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The Black Kaweah

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South West Ridge T 

The Black Kaweah Rock Climbing 

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Elevation: 13,680'
Location: 36.545, -118.516 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 3,535
Administrators: Chris Owen, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Chris Owen on Apr 4, 2006
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Black Kaweah from Pyramidal Pinnacle


"Here, toothed and volcanic, The Black Kaweah is the Sierra's most forbidding peak."

So John Cleare described this peak in his book "Mountains and Mountaineering". I see no reason to dispute his analysis. Others may disagree.

The Black Kaweah has a reputation for being loose. The most common way up is by the Southwest Face Route (CL3).

This a remote peak surrounded by truly deep backcountry - even getting there is an adventure....

Picture here:

Getting There 

Little Five Lakes, although a compromise, is probably a good spot to camp for a one day hike to gain access to routes on the south to west sides of the peak. Although a very early start for the climb will be required.

From Mineral King hike over Glacier Pass down to Spring Lake, then hike up to the crest of Cyclamen Lake Pass, scramble along its north side, over the ridge ahead and down into the Little Five Lakes Basin. This is a wonderfully scenic but gruelling hike (6 miles - 3,300 ft gain, 1,000 ft loss, 1,200 ft gain).

One could take two days to do this hike: Camp at Spring Lake on Day 1, then the next day hike past Little Five Lakes into The Big Arroyo, north up this and camp closer to the Peak.

The other alternative is from Giant Forest, to hike the High Sierra Trail up over Kaweah Gap which is about 16 miles, this is a two day affair and would land you at the head of The Big Arroyo.

Get permit information here.

Climbing Season

For the High Sierra area.

Weather station 12.1 miles from here

1 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',0],['3 Stars',0],['2 Stars',1],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in The Black Kaweah

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for The Black Kaweah:
South West Ridge   4th 1 2 I 2 M 1b     Trad, Alpine, 4000'   
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in The Black Kaweah

Featured Route For The Black Kaweah
Rock Climbing Photo: South West and West Ridge on the left sky line

South West Ridge 4th 1 2 I 2 M 1b  California : High Sierra : ... : The Black Kaweah
From the High Sierra Trail head up the ridge. At about 12000' you will hit the west ridge. Follow the ridge over a series of extremely loose towers gaps and gully's to the final summit ridge.(note)- We stayed as close to ridge crest as possible. A easier route can be found well below the ridge line good luck. ...[more]   Browse More Classics in California

Photos of The Black Kaweah Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Heading for the summit high above.
Heading for the summit high above.
Rock Climbing Photo: The Black Kaweah
BETA PHOTO: The Black Kaweah
Rock Climbing Photo: Black Kaweah seen from Winter Alta.
Black Kaweah seen from Winter Alta.

Comments on The Black Kaweah Add Comment
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By Chad Namolik
From: Three Rivers, CA
Feb 3, 2010
I hiked Black Kaweah in the summer of 2007. The best and most direct route is the SW chute (called SW face in Secors) from the base lake. Its mostly all class three with a couple of class 4+ moves. It sometimes holds snow/ice well into late July. There is loose rock all over the place. A helmet is recommended. The view from the summit is spectacular.

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