Black Kaweah

26 Aug 1996 - by Don Martin

I solo climbed Black Kaweah in Sequoia - Kings Canyon on August 26, 1996.

This is a mid-3rd class climb with lots of loose rock on steep slopes. I used a helmet. I camped at Big Arroyo. I took 11 hours round trip from camp in order to move slowly to avoid triggering rockfall.

Following the stream from the trail towards the moriane lake, I approached a gully at the base of the mountain which ended at the bottom of a dried out waterfall. I turned left up a ramp for 75 feet, and entered another gully. This gully at a 45 degree angle led to the top. It had lots of subtle ramps, which kept the climb at class 3. The were a lot of loose, friable handholds which slowed me down as I tested them. The final 75 feet of climb consisted of a 20 degree slope. The summit is a six foot diameter flat area with great views. Only eight parties had summited this year. So few summited that this mountain is one of only three in the Sierra with the original register in place. This climb reminded me of Middle Palisade, but with more loose rock and loose handholds.

Go from trail up stream that intercepts trail near Big Arroyo campsite. Follow stream to base of mountain. Climb 50' up gully to base of dried out black stained waterfall. Turn left, go up a ramp 100 horizontal feet at an angle of 35 degrees. Now you are in another gully. Go up this and it leads all the way to the summit. 50' before the summit the angle of ascent declines to a very gradual slope. Then there is an easy 6' climb to a flat summit that is 6' wide.

Use a helmet. Move carefully, with party members very close to each other to minimize rock fall hazard.Keep looking for subtle ramps that keep the risk level at mid class 3. There are few steps that are challenging climbs of about 5 feet with no easy holds. Very important: test each handhold carefully as they are very loose.

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