Photos from this trip can be found here.
Other than McClellan Butte, Mount Kent was the only mountain in Alice Creek Basin pups and I have visited. I hadn’t been able to pull up many reports on Duke and Duchess of Kent, but I knew it’d probably be less sketchy when snow isn’t present.
After hiking to end of the road and getting onto the talus, pup and I started working our way up toward two gullies to the north of Duke’s summit. Standing at bottom of the gullies, it was harder to discern which one was the better route, but in the end I picked the left gully. Lower half of the gully was chossier but less steep. And of course the higher we went, the steeper and narrower the gully became and the gully was very much chimney like. Halfway up there was a big step next to a slab wall taller than my head. After pushing the pup up, I slowly and very carefully stemmed up as there weren’t too many good holds.
At some point I dropped one of my trekking poles down the chimney. I didn’t feel like down climbing and up again so I didn’t bother to retrieve it. But if anyone else goes into that gully and finds a trekking pole, then you’ll know who left it there. After exiting the gully on a notch we followed what I thought was a ramp west of the ridge to get around and up cliffs above us. Once on top, we then moved to east of the ridge as the terrain was much more forgiving and less steep. Lots of steep slabs on the east face, but we were able to down climbed and got around them no problem to the base of summit. First time seeing the summit after leaving Alice Creek Basin.
Man, all that hard work seriously had paid off once we got on the summit! Views here weren’t too shabby, with South Fork Snoqualmie River Valley to the east and the entire wall of popular hiking destinations on the north side. Although I couldn’t really see things past McClellan Butte since it was taller.
On the descent we took the east face route moving southward, side-traversed on heather and talus to reach a notch south of Duke’s summit. From the notch we worked our way down some thick growth and I noticed a climbers path. Oddly, the path ended abruptly 20 feet above brush at the bottom. We dropped another couple hundred feet to get around Duke’s west cliffs, then reconnected with our route on north end of the talus field and hiked out.