Mike has been busy bagging peaks this week so I guess I'll be writing this TR. Kyes is a long and strenuous day trip so we decided to do it as an overnight. After a late start we hit the Blanca Lake trail a little before noon. Took our time on the way up to Virgin Lake, feasting on ripe berries. After a quick lunch at Virgin Lake we found the obvious boot path up the ridge and followed it all the way to the pass below point 5845'. Here we left the boot path, dropped to the talus below and sidehilled (on steep slopes) to the pass on the other side where we rejoined the boot path and followed it up the steep ridge until it breaks out at around 6100'. After filtering some snowmelt (the first water since Virgin Lake) we ascended on pumice sized scree towards the pass just left of what Mike called "the sharkfin". From here the true summit is visible and the approach is straight forward.
From the pass we rose above the low cloud layer to a magical scene just below the summit as the sun set to the west. After getting his fill of pictures Mike continued up to the summit while I snapped away in the fading light, opting to save the summit for the next morning. After Mike returned from the summit we scoped out the slabs below looking for a spot to camp and settled on a nice level slab next to running water. I gathered rocks to anchor tent stakes while iPhone Mike posted some facebook entries and cooked dinner. Headed up to the summit the next morning and took our time on the way out. As always, I took too many pictures...
Nice work, dudes. Your trip sounded a lot more reasonable than ours -- more time to savor, fewer bugs, great routefinding choices. But next time can you just take one spectacular photo? Your set is sending me into anaphylactic shock. A person can die of too many stunning images!
We slept in and got started late, leaving the trailhead a little before noon. The trip up to Virgin was quick and painless, roughly two hours -- any dawdling was entirely due to the massive berries that lined either side of the trail.
(There's a reason it's called Virgin Lake. That thing is so ugly, *no one* would sleep with it.)
The trail up from Virgin was in decent shape. Traversing around and then up the first rocky outcropping was pretty wild. That's one mean stretch of "trail".
The reports of the horrible "trail" over 5845' effectively scared us away from it on the way in, and the sidehilling commenced. I realized quickly just how threadbare and worn my soles on my shoes are, as they really didn't stick too well to the steep heather, grass, and blueberry bushes... I fell and ripped open the stitches in my shin just 3 minutes into the descent / traverse. Needless to say, I did a lot of swearing and sliding as we worked our way across the slope.
The rest of the route went pretty well. We exited to the left a little before the top and avoided the scrubby brush on the ridgeline we ended up hitting on the way back. The summit block was a little dirty, but not horrible.
-------------- "There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." -P.J. O'Rourke
"Ignorance is natural. Stupidity takes commitment." -Solomon Short
I was cleaning off my card getting ready for another hike and discovered I hadn't downloaded all my pics. Here's another shot of Point 5845' on the return and sidehilling the slopes below it. Gives a pretty good perspective of how steep it and how much Mike was loving it. I still think it was better to sidehill below than mess with the ridge.
I did Keyes as a student in the Mounties scramble class back in the day when few did this and there definitely was no boot path. On the way in I lost a bandana. On the way out the leader (Clint Kelly) exactly retraced our steps and, yup, there was the missing bandana snagged up on some brush.
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