King’s Peak: Utah’s Highest Point

Kings peak utah

King’s Peak (13,528′) is a long multi-day trip with long trails and class 2 scrambling at the peak. We thought it would be a 3-day trip. However, it ended up being a very long 2-day trip. My climbing partner and I decided we would rather go home and have a day off to rest. As we did not want to attempt to go straight back to work. Needless to say, I slept in until noon. My legs felt so sore that I fell over trying to stand up out of bed. That’s what I get for not training beforehand.

We began our adventure on a Saturday by driving the 3 hours from Salt Lake to the Henry’s Fork Trail Head. (Believe it or not but you have to go through Wyoming to get there.) Both of us started hiking with our heavy packs. My climbing partner and I burned through 5 1/2 miles of trail in around 2 hours. It was hot, and there were mosquitoes everywhere, and naturally, we forgot to pack bug spray. We slowed down after crossing the main foot-bridge that spans the Henry Fork River as the trail steepened and were getting tired.

Henry's Fork Basin

Henry’s Fork Basin

After another 3 hours we made it to about 11,500 feet and set up camp. We made a quick pasta meal, and attempted to fall asleep. Knowing we had a long early day ahead of us.

We woke up around 5:15 am and watched the sunrise, ate breakfast, and began getting ready for our day. We climbed to 12,000 feet to Gunsight Pass where we left the main route to follow a well known shortcut route that would shave 4 miles off our total distance. As much as everyone praises this shortcut, I beg to differ. It was well cairned for the first 1/3 of a mile. However, after the trail flattened out into a field, the cairns were incredibly far apart and hard to keep track of. Even getting a little off track wasn’t bad because it was very easy to see where to go since the main trail went up the far side of the field.

The scrambling and boulder hopping on the ridge were nothing new to me, however, there was a lot of it. A full mile and 1,000 feet of elevation gain were full of rocks, rocks and more rocks. Knowing my own personal pace, I assumed that last mile would take about an hour. As there was a lot of the scrambling and boulder hopping. It took nearly 2 hours instead to reach the summit. Finally, we arrived at 13,528 feet, and what a relief.

The way back down was exhausting. Stepping ever so carefully from rock to rock. Controlling every move (which is why my legs are so sore) and trying not to worsen my blisters that had formed the day before.

We were already exhausted, by the time we got back to camp; my ankles bruised from trying to manipulate the rocks in high-top hiking boots. We talked about staying the second night anyway but the nearest water source was a mile down the hill and we were out of the water. We decided to just take it slow. Stop to filter and refill water bottles at the stream down the trail. We even wore flip flops on our way down. It was 9 miles back to the car and yes, I did it in flip flops. My ankles were so bruised and my blisters had popped despite my best efforts, so it was actually more comfortable to hike down without boots on. It was slow going and we were completely exhausted by the time we got back to the car since we spent 15 hours of our day on foot.

I am glad I finally got to cross this one off my list, but it was definitely the hardest climb, physically, that I have ever done. Will I do it again? probably not, but who knows. I have bigger and better mountains planned and this was a good test of my physicality to see what I specifically need to train better in the future (and its apparently my calves).

Read more trip reports like this at

 Jacque Tietjien wrote this article

Featured Photo credit: mypubliclands on Visualhunt / CC BY

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