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  • Writer's pictureJoanna Lee

Whale Peak

Updated: May 12, 2023

June 21, 2021

Whale Peak (13,078 feet) *did not summit

Route: Alltrails

6.1 miles; 2,410 feet elevation gain

3 hours 11 minutes

With my usual Wednesday hike not happening because we were leaving for Mexico, we decided to do an early Monday morning and attempt Whale Peak. The weather looked iffy for mid morning but we hoped if we started early enough we could get down before the storms. We left home at 5am and were hiking by 6:30am. I had both dogs with me and Brittany had Gryff.

Firstly, I would not recommend driving all the way to the trailhead without a 4WD vehicle, probably with high clearance unless you are a very confident off road driver. It is fine until about 1 mile from the trailhead where it gets a little more intense. You could park a little further down and hike a bit extra. I drive a Toyota 4Runner with off roading tires and had no issues.

The initial two miles of the hike are very straightforward and in the trees, with a creek running along the trail the whole time. After the first two miles you emerge from the trees and follow the trail through some thick brush to the beautiful alpine lake. From there the remainder of the hike is unmarked but you can see the peak you are aiming for. It is pretty much straight up for ¾ of a mile. There was one remaining snow field to climb, which has probably melted by now. I was struggling a lot with this incline/elevation gain. We were about 0.3 miles from the summit when we reached a point where we could see over the surrounding peaks; this is when we noticed the very low, very fast moving storm clouds approaching. They were coming towards us but we couldn’t tell how far away they were, because of the obstructed view. We could also see straight down the valley into the Grant area, where there was very low fog. We decided that based on clouds from both directions and the appearance of the larger clouds that we weren’t going to summit that day. It is always a bummer especially when you are so close to a summit, but my motto is that the mountains will always be there. I will never get risky with storm clouds at that elevation.

We headed back down, glissading down the remaining snow patches to the lake where we stopped for some pictures before heading back to the car. This was a beautiful hike and we saw no one at all, just a lot of marmots! We will definitely be back for this beautiful peak & alpine lake. I think it would end up being about 6.5 miles total based on our mileage without summiting.

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