Forum Index > Trip Reports > Kyes Peak Attempt - Sunday September 6
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NBL
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PostTue Sep 08, 2020 10:04 am 
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Hello to all the forum regulars! My name is Nick and I'm a long time lurker and fan of all the stoke and top quality trip beta this community creates. Figured it's time to plug in, say hello, and participate. I mostly solo hike because I don't have many friends into the hiking/climbing scene outside of shorter recreational day hikes. Hoping to make some new friends and tag along on some more epic adventures.

Kyes has been on my radar since the first time I visited Blanca Lake. It has a solid reputation as a strenuous single day outing and only having one day to dedicate to the challenge over the holiday weekend I figured I'd wake up early and give it a whirl.

Woke up at 5:00 in West Seattle and arrived at the Blanca Lake trail head around 7:30 am, full of sausage mcmuffin from the Monroe McDonalds, and made Virgin Lake by 9:00. Trail was as busy as you'd expect. I was carrying 2L of water in a hydration bag and an additional 1L in a Nalgene as my back up. Didn't think I consumed that much water on the trail up to Virgin Lake and didn't filter water as Virgin Lake is a disgusting swamp this time of year...I had a track uploaded to Gaia which made it easier to spot the turnoff to Kyes, and up I went.


The first bit of 'trail' is easy enough to follow once your eyes adapt to know what to look for. It's faint but there, but quite overgrown this time of year. Eventually you hit a pleasant meadow that looks like it might be swampy earlier in the season. Then you head up onto the steep Eastern side of the ridge on the way to Kyes where I encountered my first sketchy sidehilling and more vertical stretches of trail as you inch your way north and gain elevation. Veggie belay tree friends helpful in this stretch.


You have a nice flat stretch and another nice meadow for a bit, including epic views from Glacier Peak all the way back to Mount Daniel. Columbia Peak and Columbia Glacier come into view and the scale of the basin below with Blanca Lake really comes into view. Kyes Peak itself is blocked by the ridge tops between this location and the summit.


Then I crossed over onto the Western side of the ridge (the Eastern side becomes just straight cliffs at this point), and did another sketchy side hill descent down to a boulder field. Looks like there is running water here earlier in the year but was dry as a bone this weekend. Only water sources left must be closer to the remaining snow fields near the summit.


After the boulder field there is a decent stretch of steep side hill bushwhacking that ate a lot of time off the clock. It was probably 11:30 by this time and I was fighting my way north through a maze of baby pine trees and slippery blueberry bushes. Lots of cursing and muttering. Highly recommend bringing leather gardening gloves for this section, really helps protect the hands during all the frantic branch grabbing. I would find out later on my descent that there is a much better 'path' through this section at a slightly higher elevation that would have saved me a lot of time and energy.

Eventually you get out of bushwhack land and find a decent trail again and start going up up up. Just below 6000' I hit my turnaround time at 13:00 and knew I didn't have enough time to summit and still make it back down so I decided to call it. I was also nearly out of water by this point, having consumed 3L in total and unsure if there was a water source above me and knowing my next guaranteed water source was swampy Virgin Lake several hours below me.


It took me about three hours to get back to Virgin Lake, including a small snack break I took on a rocky peak I named 'Consolation Peak' which afforded great 360 views of the Columbia Peak massif, Columbia Glacier, Kyes, and every peak I could see in just about every direction. I had to backtrack several times on my descent as the trail proved easier to lose in sections going down than coming up. I also got cliffed out for the first time in my life and had a sketchy tree-assisted backtrack to safety and some route finding challenges to get back onto the 'trail.'


I held my nose and filtered 2L of water at Virgin Lake (thank you, water filtering tech!) and cruised back to the car in about an hour. Typical traffic on 2 heading west meant I got home at almost 21:00, for a sixteen hour door to door day. Total moving time on the trail was 9:13, 10.41 miles, 4,391' ascent. My speed slowed massively above Virgin Lake from like 28:00/hour to like over 50:00/hour. Massively underestimated how long I would need! Solid adventure up above Blanca Lake. Next time I think I'll either need to leave 2-3 hours earlier or plan on camping at Virgin Lake or plan to bivvy near the summit (I've seen other TRs where people have done this and it looks pretty epic).
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Tom
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PostTue Sep 08, 2020 3:35 pm 
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Too bad you didn't summit but all the more reason to go back.  Yes, no sense camping at Virgin Lake when there are epic bivy spots below the summit.  One of my all time favorite summits and memorable camps.
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NowIFly
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PostWed Sep 09, 2020 7:39 am 
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Thanks for the report! I'm looking forward to climbing Keyes! Great looking area!
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NBL
West Seattle Based



Joined: 08 Sep 2020
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West Seattle Based
PostWed Sep 09, 2020 8:33 am 
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Poor planning on my part, should have left my place at 3:00 but oh well. Armed with some first hand beta I'm looking forward to a summit bivy next time, hopefully with some amigos. That area is 360 gorgeous in every direction.
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kitya
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PostWed Sep 09, 2020 11:37 am 
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Kyes is nice, except for the busy trail to Virgin lake. Maybe it is better to go earlier in the season. Me and the 9 year old dog Cookie went there a month before you and it took us 12 hours there and back, but we spent almost an hour at the summit celebrating the dog's birthday. I started at the trailhead at 7:30 and was back at the trailhead at 7:30 pm, still with plenty of day time at that time. Maybe there was still more snow at that time too, so it helped avoid some of the nasty rocks.

http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8032335
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NBL
West Seattle Based



Joined: 08 Sep 2020
Posts: 16 | TRs
Location: 98126
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West Seattle Based
PostWed Sep 09, 2020 2:13 pm 
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I remember your TR! I am constantly surprised by the trails dogs can easily ascend and descend. Congrats to you both! I needed about three more hours than I had to get it done and no part of me wanted to be above Virgin Lake after dark getting turned around on the trail.
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Celticclimber
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PostWed Sep 09, 2020 3:25 pm 
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Way back in 97 I tried to make Kyes as well.
And I'm pretty sure I went the same way as you.
That meadow looks familiar.
Got as far as some little knob called Goblin. When I hit my turn around time.
(And good on you for sticking to yours).

I just remember it being a no direct, nasty,brushy, cliffy scramble.

So here's a thought for all you Blanca Lake fans.
Way back in the 20's.  Me granddad (who was a logger back then)
Went into Glacier Basin. Up and over the pass.Down the Columbia Gl.
Caught a logging train into Index.Then took another back to Goldbar.
I've always wanted to do that. But life sorta got in the way.
But if anyone does do it.
Let me know.

--------------
Live every day like you will die to-marrow.
For some day that will be true.
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Monkey Del Mar
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Joined: 04 Sep 2007
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Class 2 my ass!
PostWed Sep 09, 2020 6:54 pm 
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This is an easy one to underestimate!

Back when I climbed Kyes (16 years ago almost to the date...feel so old saying that!) my "trustworthy" guidebook said it was "5 to 6 hours" trailhead to summit.  Given that I had generally done other trips in under the book's estimate, I thought I had more than plenty of time when I started around 8am.

Long story, even though I did summit, I was *so* glad to make it down to Virgin "Lake" just as it got dark, almost an hour after sunset.  Had a rest nap, food, and water, and exited via the established trail under headlamp.  At least I was the only person on the mountain, all day.

Gorgeous area and views; hope you make it back to enjoy it fully!
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NBL
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Posts: 16 | TRs
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West Seattle Based
PostThu Sep 10, 2020 7:56 am 
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I'll definitely be back. Sometimes I think of myself as the king of bailing but I almost always make it back eventually to finish them off. King of multiple attempts more like it.
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