East side Sierra hiking/ scramble suggestions


Original Post
Dan Richards · · Foothill Ranch CA · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 5

Hey! So I have 3 to 4 days of hiking and scrambling in the Eastside. Apparently I'm that basic that I'm asking for suggestions... I usually have a climbing objective, but I'll be solo. So now I'm left with coming up with an idea. Any favorites? I'm comfy soloing up to easy 5th, but fine if I just hike. More interested in aesthetics and chilling. 

Thanks for the input,

Dan

Aaron Slaven · · Fresno, CA · Joined Dec 2010 · Points: 445

It's pretty heavy snow year as you know. If you're an ice ax & crampons kind of guy then I'm sure there is plenty to choose from. A lot the 14er's are nicely accessible from the east side and make for great trips. Again, not sure when you're doing this or how much snow you like, but Williamson/Tyndall peak bag via Shepard's pass is a good one. If you don't mind the 4wd drive road to Red Lake TH then Split Mountain makes a good 2 day trip. Good solos on easy 5th is the NE ridge of BCS but the approach is maxed with snow. Not sure how the NE ridge of LPP is doing but that makes for a full outing from Whitney Portal. If it's pure hiking you're looking for, then I'd suggest Thousand Island Lakes etc. It's busy with the crowds but totally deserving in my opinion. If it's 100% chilling and hiking, then probably something in the Cottonwood Lakes Basin out of Horseshoe meadow.

Dan Richards wrote:

Hey! So I have 3 to 4 days of hiking and scrambling in the Eastside. Apparently I'm that basic that I'm asking for suggestions... I usually have a climbing objective, but I'll be solo. So now I'm left with coming up with an idea. Any favorites? I'm comfy soloing up to easy 5th, but fine if I just hike. More interested in aesthetics and chilling. 

Thanks for the input,

Dan

amockalypsenow · · San Diego · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 685

There are still snowy sections on some/many sierra traverses right now. Are you comfortable meandering on snow?

hailman · · Sacramento, CA · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 45

For your consideration...last week I hiked up the Horton Lakes drainage and climbed the north slopes of Basin Mtn. The approach was long for me (didn't get my car very far up Buttermilk Rd) but super chill...the hike is almost entirely desert scrub with just a few snow patches and wet spots. There is an old miner camp with some cabins above Horton Lake and if you don't mind sleeping in the dank cabin...leave the tent behind!

There is some ridge traversing to be had along Basin's west ridge...a bit contrived but it was fun nonetheless. Oh yeah...from the summit you can see the Palisades, Darwin, Goddard, and you're pretty much on top of Humphreys. Sweet view.

A dude was mountain biking down Buttermilk Rd on the way out...he was having a blast. Very jealous to say the least.

Dan Richards · · Foothill Ranch CA · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 5

Thanks for the input guys! I'm definitely going to need to bring snow gear for this trip.  I'll check conditions on LPP, that's been on my bucket list. Haven't been to horseshoe or cottonwood in years, so that's an option. Maybe Kearsarge.  Any other ideas?

Thanks, 

Dan

Dan Richards · · Foothill Ranch CA · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 5
amockalypsenow wrote:

There are still snowy sections on some/many sierra traverses right now. Are you comfortable meandering on snow?

Yes I'm very comfortable on snow and ice. I'm expecting heavy snow crossing at the minimum. I was also considering the East ridge of Russel. What do you have in mind?

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 10,204

Crystal Crag by Mammoth Lakes is a great granite scrambling peak. See on MP for multiple ideas -- but there (used to be ?) two area pages for Crystal Crag, so find both.

I've only started exploring Little Lakes Valley / Rock Creek. Big advantage is high parking close to the fun Sierra ridge-crest (second to C C above). So far I've been rewarded by some ridge stuff on Little Lakes Peak and Mt Starr. This summer plan to try longer approaches farther in S.

If you've got a trail-running bent, the N->S traverse of North Peak (with a long pretty approach past Saddlebag (and other) Lakes). If bring a rope for two rappels (or feel like you there's a good chance you can work out a 5.6 down-climb sequence), than can extend the ridge traverse (over a worthwhile unnamed peak) to an ascent of the somewhat-famous North Ridge of Mt Conness. If want detailed beta, check the Comments on the MP route page. If want more adventure, read only the main North Ridge descrip (or only the Comments that don't _look_ like detailed beta).

Not sure how many places on the ridges you'll run into snow this year. Most of the climbing/ scrambling is on the West side of the ridges (esp the way lots of people do N ridge of Conness -- avoiding most of the fun climbing on and near the ridge crest). But the start of North Peak might sheltered N-facing.

Ken

Guy Keesee · · Moorpark, CA · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 310

Look up "Diamond Peak" in the Secor Book ......     a killer hike, good snow chutes and a 2/3 rd class ridge to a fine summit. 


Chris Owen · · Big Bear Lake · Joined Jan 2002 · Points: 10,061
brian burke · · santa monica, ca · Joined Nov 2013 · Points: 115

mt dade in little lakes basin is a chill approach, fun snow climb to fun rock scramble to the summit.  would recomend 100%.

the only bummer about doing russel is having to deal with getting a permit.  if you're solo it should be chill to get a walk-up for the next day though. 

Dan Richards · · Foothill Ranch CA · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 5
brian burke wrote:

mt dade in little lakes basin is a chill approach, fun snow climb to fun rock scramble to the summit.  would recomend 100%.

the only bummer about doing russel is having to deal with getting a permit.  if you're solo it should be chill to get a walk-up for the next day though. 

I attempted a solo accent of Dade and BCS this last winter, got shut down hard with a major storm approaching.  Maybe try again with better conditions. Still snow, but great weather

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 10,204
brian burke wrote:

the only bummer about doing russel is having to deal with getting a permit.

There are different opinions about the East ridge of Mt Russell. My view is that you can do it either the 3rd class way or the low-5th-class way.

Perhaps the 3rd-class way might rank highly among 3rd class routes in the Sierra, but really most of it is not on the crest of the ridge (rather mainly on the N side of the ridge), and mostly class 2 (not much interesting scrambling).

Since the original poster said he can handle low-5th-class, there's lots of other routes on the Eastside Sierra with way more interesting scrambling/climbing than the Mt Russell 3rd class way.
. . . (and being on the N side of a 14000 ft peak does not sound like a good bet this year).

But the low-5th class way to Mt Russell East ridge is unsatisfying because many of the gendarmes / "mini-peaks" on the crest of the ridge cannot be crossed up-and-over at anything like a low-5th difficulty - (actually I think adjacent Mt Carillon is better for low-5th scrambling).

Anyway (even with a permit) it's just a long ways up into there for the amount of good scrambling you get.
. . . (and the long steep SE scree slope up to the Russell-Carillon col is not much fun either up or down.
. . . . except on skis?)
Lots of other low-5th routes have more "payback" for the amount of labor and time (not to mention permit hassle).

So I think you do the East ridge not because it ranks highly among the Sierra scrambling routes, but because you feel you need/want to tick the summit of Mt Russell.

Ken

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 10,204
Chris Owen wrote:

https://www.mountainproject.com/v/northeast-ridge/105806337

https://www.mountainproject.com/v/east-arete/106736873

North Ridge of Mount Johnson.

NE ridge of Bear Creek Spire -- Yes for sure is a classic low-5th route.
But a longer approach hike (though pretty) than other scrambling routes in Little Lakes Valley. If I'm going to hike in that far, I'd like to also do some other nearby scrambling as payback for my labor. (To be explored more this summer later).

East ridge of Mt Humphreys has the problem of the driving conditions of the Buttermilks road. Without a vehicle and skill + zeal to drive high, it gets to be a lot of work for the amount of payback. It's not like the "arete" / knife-edge(?) / narrow ridge crest starts at lower altitude on the route -- so not a short thing even if can start high (and carrying the extra weight of a rope?) . . . (I've had some ideas for how to avoid the driving).

Mt Johnson I hadn't thought of -- thanks for the idea.
Some people think Hurd Peak (closer to the South Lake trailhead) has some worthwhile scrambling.
. . . (It's just hard for me to imagine visiting the South Lake area without skis on my feet. This year I had the wonderful treat of skiing across the lake covered with ice several times -- possible because there was actually enough water to call it a "lake").

Ken

Fat Dad · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 60

I don't remember seeing when exactly you were planning on going.  Late July will probably look alot like what April did in previous years, though I'm sure it's melting pretty quickly.  Little Lakes Valley has quite a bit of accessible stuff.  Mt. Abbot looks fun.  Never done it but on my list.  Snow to some third class ledges to the crest and up.  Someone mentioned Dade, which is right next door and also looks fun. 

Little Lakes Peaks to Mt. Morgan traverse is a blast.  The NE Arete of BCS is great, but don't veer too far off the crest or it will get alot trickier.  Also, I found downclimbing from the summit not as straightforward as hoped.  

It's a bit of a walk, but Red and White Mt. is a nice class three. Terrific geology back in there.  Never done the Nevahbe Ridge on Mt. Morgan (N), but it's right there off of 395.  

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 10,204
Fat Dad wrote:

Never done the Nevahbe Ridge on Mt. Morgan (N), but it's right there off of 395.  

Me neither, but Nevahbe Ridge was in the 1st edition Moynier guidebook (then dropped from the 2nd edition). 

Last summer I found and bought a new guidebook to scrambling / hiking in an 8.5 x 11 inch spiral-bound format at Mammoth Mountaineering Supply.

That book has Nevahbe Ridge with a different start.

It also has a route to the summit of Mt Morrison (perhaps the most dramatic Eastside peak north of Bishop when viewed from rt 395) which looks interesting. And I've heard another recommendation for a different scrambling route. Despite the reputation of Mt Morrison for bad rock.
. . . (so this spring I persuaded some long-time partners from Germany + Utah to ski on Mt Morrison with the rock covered or frozen -- which didn't work out in an obviously successful way -- but I learned a lot, so I remain interested to try scrambling on Mt Mo).

Ken

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 10,204
Fat Dad wrote:

Little Lakes Peaks to Mt. Morgan traverse is a blast. 

Yes I've been wanting to finish that. Getting to Mt Morgan from LLPk is fairly clear, using Morgan's SW ridge.

But there are at least three ideas about how to start on Little Lakes Peak. 

Moynier's guidebook seemed to suggest doing the whole SW ridge, but it sounded like it was going to start with difficult friction slabs. I'm not a fan of friction slabs, and the base of the SW ridge is much farther from Parking. So . . .

My first try was the NNW Ridge (because it looked interesting, and it's closest to the parking) -- and I liked that a lot. But another guy did not, I thing because he felt it had too much loose rock. And he suggested the SW ridge as likely to have more sound rock.

So later I tried starting up the W face and meeting the SW ridge higher up (which I think was Fat Dad's suggestion). On the SW ridge I did find some talus sections not what I call "scrambling" (or fun), but also some great scrambling sections -- and I was having a rather fun time on those, and thinking the SW ridge was a great idea. 

Until I grabbed onto a sizable rock which turned out to be loose. After a long slow scramble+hike out, got myself into the Mammoth Lakes hospital emergency room to have my wounds cleaned up. Which rather luckily turned out to be superficial (though sufficiently painful in healing).

I'm not saying I'll never try the SW ridge again, whether from the bottom or partway up, but of course I would be more careful next time -- and of course I now do not regard it as a site of more sound rock than other angles on LLPk.

So as of now, my plan for a full traverse of LLPk + Mt Morgan (South) would start w NNW ridge of LLPk.

Ken

Dan Richards · · Foothill Ranch CA · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 5

Thank you for all the great ideas! Awesome thread! I'm also considering mount Winchells east arete. Great hiking on the N. fork of Big pine creek . Any thoughts on that?

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275
Dan Richards wrote:

Thank you for all the great ideas! Awesome thread! I'm also considering mount Winchells east arete. Great hiking on the N. fork of Big pine creek . Any thoughts on that?

I've done that, after setting up camp in Sam Mack Meadow. And it was a long day from there. Fun outing, though.  It would take someone a lot fitter than me (which isn't saying much) to do it car-to-car in a day.

Edit: The greater amount of snow this year would make the approach easier over the talus.

tallguy · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 0

Mt Carl Heller.  East arete.  Striking, lonely, and you'll be the only person you know who has done it.

Dan Richards · · Foothill Ranch CA · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 5

Mt Carl Heller looks perfect! Thanks!

Chris Owen · · Big Bear Lake · Joined Jan 2002 · Points: 10,061

Just got back from Little Lakes Valley - pay careful attention to water; even the trails were creeks, and the creeks were full on rivers. Whatever you pick research the water crossings. It's warm - snow was soft and deep in the afternoon.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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