Koip Peak SPS
Kuna Peak P1K WSC / PD

Fri, Oct 9, 1998
Koip Peak
Kuna Peak
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 Profile
Koip Peak later climbed Fri, Aug 13, 2004
Kuna Peak later climbed Fri, Aug 13, 2004

On my way to climb Mt. Ritter, I thought I'd do a "warm up" while I was driving through Yosemite. My friend Michael had cancelled on the Ritter trip a few days earlier, so this was going to be a solo trip. Leaving San Jose at 6:30a Fri morning, I arrived at the Mono Pass trailhead off hwy 120 at 11:30a. I figured this would give me plenty of time to bag a few peaks and get back before dark.

I set off with two waist packs of supplies, under sunny skies, but cool and breezy.I reached Parker Pass a bit before 1p, 5.2mi from the trailhead. The wind had picked up considerably so I put my jacket and gloves on which I kept on for the remainder of the hike. The hike down Parker Canyon is quite beautiful, passing more than a half dozen lakes in an alpine meadow setting. As I reached the lowpoint before the ascent up to Koip Pass, I pondered the possibility of a hike all the way down Parker Canyon. Secor doesn't mention this option in his book, and from the views I had, it was not possible to determine whether a feasible route existed or it is cutoff by impassable cliffs (the descent is quite steep through this canyon past the point where the trail goes).

About a foot of snow had fallen in the Sierra the weekend before, mainly between Mammoth and Dana Pk. The switchbacks up Parker Pk to Koip Pass were partially covered with this snow still, but not enough to obscure the trail. It was easy enough to dance around the snow in most places, but there were some crossings required in which it was either hard and slick or ankle deep, depending on the location and sun exposure. Near the top of the switchbacks I briefly considered heading straight up to Parker Pk, to bag a third peak on this hike. It turned out to be a wise decision not to, as I would certainly have run out of time.

At Koip Pass, I was treated to wonderful views to the south of Banner, Ritter, and the surrounding terrain (tomorrow's adventure). I headed up to Koip Pk boulder hopping, avoiding the snow for the most part. I reached the summit at 3p and signed the register. By now the wind had increased to about 30-40mph, so I spent little time on top. I was a bit short on time as well, and I could see Kuna Pk to the west, 40 ft higher, beckoning.

It took half an hour to climb down the saddle between the peaks and up to Kuna. At 13,002ft, it joins Lyell and Dana as one of only three peaks in Yosemite above 13Kft. This completed my quest of these peaks, having climbed Lyell earlier in August. Kuna, unfortunately, is a pretty nondescript peak, lacking an obvious summit or the usual outstanding views, which might explain the lack of a register (or I might have been too lame to find it).

It took another half hour to get back to Koip Pk and begin my descent at 4p. I figured I had 3 hours (before it got dark) to retrace what took me 4.5 hrs to climb.

I climbed down the rocks to the trail and alternately hiked and jogged from there down to Parker Canyon. At the lowpoint I noticed the vision in my left eye was blurred which I attributed to aggravation by windburn. This has happened to me in the past in the same eye, so I didn't worry much about it. My right eye was fine, so the combined effect was to provide a soft glow around objects, sort like a special film processing technique you'd see in a wedding album.

At this point I also decided to stop jogging, because 1) I realized I'd make it out before dark, 2) It was more enjoyable to walk, and 3) I was tired!

I hiked up to Parker Pass, passing several folks making camp just east of the Yosemite border. The entire Dana drainage in Yosemite is off limits to overnight camping to preserve water quality (this is the source of the potable water in Tuolumne Meadows). A neat trick is to camp just east of Mono or Parker Pass, outside the restricted area.

Hiking back down the Mono Pass trail, the sun was setting through the trees and over the Mammoth Crest to the west. I arrived back at the trailhead at 6:30p, about 20 minutes past sunset.

I unloaded my gear, put on my heavy coat (I drive a Suzuki Samurai convertible and only had the short top on, so it gets cold!), and got ready to drive on to Mammoth Lakes. It was at this time that I was hit with a sudden nausea and headache, classic symptoms of altitude sickness. Going from sea level to 13Kft in 8.5hrs was suddenly proving to be less than a smart move. The only cure is lower elevation.

Head throbbing, stomach turning (I'm hoping I don't have to pull over quickly to empty it's feeble contents), vision blurred (it becomes apparent that binocular vision is most useful at night while driving down steep, winding mountain roads with oncoming cars considerately blinding you with their high beams), it takes all the concentration I can muster to make the 45 minute drive to Mammoth.

Originally, I had planned to camp at the Agnew Meadows trailhead, the start of my dayhike to Mt. Ritter. At this point, at hot shower and warm bed sounded much more appealing than a night under the stars. I got a room at the Rodeway Inn, took some Advil, a hot shower, and some beef jerky before retiring. I was hoping to get a decent meal after my shower, but I had no appetite (another symptom of altitude sickness) and no energy to leave the room. Sick though I might be, I had thoroughly enjoyed the day's climbing.


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More of Bob's Trip Reports

For more information see these SummitPost pages: Koip Peak - Kuna Peak

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