Black Kaweah Southwest Face

Visalia, California

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James Hutchinson, Onis Imus Brown, and Duncan McDuffie made the first ascent of the Black Kaweah in August 1920 by way of the long west ridge. Hutchinson, a charter member of the Sierra Club, was 53 years old at the time of the ascent. He described the less than perfect rock. “The ridge looked pretty fair, but I must confess there were some deep, ugly gashes in it which did not appeal to me greatly. The peak was seamed, cracked, scarred and broken by weathering like no peak we have ever climbed, the whole ridge appeared to be disintegrating rapidly.” The route up the southwest face has become the most popular route on the peak. Although it looks intimidating from below, the gully has many ledges, creating a loose staircase that spirals to the summit. In early season, this gully may be filled with snow and/or ice. The climb may be actually safer in these more difficult conditions due to a reduced threat of rockfall. Even Norman Clyde was concerned about the rockfall on the peak, noting “this is one of the most difficult and dangerous peaks of the High Sierra.”

Black Kaweah: Southwest Face Professional Review and Guide

"James Hutchinson, Onis Imus Brown, and Duncan McDuffie made the first ascent of the Black Kaweah in August 1920 by way of the long west ridge. Hutchinson, a charter member of the Sierra Club, was 53 years old at the time of the ascent. He described the less than perfect rock. “The ridge looked pretty fair, but I must confess there were some deep, ugly gashes in it which did not appeal to me greatly. The peak was seamed, cracked, scarred and broken by weathering like no peak we have ever climbed, the whole ridge appeared to be disintegrating rapidly.” The route up the southwest face has become the most popular route on the peak. Although it looks intimidating from below, the gully has many ledges, creating a loose staircase that spirals to the summit. In early season, this gully may be filled with snow and/or ice. The climb may be actually safer in these more difficult conditions due to a reduced threat of rockfall. Even Norman Clyde was concerned about the rockfall on the peak, noting “this is one of the most difficult and dangerous peaks of the High Sierra.”"

Activity Type: Climbing
Nearby City: Visalia
Class: Class 3
Local Contacts: Sequoia National Park
Local Maps: USGS Lodgepole, Triple Divide Peak
Driving Directions: Directions to Black Kaweah: Southwest Face

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May 2018