I just returned from climbing Kings peak and West Gunsight peak in the Uintas. The snow is burning off fast and I would not let that scare you off. We did have to negotiate some snow, but it was not a problem. We glissaded down from the ridge to save some time. The worst part was the incredible amount of mosquitoes up there this year. I have done Kings 5 times since 97 and this was the worst year by far for bugs. We had to apply deet constantly to keep them at bay. Also, Painter basin is totally soggy, so expect a lot of mud. We avoided it by climbing up and over West Gunsight peak and we avoided it on the descent too, by glissading down some snow on the back side of West Gunsight. We were also surprised at the lack of people on the mountain. We only ran into two other groups in three days and one night we were the only people camped at Dollar Lake. That actually made the trip very enjoyable.
Climbed it on the 5th and the 13th (a long story) and will agree with you on the conditions. There was enough water from snowmelt that I didn't carry water very far, a definite weight savings. The mosquitos were, as noted, horrible. No way to sugar coat that fact! Good that you had the mountain pretty much to yourself. We ended up with a group of noisy boy scouts and their fires near Dollar Lake (had to wait at Anderson Pass for them to come down from the peak because there just wasn't enough room). Got a large portion of satisfaction in turning them into the ranger, although we felt badly for ruining HER day.
I'm still a Boy Scouts of America supporter, but some Scout groups are so unsupervised, that it's amazing they don't cause more problems than they do..
As Scott knows, a few years ago a group of unsupervised Scouts coming down the rock slide below Andersons Pass and Kings Peak threw all kinds of rocks down on hikers below.
Here were a dozen scouts fanning out down the rock slide and coming down with no regard to the safety of those below. These Scouts' leaders had lost total control of the group.,
I've seen scouts on other peaks too, like Salt Lake's Lone Peak, or Timpanogos Peak and they many times have little or no supervision to understand the dangers around them.
Also, scouts in Utah are alleged to have started a, expensive fire in the High Uintas a few years ago and are involved in a lawsuit there.
Scouts get lost in the wild almost every year too.
Having a fun time is one thing, but tI think oo many leaders of Boy Scouts act too much like the teenagers themselves,
If I'm on Kings Peak and a group of Boy Scouts come along, they "take over" the peak.
Any other high points besides Kings Peak, have problems with groups of unsupervised or improperly Boy Scouts?
I didn't see Scouts on Elbert or Whitney when I hiked them, but if I had, it would have likely changed my experience there a lot..
A group of scouts and leaders from Gastonia NC (outside Charlotte) ascended Rhododendron Gap from Grayson Highlands SP last MLK weekend. They ignored advice from rangers about conditions, were unprepared, and one of the leaders recently had lung surgery. Needless to say they were grossly unprepared, many had frozen boots, wet, and needed to be rescued by a local FD. I wrote a scathing letter to the council as did a friend who serves as the rescue squad OMD. Apparently councils in the area now require winter prepardness certification by leaders. I say this not too belittle the boy scouts as I have am an eagle scout and have been a scoutmaster. In many cases the boys do not have the supervision and guidance from the adult leaders.
Since I brought up the original tangent, I will respond.
I am a scout leader. A card carrying assisant scoutmaster of a troop and have been one for a long time. I try very hard to teach the scouts the appropriate skills I think they are going to need based on the situation. For a lot of things the Boy Scout heirarchy and I are in agreement. For some we are not. But in the end it seems to all work out and we don't trash the woods.
When I have come across situations like I found on Kings, my usual strategy is to quietly go over to the scoutmaster and mention that I saw something I feel may be dangerous (or downright stupid, like killing snakes just because they are snakes). I try not to mention names unless it is apropos to the situation and find that keeping my voice low is a plus. A lot of scoutmasters are out and out unfamiliar with what happened, so yelling and screaming is generally not the way to go. They are usually very happy to use the situation for a teaching tool later on. They very seldom have an inherent reason for wanting the kids or the environment to be harmed.
But when I see a group of greater than 25 people coming up the trail in a wilderness area that has a 14 person maximum group size, I may have a problem. (to their credit, they did break into two groups to camp). But that means immediately that there will be too many people on the top of the mountain for safety. The scouts have (at most) a one quart (or litre) canteen apiece. They have no way to purify additional water, of which there is plenty. They have no rain or cold weather gear. OK, this is July, but there is still snow on the ground and the previous week it had snowed (I was there). Most didn't bring lunch. One kid is sitting next to some form of "adult" supervision throwing rocks at the kids down below. I went ballistic on that one and offered to throw rocks at him on the way down. My outburst seemed to surprise folks. Then my climbing buddy mentioned he had been on the receiving end of that one time, which caused them to think a bit (I saw the smoke coming out the ears). It came to the "supervisor" that the kid had done something unsafe, but it was beyond him to understand what. We had a long discussion on hills climbed. He hadn't done very many. When I gently explained why I was upset, he seemed to miss some of the finer points like, "People get hurt."
Then the leader took all the kids down the rock slide at Anderson Pass. Looked like ankle breaking stuff to me but I didn't see any bodies at the bottom. And we won't go into the fires in the no fire zone within 1000 feet of Dollar and Henrys Lakes.
To their credit, the kids were polite. And they were kids, which somewhat explains why they do stupid things sometimes.
I fully agree with you. Teach the children. And if necessary, teach the adults. Scathing letters to the Council will solve less than may be desired. In my case I made an executive decision to inform the ranger when I saw her riding in the next day. I felt badly for ruining her day but saw no other constructive way to handle the situation. Heaven knows she wasn't making the big bucks and didn't need the grief.
This probably needs to be a separate thread and not so closely related to Kings.
I am an Eagle Scout, Assistant Scoutmaster, Backpacker, Highpointer, Climber at the same time I’m a husband, father, runner, soccer referee, etc. I don’t have the time either to help, but.......
I too have seen boy scouts, girl scouts, church groups, 4-H’ers and other young student-age groups “misbehaving” in the wilderness. However, adults cause most problems: litter, cutting live trees, drinking, building too large fires, loud music, etc. Singling out one of these groups doesn’t serve the purpose of making things better. I have run into several young groups on the Appalachian Trail here in Georgia causing a ruckus or “were grossly unprepared”. In every instance they turned out to be a church group. I would spend some time talking to their leaders who gratefully accepted my help and suggestions.
I learned to backpack and first rock-climbed at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico at the age of 13. The Boy Scouts taught me how to enjoy the outdoors, which I have passed on to my children and at least a couple of hundred other boy scouts. Others and I learned how to camp, hike, build fires, survive without shelter, LEAVE NO TRACE CAMPING, rock-climb, how to build and repair trails because someone in the scouting program was willing to teach me.
I can tell you from my experience of working on our Council Camping Committee that writing a “scathing letter to the council” won’t solve anything. If you don’t like the way boy scouts are “enjoying” the outdoors, help them. Join a scout troop as an assistant scoutmaster and teach them your proper way of camping/hiking/backpacking/climbing. Talk to their leaders on an equal level explaining the proper way to participate in a climb. You are right, their leaders might not know how to camp/hike in the cold or high elevations. However, they are out there doing the best they can so those boys have a chance to do the same things you and I like to do. Call a scout leader and volunteer to teach a weekend or night class on Leave No Trace Camping or better yet, lead a weekend climb somewhere.
Don’t just get on the internet or snail mail and complain; participate, teach, volunteer! We boy scouts need more of you.
I have done Kings several times and the only issues that I have ever had with other hikers have been with scouts. I think the biggest problem is a lack of supervision. I have seen scout troops that were spread way out with only a few leaders for several scouts. This caused many scouts to be totally unsupervised and I am sure that many of those boys had very little back country experience. It is very dangerous and annoying to other hikers on the trail. I have also been a scout leader myself and I have to admit, that I did not always do everything right, but it does seem dangerous to have two leaders supervising 15 scouts and having them spread all over the trail. I have done several High points and Kings is the only place that I have seen this problem. I think it will probably take a major accident on Kings (Probably in the chute) before the LDS church (They sponsor most of the troops in Utah) puts restrictions on what these scouts can do. What I witnessed in the chute in 03 was ridiculous..several scouts sliding down knocking off rocks, almost hitting several hikers. This is very dangerous! Anyway, just my two cents for what it is worth..
I agree that LDS boy scout groups are normally always out of control and the scouts are usually unsafe and unsupervised. I have been a scout leader myself and actually had a group on Kings Peak two years ago. I made sure the boys were well behaved which wasn't too hard since my boys were older (16 and 17 year olds). There were other scout groups at Henry's Lake next to us that seemed to be fairly well contained and behaved. The thing that ruined my wilderness experience at Kings Peak was the ##$!!% sheep! What in the world are sheep doing in this pristine wilderness. These ugly, smelly , things destroy and annoy everything and everyone in the area. It seems wrong to me that back packers have to take great care of the wilderness area yet these sheep are allowed in to destroy everything in sight. I wrote a stinging letter to the forest service and got some lame reply about the ranchers have lease rights to the area and there is nothing they can do about it.
The lease rights for ranchers in the Henrys Fork and other areas of the High Uintas go back 50-plus years.
These rights were apparently preserved as part of the original legislation that made the High Uintas a wilderness area.
Unless ranchers voluntarily give up these rights, there's no way to restrict them.
I too have encountered sheep in the High Uintas.
Just got back from a great summit trip on King's Peak. We came in via Henry's Fork and camped in the Henry's Fork basin, just inside the treeline close to Anderson Pass. That was on Friday. We started up on Sat morning at 6am, and summitted by 8:45am. The hike up Anderson Pass was steep, about 45 degrees, in some places a bit steeper. That took us about 45 min, then the rest of the time spent rock scrambling up to Kings. What a great hike. I would recommend taking the Anderson Pass route to those who want the shortest route possible. Just summit early to prevent getting rocks kicked down on you from above on your descent down the pass. The mosquitos were pretty bad. I brought in a mosquito net that I bought years ago and never thought I'd use. Well it was more valuable than tp on this trip!
We lucked out on the weather. It was overcast when we got on top, but otherwise no adverse conditions.