Comanche County Highpoint Trip Report

Date: December 18, 2007
Author: Edward Earl

The Comanche County, OK HP is known on summitpost as Mount Haley and it is the HP of the Wichita Mountains. It also has the distinction of being the most isolated point in the state of OK.

I actually required two attempts - 15 hours apart - to get this one. The distance from the nearest road is about 1.5 miles as the crow flies and the elevation gain is about 750 feet. I began my first attempt at about 3:50 PM, thinking it would take no more than a couple of hours, right? Wrong. The top 300 feet of the mountain is a pile of huge boulders with lots of route finding challenges. From a distance, it looks quite doable to a person like me who can lead 5th class rock but, when I began climbing up the summit boulders, I found some of them covered with ice. It was difficult to find a route up through the 10-foot boulders with an occasional 25-foot sheer cliff. In the waning daylight, I decided it would not be very smart to continue. So I retreated and decided to try again the next morning, with a fresh round of daylight.

From OK-19, 5 miles east of OK-54 or 4 miles west of OK-115, I turned south on an unsigned dirt road by a farm windmill. A paved road, signed "KW N2360", goes north from this point. Zero or note your odometer here. At 0.5 mile, pass through the arched entrance to Sugar Creek Ranch (no gate or sign). At 0.7 mile, go right at a fork. At 1.2 miles, go right at a fork in front of a house. At 2.2 miles, cross a cattle guard, immediately make a sharp right, ford a creek, and turn left at a junction, all within less than 100 yards. At 3.3 miles, the road turns 90 left (now heading east) at some corrals. At 3.8 miles, the road turns 90 right. At 4.3 miles, the road again turns 90 left. I parked near this point and hiked southwest from the road corner, crossing a gate with a small sign whose content I will discuss only on a private basis.

A grass road headed southwest across a broad, open pasture. I soon turned right at a junction. The road dropped slightly, crossed a creek shortly downstream of the point where it turns north as it emerges from the canyon to the west. The road then continues up the canyon next to the creek, crossing it a couple of times. After about 15-20 minutes total hiking time, the road ends at a turnaround loop with a wire gate. A rough trail continues beyond, passing through a wire gate and eventually becoming braided before petering out.

The peak is visible most of the time ahead and to the left as a pile of boulders guarded by a band of brush. I eyed what seemed like a possible route and headed for it, only to be blocked by huge boulders and smooth sheer cliffs. I was forced to traverse right, descending slightly, before reaching easier ground to the northwest of the peak. I then scaled partway up the northwest ridge, only to be blocked once again by huge boulders. I traversed farther right and found a route that continued up. I got within 50 vertical feet of the summit, then found myself blocked by a maze of 10-foot deep slots between boulders. I backtracked slightly, traversed around to a dirt gully on the southwest side of the summit, climbed up, traversed right some more, and finally surmounted the summit boulders from the south.

My route circumnavigated the peak nearly 3/4 of the way around, from east to north to west and finally to south. In fact, my route was probably the same as that of Dave Olson and Bob Martin for the top 25-50 feet. I considered descending via their route but, upon eyeing their route, I could not tell where I might be cliffed out (since I had not come up that way). I therefore decided to descend by my ascent route, except that I didn't try to traverse onto the north face. Rather, I descended into the canyon from the relatively flat, grassy, easy ground on the northwest shoulder of the peak.

Total time was 2 hours up, 1.5 hours down.

My recommendation to future climbers on this route would be to continue up the canyon almost to the pass at its head. Then scale the gradual northwest ridge, which is smooth and not difficult until you get very close to the top. When blocked by large boulders, traverse right as necessary. Do not try to climb the north face.