At just over 13,000 feet, Kuna Peak is the third highest point in Yosemite National Park behind Mount Lyell and Mount Dana. The summit provides a spectacular view of the Yosemite high country and Ansel Adams Wilderness including the entire Cathedral Range and Ritter Range. To the south lies Mammoth Mountain and the southern High Sierra while the north features Tuolumne Meadows, the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne and peaks of Northern Yosemite. The centerpiece of the view is from the rugged peaks of Banner Peak, Mount Ritter and Rodgers Peak to the “Roof of Yosemite” including Mount Lyell and Mount Maclure. The view is not dissimilar from that achieved on Mount Dana, but Kuna is perched much closer to the Cathedral Range and Ritter Range with a direct and unobstructed view into Lyell Canyon.
On this day, several inches of new snow in the high country added to the magnificent setting, but it did not come without work. The first few miles to Mono Pass were virtually entirely snowbound and snow continued beyond, but we were relieved to find the final approach to Parker Pass mainly snow free. The switchbacks up to Koip Peak Pass were also largely snow free and we surmised that strong winds during the preceding storm had literally blown the snow off these barren slopes. On the traverse and final climb to Koip Peak, we encountered more unconsolidated snow that proved a bit arduous. Upon reaching the summit of Koip Peak, I was amazed to be comfortably in shorts and t-shirt on a late October day with no wind to speak of. Continuing on to Kuna Peak, I encountered some more post-holing in the drifted snow, but eventually made my way to the summit and enjoyed the 360 degree panorama taking many photos. Kuna Peak is a few feet higher than Koip and features more of an unobstructed view so it’s well worth the efforts for the short out-and-back. On the way back to the trailhead, we stopped to take many photographs, including a photo session from a point with Mono Lake as the backdrop. Complete photo album here.