Peak C may be climbed as a day-hike from the Piney River Ranch Trailhead with a return by mid-afternoon for stronger groups. RT mileage would be 10.3 with 3,860 feet of elevation gain. But Peak C may also be combined with three other 13er summits close by as part of a three day backpack trip with a base camp at the foot of the west facing couloir between Mount Powell and Peak C. From this campsite, the Peak C summit is .9 mile away with 2,000 feet of gain. Also note that Google Earth loses about 80 feet of this summit and therefore, the coordinates we provide may be off significantly. Helmets are strongly advised for this climb.
When we climbed Peak C, we had backpacked in that morning from the trailhead and established a base camp at the site coordinates provided. Striking out about noon, we thought we could gain the summit before afternoon storms moved in. We were wrong. During the course of our climb, it rained on us at least three times, one shower lasting for 45 minutes, and we were nearly struck by lightening. This is one peak we would like to have a "do-over" for. Keep in mind then that the following route description is influenced by the weather we encountered.
From the base camp meadow at 11,225 feet, looking east toward the Mount Powell/Peak C saddle, called "Kneeknocker Pass," there is a large couloir that's divided further up by a rock rib. Head up the south most couloir (right). Initially, for the first few hundred feet of gain you'll be hiking through vegetation that conceals larger rocks & boulders that are easy to trip on. Farther up, the vegetation gives way to a lot of broken rock of various sizes. Hiking over the larger ones seemed to offer more stability. The couloir continues to steepen and soon it becomes nearly a "two-steps-forward, one-step back" type of ascent in areas of smaller rock and gravel. At about 11,750 feet elevation, turn right into a secondary couloir that ascends to the west ridge of Peak C. This couloir is not visible from the campsite but is marked by a large sloping boulder with a reflective surface that can be seen from the campsite. (It may also be possible to go up an earlier and more visible couloir closer to the campsite that also gains the west ridge further down.)
This secondary couloir starts out filled with large, broken rocks & boulders. Farther up, the couloir narrows with near vertical walls on either side and becomes mostly loose, wet sand with remnants of snow and ice. We were here in mid-August indicating that any earlier in the season, this couloir would likely be filled with snow still so ice axe and crampons or micro-spikes advised. We estimated the angle as approaching 40°. At times, we had to plunge our ice axes into the gravel in order to keep from slipping back on the loose gravel. Fortunately, this steepest section does not last too long.
From the saddle, we headed east along the sloping ridge briefly before making more serious gain, following a faint trail that led to a rock wall with a notch marked by a small cairn. The rock was a sloping affair with a crack on the left that could have been easily scrambled if it had not become wet by some rain that had already fallen at this point. Since we were unable to get up here, we retreated back down the west ridge some and found a large crack that led to an area of almost vertical broken boulders and tundra ledges that led up to a higher, flat bench. The last ten feet of this ascent was exposed with no real way to protect it. Once atop, we worked our way back east into a rock-filled and lined, shallow couloir where we had to take shelter amid large boulders in a "pocket" of sorts while a rain shower passed over. It was while waiting here that a brilliant lightening strike followed instantaneously by an ear-bursting thunder clap left us actually feeling an electric charge passing through us, fortunately dissipated by the multiple rocks all around.
With the rain subsiding, we decided to try and make a "dash" for the summit, however, this is not the terrain where one just "dashes." We continued on up the shallow-rock-filled gully to its conclusion then made a right turn onto massive rock blocks. We found ourselves in a pocket of sorts where it was necessary to shimmey/stem up a large, somewhat exposed wet block (4th class) with the lead climber using some sling to assist the others. Once atop, it was a short stroll over more boulders to the rocky summit.
Weather did not allow us to linger on this summit for long with yet another storm approaching. One close call with lightening was enough for this day, so we returned as much as possible by the same route we had ascended. At the wall of near vertical broken boulders and tundra ledges, because everything was all wet, we used rope and set up a rappel. It was quite steep here and a fall would have been injurious, so this seemed prudent, otherwise, we did not use technical equipment anywhere else. From the summit of Peak C, some like to also include "C Prime" and there's also the challenge of the "Sawtooth" ridge all the way down to Peak G. Be sure and read some of the reports on Mountain Handbook.
Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.