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East Ridge 
King Trench 

King Trench 

Type:  Alpine
Original: Easy Snow [details]
FA: A. McCarthy et al, 1925
Season: Early May to early June
Page Views: 615
Submitted By: Martin le Roux on Jun 4, 2015

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BETA PHOTO: Google Earth image of Mt Logan/King Trench from th...


This is the original 1925 ascent route and the easiest route on the mountain ("easiest" is a relative term). For the most part it's a straightforward glacier hike or ski trip, somewhat comparable to the W Buttress of Denali, but minus the crowds and with more time spent at higher elevations (the last 8-10 miles are all above 15,000'). The main challenge is not the technical difficulty but the potential for extreme weather and the physical demands of carrying several weeks of supplies at high altitude. In recent years the route between King Col and the "Football Field" has become increasingly crevassed, and some parties have been unable to find a way through this section, especially later in the season when snow bridges start to melt out.

It's highly recommended as a ski trip. Ski crampons are useful. The snow up high is wind-scoured and very icy.

If flying from Kluane Lake the starting point is at 9,000' on the Quintino Sella Gl. If flying from Chitina, AK the starting point is 7 mi to the W at the US/Canada border. As of 2015 the Canadian authorities were no longer giving permission for trips starting from the US side.

Camp 1 is at 10,800' in the King Trench. A crevassed section at about 10,000' between Base Camp and Camp 1 is bypassed on climbers' right.

Camp 2 is at King Col at 13,400'. Camp 3 (the "Football Field") is at 15,800'. The section between Camps 2 and 3 is usually the technical crux of the route. It may be heavily crevassed and the slope angle approaches 45 degrees in places.

Above Camp 3 the route crosses Prospector Col at 18,100' and drops down to a camp at 16,500' on the summit plateau. The exact location of Prospector Col is not obvious from topo maps. It's an indistinct saddle near some rocky outcrops about 0.25 mi NW of Prospector Peak and 0.65 mi SE of AINA peak. Don't aim for the low point of the ridge midway between these peaks, otherwise you'll be on much steeper slopes.

The summit plateau is a nasty place to be in bad weather, and retreat is difficult since you have to climb back up to 18,100'. Multi-day storms are common and more than one group has had to be rescued from here. Best to have a good weather window before moving camp.

From Plateau Camp head SE towards the E Peak of Logan and cross the broad NE ridge of the W Peak at about 17,500' (if using skis there may be a short tricky section on the far side of this ridge). Then head S towards a wide flat area between the W Peak and the main summit (we left our skis here). Head SE to gain the ridge between the E Peak and the main summit a short distance from the latter, and follow the ridge to the top.

Note that from Plateau Camp the main summit is hidden behind the W Peak. In 2009 the Italian climber Hans Kammerlander reportedly climbed the latter by mistake, which was particularly embarrassing since he was attempting to climb the Seven Second Summits (K2, Mt Kenya, etc). Check your map!

It's also possible to make a high camp at 17,000' between the Football Field and Prospector Col ("Windy Camp"). From here follow the usual route to Prospector Col, then head directly over the W Peak, drop down 800' to the saddle between the W Peak and the main summit, and continue as above. This makes for a very long summit day (12 miles round-trip) but avoids the uphill carry from Plateau Camp back over Prospector Col on the way out, or the risk of being trapped by bad weather at Plateau Camp.

GPX tracks and waypoints here:


Standard gear for glacier travel.

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