Madison County High Point Trip Report

Hilgard Peak

Date: August 28-30, 2001
Author: Dave Covill

We chatted with rangers at several spots, then headed in to try Hilgard Peak from a southern approach. This long, circuitous trail took us 9 miles around to the north then east, then down to a camp at Crag Lake. It was 6 hours in to there. Bob startled a medium size black bear 75 feet from camp in our pond, and we watched him lope away.

We spent 14 hours the next day, going south to the end of the trail, then bushwhacking down the next valley, around the south end of the ridge coming off of Hilgard, then up Hilgards southeast face. Last 400 feet made for low class 4 or tough class 3, and Bob agreed that it was tougher than Mt Ritter in Madera Co, CA. I have not done Ritter. We climbed up a chute that took us to between the 2nd and 3rd of the 4 summit pinnacles, then went around the north side to climb the 4th and highest. Took us about an hour to do the 400 feet up. Small register, a few folks a year go there.

Koch Peak, other Madison cohp candidate, was discernible about 10 miles north. Rained lightly on us as we descended, which was nasty. Tore my shorts. We brought a 50 foot rope, but didn't use it. No good place to wrap a sling. Bob saw 2 sheep on the way out, lots of deer. We spent a 2nd night, then took 4 1/2 hours to get out Friday.

Controversy: Rangers, guides, locals, and the Forest map all say Hilgard is HP of range/wilderness/county. Forest map says 11,316 feet for Hilgard, 11,287 feet for Koch. Current 7.5-minute topo says Koch is 11,293 feet, and puts Hilgard at 11,280+ feet, with 40-foot contours, and the contour surrounds the entire summit pinnacle, not showing individual pinnacles. Common sense dictates that if Koch's relatively broad summit ridge is about 13 feet above the contour shown, which Bob Packard will confirm as he intended to go there over the weekend being the ultra-purist he is, then Hilgard's summit is likely to be close to 11,320 feet. The high spire is a good 20 feet higher than the lowest one. They are maybe 150 feet apart, and stack up like fingers, each higher, from south to north, with the north highest. So, long way of asking, did I complete Madison County MT per group rules, or do I wait for either a better survey/map, or return to Koch some day?