from someone who has done it or at least been in the area to give me a heads up about what I'm facing.

My plan is to climb it from Pyra-Queen Col if that's possible. I'm not sure how I would get to the saddle that I've heard about that is located between Black Kaweah and Pyramidal Pinnacle. Would I have to access it directly from lake 11.682 or could I traverse from the Col? My plan is to climb Kaweah Queen first and then Black Kaweah.

Also a quick question about Mt. Kaweah and the East Ridge Route. Since I plan on going into Kaweah Basin from Pyra-Queen Col and exploring for a bit I would like to summit Mt. Kaweah as well. Can anyone confirm Secor's advice about climbing the ridge from the south side of the lake directly below the pass? I'm sure it will be obvious when I'm there but I'd love to know if anyone has done this route as it seems it is infrequently used due to the nastiness of Kaweah Pass itself.

I am quite confident in my class 3 abilities and am capable on class 4 terrain.

Thank you for any advice and information!
Never put off a backpacking trip for tomorrow, if you can do it today...
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Re: Information on Black Kaweah East Ridge

Postby maverick » Fri Apr 11, 2014 6:31 pm

Have done PQC and Mt. Kaweah, but not Black. See if any of these give you the
information you see to make a more educated decision.
http://drdirtbag.wordpress.com/2012/09/ ... ack-19h05/
http://www.summitpost.org/black-kaweah/150911
http://www.ugcs.caltech.edu/~alpine/wiki/Black_Kaweah
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Re: Information on Black Kaweah East Ridge

Postby alpinemike » Fri Apr 11, 2014 8:12 pm

Thank you Maverick for the links. Also thank you for the PM you responded to. I've been busy with school and that's why I haven't been able to get back to you. I appreciated the advice and knowledge.

Unfortunately I've seen all of these links and none of them really give a good account of what to expect on the East Ridge other than class 4 and that notch between Pyramidal and Black Kaweah. Normally I wouldn't be as concerned and just checkout out the area when I'm there but since it is The Kaweah's and specifically The Black Kaweah I want as much information about the routes and the safety concerns as I can get. If there's any peak that was has intimidated me it's the infamous Black Kaweah. I can only imagine what the first climbers faced back in 1920. I've read to stay quite away from the West Ridge because of the awful quality of the rock. And since I'll be alone (or at least as of now I am) I want to have as much knowledge as possible to make my decisions. I will have a satellite phone though.
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Re: Information on Black Kaweah East Ridge

Postby maverick » Sat Apr 12, 2014 2:57 pm

When are you planning this trip for Mike?
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Re: Information on Black Kaweah East Ridge

Postby alpinemike » Sat Apr 12, 2014 3:24 pm

Responded to your PM.
Never put off a backpacking trip for tomorrow, if you can do it today...
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Re: Information on Black Kaweah East Ridge

Postby alpinemike » Sun Apr 13, 2014 1:55 pm

After reading general reports about Black Kaweah (None of which included the Class 4 East ridge... Starting to think it's only been done a handful of times) I am going to save the climb for when I have a partner to do it with. The mountain seems a bit too over my level to be done alone.
Never put off a backpacking trip for tomorrow, if you can do it today...
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Re: Information on Black Kaweah East Ridge

Postby Jim F » Sun Apr 13, 2014 6:37 pm

Alpine Mike,

As you observed in Secor's book, the East Ridge can apparently be reached from Lake 11682 by heading for the low point of the ridge connecting Black Kaweah with Pyramidal Pinnacle. In 1955 Carl Heller and Robert Stein summited Black Kaweah by this route for a FA.

One of the late Carl Heller's climbing partners was Bob Rockwell. Bob has considerable experience in the Kaweahs and keeps good notes. If you contact Bob, it is possible he will have information which could be of use to you. These days you can probably make contact with Bob through one of these organizations:

China Lake Mountain Rescue Group -Like Carl Heller, Bob is an icon here.

Inyo NF-Bob is a Volunteer Ranger in the Whitney Zone. Call the rangers at the Visitor Center to see if they know of Bob's current whereabouts.

Don't give up on trying to get a handle on this route. The lack of easy information will only make your ascent more rewarding. Perhaps you will even pioneer a new route!

Jim F

PS-Bob has been climbing in the High Sierras (and elsewhere) since his first ascent of Mt Whitney in 1952 (from whose summit he observed an A Bomb explode at sunrise in the Nevada desert).
My most recent encounter with him was last summer near Mirror Lake where he was leading a CLMRG Mountaineering Class.
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Re: Information on Black Kaweah East Ridge

Postby alpinemike » Mon Apr 14, 2014 7:14 pm

Thank you Jim for the info. I'll have to look into it. But for this trip I've decided it's best to skip on Black Kaweah.. As much as I'd love to summit I think with my experience level at the moment I should play it on the safe side.
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Re: Information on Black Kaweah East Ridge

Postby maverick » Mon Apr 14, 2014 9:30 pm

Wise call Mike, when in doubt, reassess. Black Kaweah isn't going any where.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Information on Black Kaweah East Ridge

Postby RoguePhotonic » Tue Apr 15, 2014 10:42 pm

I've done plenty of class 3 and done some class 4 and 5. I looked through the photos I have of the East Ridge of Black Kaweah I took from both Lawson and Kaweah Queen and nothing I have ever done give me any confidence at all at making such a traverse. Especially not on the horrible quality of rock that is all of the Kaweahs. The approach from Pyra Queen Col looks especially bad.

You can look through this set of images for yourself. If you go to the option of all sizes that FlickR has you can go to the original size and zoom in for detail.
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Re: Information on Black Kaweah East Ridge

Postby alpinemike » Tue Apr 15, 2014 11:44 pm

Thank you for the photos Rogue. I've actually looked at them many times before exploring the areas through your travels. While looking at that photo that you took from Kaweah Queen looking SW at Black Kaweah it really does show the awfulness of that ridge traverse. I'll be staying away from it. I really do think only a handful of people have done that route as the rock looks even nastier than the West Ridge (which is also not fun to say the least). I noticed on your itinerary for this year you plan on climbing it. I'm assuming you'll be taking the standard Southwest route on it..?
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Re: Information on Black Kaweah East Ridge

Postby RoguePhotonic » Wed Apr 16, 2014 12:00 am

Yeah I plan to camp again at the lake below Red Kaweah to do it and then hike around the ridge to take the SW approach of Black Kaweah. Hopefully I can pull them off. I don't need to be like Clint Eastwood on the Eiger Sanction saying "I tried to climb it twice and it tried to kill me twice" :D
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