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High Sierra

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Convict Lake and McGee Creek 
Evolution and Bishop Pass 
Great Western and Kings/Kern Divide 
Humphreys Basin, Pine Creek and Granite Park 
Kearsarge Pass to Cedar Grove 
Little Lakes Valley & Mono Recesses 
Lyell Group 
Outlying Areas 
Palisades and Surrounding Peaks 
Ritter and the Minarets 
Sawtooth Ridge, The 
Shepherd Pass 
Tuolumne Alpine 
Whitney and Surrounding Peaks 
Rest Day:
Nearby Mountain Bike Rides

Tour De Granite
A tough climb up a big rock. Near Auberry, California
Yost Meadow Trail
Underrated and overlooked - this trail is tough and demanding, but SO worth it. Near Mammoth Lakes, California
San Joaquin Ridge Trail
A lung busting climb that rewards you with some of the best views in the region. Near Mammoth Lakes, California
Beach Cruiser
An oldie but goodie cross-country trail that loops from Main Lodge at Mammoth Mountain Bike Park. Near Mammoth Lakes, California
Downtown Trail
An excellent descent from Main Lodge to The Village. Fun for all abilities. Near Mammoth Lakes, California
Horseshoe Lake Trail
An easy trail enhanced by great views of Horseshoe Lake. Near Mammoth Lakes, California
From MP's sister site: MTB Project

High Sierra  


Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Location: 37.27551, -118.67656 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 2,881,272
Administrators: Chris Owen, M.Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer, Justin Johnsen, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Nick Wilder on Jan 29, 2006
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You & This Area
Best routes for YOU in this area
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Palisades from Dusy Basin. From left to right: Mt....

Description 

John Muir's Range of Light...

Deep forested valleys, pristine lakes, beautiful meadows, acres of suncups, huge walls and domes, jagged ridges leading up to windswept nameless summits; all these await you.

Some of the finest granite, most beautiful mountains, and stable weather make the High Sierra a special place for climbers.

Though there are some long monolithic faces (like Charlotte Dome), the majority of climbing is on high altitude mountain walls which follow crack systems. Frequent ledges make for comfy belays. Routes frequently wander a bit, but pro is usually not a problem, and long slings can often be used to tie off a feature and keep the drag down. Of course like all mountain big walls, there are loose blocks, boulders, and rocks on the ledges, so take care with the ropes.

Despite the crowds in a few places, the dreaded permit system means the climbs are uncrowded, the camping is pleasant, and you feel like you've gotten away from it all and found some true wilderness.

In fact some parts of this range are incredibly far from the madding crowd, seek these places out, they are ancient and sacred places. For every crowded classic (a result of the "select" books?) there are a hundred empty just as classic routes.

Some notes about the weather/conditions:-

May-June: Approach to climbs may require taking crampons and ice-axe. Snow can provide a good highway there and back. May and June provide long daylight hours. Weather can be unstable with late arriving winter storms. Cold to cool.

July-Early Aug: Not so much snow, unless it's a big snow year. Suncups begin to develop which can hamper approaches. Still lots of daylight. Stable weather. Mosquitos. Warm.

Mid August - Mid September. No snow, more scree. Late afternoon thunderstorms. Hours getting shorter. Warm to cool.

Mid September - Late October: First winter snow. Less and less hours of daylight. October can be nice though, but not for long climbs. Cool to cold.

Getting There 

The High Sierra runs from the Sawtooth Range in the north, south to the Whitney Group, and covers an area bigger than the entire European Alps - most of it wilderness.

The easiest access is from Highway 395 on the east side, where several roads (thanks FDR) terminate at 7,000-10,000 foot trailheads within a few miles of the peaks, there are also options to cross high passes to access west country. There are also approaches from the west side, they are very beautiful and they tend to be longer and less steep, these are more useful for peaks or crags on the west side.

From the bay area, Highway 120 through Yosemite is the fastest route, even if you're going all the way to Whitney. If you leave after work, you can stop in Tuolumne Meadows (8,800 ft) or one of the Forest Service campgrounds just beyond the park (from 7,000-9,000 feet, and a bit cheaper). All these campgrounds will be full on summer weekends starting in July, but you can reserve sites in Tuolumne Meadows.

From Los Angeles take Highway 14 to 395 for the east side approaches. For the west side approaches take Freeway 5 then Highway 99.

If you're from out of town, you might find a good deal flying to Reno and renting a car.

Most people backpack and camp before climbing a specific route, and that requires an permit on almost all trailheads. Some are pretty hard to get, and you'll need to plan months ahead. A certain number are available on a first-come first-served basis on the day of the hike, if you don't mind starting late.

Permits
For the Inyo approaches go here.
For the Sequoia/Kings Canyon backcountry approaches go here.
For Yosemite backcountry approaches go here.

NOTE: There are a small amount of permits available on a first-come, first-served basis at the applicable Ranger Stations.

The permit info here supercedes any info at the peak level.

Italic Text

Climbing Season



Weather station 5.2 miles from here

198 Total Routes

['4 Stars',34],['3 Stars',90],['2 Stars',48],['1 Star',11],['Bomb',2]
['<=5.6',80],['5.7',22],['5.8',15],['5.9',12],['5.10',41],['5.11',10],['5.12',11],['5.13',0],['>=5.14',0],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',0],['V4-5',0],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for High Sierra:
North Ridge   5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c     Trad, Alpine, Grade III   Whitney and Surrounding Pea... : Lone Pine Peak
East Face   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, Alpine, 10 pitches, 1000'   Whitney and Surrounding Pea... : Mt. Whitney
East Buttress   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, Alpine, 11 pitches, 1000'   Whitney and Surrounding Pea... : Mt. Whitney
Southeast Face   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, Alpine, 13 pitches, 1500'   Ritter and the Minarets : Clyde Minaret
North Arete   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, Alpine, 6 pitches, 1000'   Little Lakes Valley & Mono ... : Bear Creek Spire
South Face   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, Alpine, 12 pitches, 1500'   Kearsarge Pass to Cedar Gro... : Charlotte Dome
Thunderbolt to Sill Traverse   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Easy Snow     Trad, Snow, Alpine, 5280'   Palisades and Surrounding P... : Thunderbolt Peak
Mithril Dihedral   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, Alpine, 6 pitches, 500'   Whitney and Surrounding Pea... : Mt. Russell
Evolution Traverse   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, Alpine, 5 pitches, 12000'   Evolution and Bishop Pass : Mt. Darwin
Fishhook ArÍte   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, Alpine, 8 pitches, 1000'   Whitney and Surrounding Pea... : Mt. Russell
Sun Ribbon Arete   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, Alpine, 22 pitches, 2000'   Palisades and Surrounding P... : Temple Crag
Red Dihedral (aka "Yggdrasil")   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, Alpine, 12 pitches, 1500'   The Sawtooth Ridge : Incredible Hulk
Michael Strassman Memorial Route   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Trad, Alpine, 6 pitches, 700'   Whitney and Surrounding Pea... : Lone Pine Peak
The Polish Route   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Trad, Alpine, 6 pitches, 900'   The Sawtooth Ridge : Incredible Hulk
Bastille Buttress - Beckey Route   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b A0     Trad, Aid, Alpine, 15 pitches, 2000'   Whitney and Surrounding Pea... : Lone Pine Peak
Positive Vibrations   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, Alpine, 12 pitches, 1200'   The Sawtooth Ridge : Incredible Hulk
Sunspot Dihedral   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Trad, Alpine, 9 pitches, 1200'   The Sawtooth Ridge : Incredible Hulk
The Emperor   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a PG13     Trad, Alpine, 18 pitches, 2200'   Kearsarge Pass to Cedar Gro... : Bubbs Creek Wall
The Venturi Effect   5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b     Trad, Alpine, 10 pitches, 1200'   The Sawtooth Ridge : Incredible Hulk
Solar Flare   5.12+ 7c 28 IX 27 E6 6b     Trad, Alpine, 9 pitches, 1000'   The Sawtooth Ridge : Incredible Hulk
Browse More Classics in High Sierra

Featured Route For High Sierra
The line of Western Front

Western Front 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b  CA : High Sierra : ... : Mt. Russell
This route is a link up of a couple routes on the west face of Russell. All I can say is it takes the BEST looking line on the west face, right directly up the center. Beyond that the photos will have to suffice for locating the route. After a little scrambling to reach the base of the crack, you pull up into the system proper. The crux is these moves pulling around a little bulge on some grainy rock. Follow this system for a pitch to some ledgy terrain. Cross some weird stuff to the left to gai...[more]   Browse More Classics in CA

Photos of High Sierra Slideshow Add Photo
3 beautiful alpine walls.  Cracks and corners ever...
3 beautiful alpine walls. Cracks and corners ever...
Mt. Humphreys wrapped in storm clouds
Mt. Humphreys wrapped in storm clouds
North Peak from the 20 Lakes Basin
North Peak from the 20 Lakes Basin
Shooting Stars with Checkered Demon in the backgro...
Shooting Stars with Checkered Demon in the backgro...
Sunrise on the MR of Mt. Whitney. Jan '12.
Sunrise on the MR of Mt. Whitney. Jan '12.
Isosceles Peak and Columbine Peak from Dusy Basin ...
Isosceles Peak and Columbine Peak from Dusy Basin ...
Sun Cups and stone. Photo by Blitzo.
Sun Cups and stone. Photo by Blitzo.
Incredible sunset after a typical Sierra thunderst...
Incredible sunset after a typical Sierra thunderst...
Night sky at Iceberg Lake.
Night sky at Iceberg Lake.
View east from Picket Creek Lake across Kern Canyo...
View east from Picket Creek Lake across Kern Canyo...
Mt. Whitney. Photo by Blitzo.
Mt. Whitney. Photo by Blitzo.
A psychedelic Sierra afternoon.
A psychedelic Sierra afternoon.
The NE view of Seven Gables Peak
The NE view of Seven Gables Peak
Evolution Valley.
Evolution Valley.
Ragged Peak reflected in Young Lake.  If you're so...
Ragged Peak reflected in Young Lake. If you're so...
Powell and Wallace from the south (Evolution Regio...
Powell and Wallace from the south (Evolution Regio...
Enjoying the view in Little Lakes Valley
Enjoying the view in Little Lakes Valley
Evening light creates a glow on Mt. McAdie  near C...
Evening light creates a glow on Mt. McAdie near C...
A moment of 'ahhhhh' -- paradise found  July 2011
A moment of 'ahhhhh' -- paradise found July 2011
Whaleback, seen from Big Wet Meadow in Cloud Canyo...
Whaleback, seen from Big Wet Meadow in Cloud Canyo...
Here's a pano shot that I stitched together from t...
BETA PHOTO: Here's a pano shot that I stitched together from t...
Across the Divide, Palisades
Across the Divide, Palisades
Clouds clear after a storm in the High Sierra, CA
Clouds clear after a storm in the High Sierra, CA
Loch Leven (11,000 ft.) near Paiute Pass
Loch Leven (11,000 ft.) near Paiute Pass

Show All 64 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on High Sierra Add Comment
Show which comments
By kenr
Aug 30, 2013
Crystal Crag is a dramatic peak with some great narrow ridge climbing set among wonderful lakes -- with a short easy approach from near the town of Mammoth Lakes --> see on map

See MountainProject page under "Sierra Eastside" region for
alpine / multi-pitch routes on Crystal Crag
By Jay Schenk
Oct 18, 2014
im looking for a partner to climb high sierra peaks before the season ends. im also looking to climb in whitney portal. id like to get on the bastille buttress. as far as high sierra peaks go i want to do anything classic 5.10 to 5.11. merriam peak... keeler, russell, anything we could still get on. email me.
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