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Hayden Peak, The Kennedy Route

Less than a week after my friend Hayden Kennedy’s death, I headed to the Uintas to scout for ice. It had been a good fall and I'd already climbed ice a few days in September. I've been watching Hayden Peak (12,479’) for years, as there are many potential winter lines on it, but they come and go, sometimes within a few days’ time. This time I was lucky enough to spot a series of smears that linked together for what looked to be around 900' of ice.

A few days later, Julien Baudrand and I were hiking in the predawn. Perfect temps and conditions and low snow on the approach made for fast hiking, and we were at the base in a little over an hour. I took the first pitch: 45' of almost vertical ice with a short M4 topout, which led to a traversing shelf heading right. Julien took pitch two, a full rope length of WI3-. Pitch three was more WI3 to a snowfield and rock outcrop for the belay. We walked left from here to reach an icy smear in a corner—thin ice protected every few feet by bomber gear in the quartzite. A short stretch of M4 then led to a snowfield and a tree belay 160' higher.

Pitch five was a low-angle gully that started just more than body-width and opened up after 40' to rambling ice steps. From here, the ice continued but didn’t appear to go far. Wanting to check it out, I soloed 200' or so of WI2 until it ended in talus above.

We decided not to continue up the talus slope to the summit and headed down. We were happy to have put together a fun, moderate alpine line on Hayden Peak that only seemed fitting to name for a great American alpinist and friend—the Kennedy Route (900’, WI3+ M4).

– Nikki Smith