TR: KCHBR- Kings Canyon High Basin Route, 2018

Discussion in 'Trips Reports' started by Cameron M, Feb 10, 2019.

  1. Cameron M

    Cameron M Summit Camper

    KCHBR- Kings Canyon High Basin Route, 2018. 22 days, 186 miles, 58,000’ ascent.

    The Kings Canyon High Basin Route (KCHBR) was conceived by Andrew Skurka. In the summer of 2018 I walked my version of the KCHBR, broken up into three sections, in June, July and August. For my version I added extra mileage to include a more northern destination, the annual meet-up of the HighSierraTopix.com website, and I did not walk the last leg of Skurka’s route as it nearly duplicates what I walked the previous summer when I completed the Sierra High Route (SHR). My trip took a total of 22 days, where I traveled 186 miles and climbed 58',000’. I trained reasonably hard for several months in advance, including climbing over 22,000’ of local peaks, running up 1,600 steps every day for months, and completing a quick 67 mile hike in March. I post a summary here but invite you to visit my website to see the complete report:

    https://www.trailnamebackstroke.com/kchbr/

    KCHBR-2018-ANNOTATED-MAP.jpg
    KCHBR-AERIAL.jpg
    For the first section in June I chose a loop to depart from Lodgepole and end up at the Cedar Grove/Road’s End trailhead. This meant I had to first drive to Lodgepole to get my permit, then drive to and leave my car at the Road’s End trailhead, and then hitchhike back to Lodgepole to start my trek.
    KCHBR_6176.jpg
    I reached the top of Longley Pass to find a massive overhanging snow cornice. No way I am dropping over it, and there is no acceptable way to climb around it. Yes, if I had a super-compelling reason and absolutely had to descend here, I could have done it, but I preferred to live to tell about it, and decided to change my route by backtracking back down the hill.
    KCHBR_6217.jpg
    Dramatic evidence of a hungry bear at the Roaring River ranger station.
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    For the second section in July I entered at McGee Pass so I could spend some time up north and to visit the Highsierratopix meet-up. Along the way I attempted the Red and White and Red Slate mountains. At the top of the first ridge for Red and White I discovered a nasty bit of steep snow along the ridge to the peak. I did not bring traction and was unprepared for this final surprise. With this warm weather I could have probably kick stepped into the snow along the ridge, but it was still too funky for me, and I elected to quit.
    KCHBR_6797.jpg
    The next morning after the meet-up, Rich, his dog Beau and I departed south off-trail to seek the Laurel Creek trail. It was fun to see Beau negotiate some difficult terrain.
    KCHBR_6853.jpg
    I continued south up Goddard Canyon and reached Martha Lake. At 11,000’ the terrain became a moonscape.
    KCHBR_6891.jpg
    The view from Mount Goddard of the Ionian Basin.
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    There is something special and "prehistoric" about this place. I particularly enjoyed all the small ponds of captured water.
    KCHBR-section-3-profile.png
    In August I completed the third section of the route, traveling north from Onion Valley to South Lake. This section is the most similar to the SHR in that it features many high passes.
    KCHBR_7203.jpg
    I arrived at King Col, which seemed fairly standard on the approach. However the descent is nasty where there are very few dependable stable rocks. My usual method in these cases is to make to one side and do my best to have a controlled climb down. This one is more difficult than most.
    KCHBR_7322.jpg
    My La Sportiva TX3’s rapidly disintegrated, and contrary to urban legend, duck tape is not good enough, I needed to do some sewing. I made it down to Palisade Creek and the JMT to exit once again at South Lake. The trip was everything I had hoped for, and I learned more about Kings Canyon. There were a few times where it went from “challenging” to downright “hard”. No doubt, it is a tough route. Still, it made for a memorable summer.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2019
    rikdon, Shewie, Munro277 and 9 others like this.
  2. edh

    edh Thru Hiker

    Looking forward to reading the whole thing later
    Dave V likes this.
  3. Dave V

    Dave V Moderator Staff Member

    Photos look amazing, I'll have a propper read when I wake up (night shift)
  4. maddogs

    maddogs Trail Blazer

    I saved that one for a quality half hour with a cuppa. Truly superb! thanks for sharing :)
  5. Teepee

    Teepee Thru Hiker

    Jaw dropping throughout...what a hike and series of images.

    Thanks so much for posting.
  6. Shewie

    Shewie Administrator Staff Member

    Great stuff Cameron

    I’ll read the full report when I get on a PC later

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