Koip Peak

Morgan Brown

Canadian Rockies
Sequoia/Kings Canyon
1998 Trips
1999 trips
2000 trips
Clouds Rest
Koip Peak
2001 Trips
2002 Trips

Books that Morgan

The High Sierra: Peaks, Passes, and Trails - by R.J. Secor. Unquestionably the bible of California backcountry adventure. Reliable and exhaustive, which is no small feat, given the scale of the "Range of Light".

Selected Photos...

Parker Cyn. &Mono Lake
from Koip Pass trail

Kim on Koip's summit
- view of Mono Lake

Kim and view south
from Koip's summit

Summary Image Gallery Trip Map
  • Date: July 1, 2000.
  • Route: Koip Peak from Dana Meadows trailhead.
  • Total distance: 20+ miles.

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Other Trip Reports...
Kim has written a trip report that is far better than this one, so you may just want to skip mine.

We started at the Dana Meadows (Mono Pass) trailhead (9600') in Tuolumne Meadows around 8 a.m., having camped the previous night just over Tioga Pass in the Tioga Lake Campground (illegally, as Kim's report mentions). I usually make the hike through Dana Meadows a quick one, as the mosquitoes are particularly agressive here. The stream crossing was not problematic.

We made our way to Parker Pass (11100'), about six miles from the trailhead, a bit before 10:00. As always, the spur trail is tough to find. After cresting Parker Pass, the trail heads toward Parker Canyon, but never descends much below 11000'. The view is one of contrast, with a placid network of braided lakes in the foreground and the very rugged Parker Canyon in the background. After three miles or so, Koip Peak and Koip Peak Pass become visible for the first time. Koip Peak Pass is at the head of a cirque-like feature, bounded by Parker Peak on the east and Koip Peak on the southwest. The trail climbs about 1000' up unconsolidated talus on the western slope of Parker Peak, coming to Koip Peak Pass (12200') perhaps three miles later.

As I climbed out of Parker Canyon up to Koip Peak Pass, I was overcome with a feeling of utter fragility. Geologically, the region is on the edge of the Sierra Nevada Batholith; a hodgepodge of shattered metamorphic rocks. The last real tree I'd seen was 6 miles and 1200' back. Winds were strong: sustained 20-30 mph, and gusting to 50+mph. Koip Peak Pass is a saddle between the gently-sloping shapes of Koip Peak (12960') and Parker Peak (12800'). The lack of vegetation on either makes it difficult to get a sense of scale, and adds to the mystique, making them seem even more monolithic.

To be honest, I wasn't overjoyed with the thought of climbing Koip Peak. The slope looked like nasty talus, which I didn't feel like fighting. But in fact the rocks are fairly well-consolidated, making travel pretty easy. Indeed, this climb is rated class 1. I did the last 400' to the summit on a snowfield, but Kim seemed to be making better time on the rocks. We made the summit by 1 p.m. or so, which means we took about 3 hours to reach the summit from Parker Pass.

Any illusions that this trip was a fruitless hump were shattered by the view from the summit. To the east: Parker Peak, and much further away, the truly monolithic White Mountain Range near the Nevada border. To the northeast, blue Mono Lake, and the red, metamorphic Mts. Lewis, Gibbs, and Dana. To the northeast: Tuolumne Meadows, Mt. Conness, and even the bottomless Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River. Kuna Peak (13000') is a short hike to the west which we didn't take, but I'm sure the view of Lyell Canyon and Cathedral Range are spectacular. The view to the south took the cake. Nearby was Koip Crest and Blacktop Peak - incredibly foreboding crags. Alger Lakes nestled in a valley 1500' below. In the distance, the Ritter Range, and much further south, the peaks at the north end of Kings Canyon NP. An endless expanse of the most rugged peaks, all interspersed with late spring snow coating.

We lingered on the summit for quite a while, since the wind was actually less intense than on the trail to Koip Peak Pass. We were the first party to sign the register for nearly a month, but close on our heels, another party of two dayhikers followed my tracks up the snowfield to the summit. We ate lunch at Koip Peak Pass and got underway by 2:30. I think we were both ready to stop hiking by the time we reached Parker Pass at 4 p.m., but alas, we didn't make it to the car until 6:30.

By all accounts, a memorable trip. Unfortunately, my photographic journal of this trip doesn't adequately conjure up the images I witnessed firsthand...

© 2005 , Stanford Exploration Project
Department of Geophysics
Stanford University

Modified: 11/18/05, 13:53:04 PST , by morgan
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