Hockett Peak, Kid Mountain, The Miter
By: Doug Bear
No, this was not a scheduled trip! Just wanted to share some information on a few Sierra summits I visited in 2001. Although "unlisted", they are still worthwhile, seldom visited peaks, and I enjoyed each of them. HOCKEIT PK. was climbed in conjunction with Angora and Coyote. On a hot afternoon in mid June, I started at the Jerkey T.H. just north of Lloyd Meadows. The unmaintained "cutoff" trail climbs steeply to Jerkey Mdw., and is preferable to the maintained meandering one. Then it's downhill to the Little Kern, which is crossed via a suspension bridge. I then went east and north on trail to Trout Meadows Forest Station, a dilapidated, but sometimes manned cabin, 6.5 miles from the car. There is a spring there, which came in handy as water was scarce in the vicinity. I prepared dinner on one of the picnic tables, slept under the stars on a thick bed of pine needles, and was often awakened by the loud calls of nocturnal beasts. The next morning I set off for Hockett Pk., a wild, densely forested, remote summit. The old trail to Hockett Mdws. (shown on the 15' topo) has been reclaimed by vegetation, and cross-country traveling through rugged forest is required to bag this one. I walked across Trout Mdw., then up (brushy) to the SW ridge of Pk. 8,344'. Above 7,000 feet, the pines begin to outnumber the bushes, and the going is easier. I followed the ridge as it curved east and up to peak 8,344' and signed the register. Hockett Peak is visible from the summit, and a brief walk through dense forest brought me there. Some of the trees on top had been cut down (I have no idea why). I found a 20 year old Barbara Lilley and Gordon MacLeod register which hadn't been signed in 3 years. The summit views included Red and Mt. Kaweah. The round trip stats for this peak (from the Jerkey Parking lot) are 18-19 miles with 5,000' gain. The final 3 miles to the peak can be a navigational challenge. I don't think there's an easier way than the one I described here. KID MTN. was climbed in July from Sage Flat. I had hoped to see a Norman Clyde register there. Kid Mtn. was his final "first ascent of a peak" (1940). I searched all the rock piles and found no register save the lid of an old tobacco tin. Anyhow, there are two ways across the major obstacle, Big Pine Creek - a drive across bridge at Glacier Lodge, and a footbridge at Sage Flat Campground. Above that the slopes appear brushy, but it's low (knee high) stuff and not too troublesome. A lot of it is avoidable by looking around as you go. There are some delightful foxtail pines along the higher slopes. The last 1,000 feet of gain is easy walking in sand and gravel with occasional talus. The views on top include the awesome Middle Palisade and Norman Clyde Peak. The round trip stats are (from Sage Flat CG) 5-6 miles r-t with 4,400' gain via the class 1-2 north slopes. THE MITER was visited in August. It is an excellent peak and a very nice climb. It is a bit of a way in, but I was camped at Sky Blue Lake, and it was something to behold. It looks like a granite rendition of a headdress worn by a Pope or Bishop (thus its name). I decided to try to climb it.
All sides of the peak appear to be 5" class except for one - the NW Chute. From the drainage NE of Sky Blue Lake, slog up the NW Chute alluvium to the 3,820 meter contour interval, then turn right (South) to the base of the upper chute, which looks like a steep set of stairs with a headwall at the top at this point. The final 200 feet went like this: climb up easy class 3 ledges for 80-100 feet until everything looks quite steep. Work right (West) on good ledges out onto the arete. Climb up the arete on big beautiful blocks for maybe 80-100 more feet of vertical (at one point ducking through a tunnel) as the arete curves left and flattens out. Move over more enormous blocks (with deep gaps between them) to the summit, which is the north peak. I was disappointed that there was no register, there may have been one on the lower south summit, but I did not visit it (the traverse appeared to be ~ class). This is a good class 3 climb with cumulative exposure on excellent rock. Obviously one can climb directly to the summit, but it would be something other than class 3. The next day, as I climbed up and down the middle peak of Mt. McAdie I thought "this is a lot like the Miter - good stuff."
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