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Routes in Pinnacle Ridge

Pinnacle Pass - North side T Easy 5th 1+ 3 I 5 M 1c
Pinnacle Pass - South side T 3rd 1- 1 I 1 M 1a
Traverse of Pinnacle Ridge T 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c
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Type: Trad, Alpine, 330 ft
FA: unknown
Page Views: 323 total · 6/month
Shared By: kenr on Aug 15, 2014
Admins: Chris Owen, Lurker, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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Access Issue: Certain Peaks: Access limited from May to October every year Details


Interesting way to ascend to or descend from the E end of Pinnacle Ridge, which gives access to/from the South Fork side of the Whitney Zone, or the summit of Thor Peak, or to the traverse of Pinnacle Ridge leading to the east face routes of the Third Needle of Mt Whitney.

Several fun thoughtful moves along the way. Perhaps in the downward direction some might say the difficulty is only class 4 (if the definition of class 4 includes a short overhang with somebody else to guide the feet, and a thoughtful stemming sequence).

Ice or snow will likely cover critical sections of this route during winter and spring, and even into summer especially in big snow years - so crampons and/or ice axe might be necessary, or the route might be impassable.

Permit required: This route requires a USFS wilderness permit for either single-day or overnight use. The permit can be requested in advance in January, or sometimes permits are available the day before by walking into the Mt Whitney Visitors Center just south of Lone Pine - (only available at this center, not at any other USFS centers along the Eastside Sierra).

approach: From the Whitney Portal trailhead parking, follow the normal unmarked climbers route (class 3) up North Fork Lone Pine Creek, past Lower Boy Scout Lake and almost to Upper Boy Scout Lake. A little E before reaching the lake, the normal climbers trail turns S and climb up talus. About 200 yards/meters south of the outlet stream from Upper Boy Scout Lake, around (N36.5799 W118.2712) turn Left off the normal trail, and head SW across slabs about 250 yards/meters to reach the N side of an unnamed lake (altitude 3520m) (lat long ~ N36.5780 W118.2694). Turn SW (right) and go about 300 yards/meters, at first on rock above the NW side of the lake. Then turn S (left) and climb steeper up through big talus to the route (GPS lat long ~ N36.5753 W118.2717).

finding the Bottom: There are at least three left-leaning diagonal lines of weekness in the N face of Pinnacle Pass. Counting from the east (left) this route is the third diagonal weakness, with a higher start than the first two.

finding the Top (for descending): Pinnacle Pass has a wide sandy section sloping gently E and S. The ridge crest is along the N side of this. The top of the route is near the NW corner of this sandy section (GPS lat long approx N36.5754 W118.2703). The first move is roughly straight down about 10 feet into a body-width cleft partly covered by a big rock.

route: Follow the line of weakness, overall diagonal up left, with some steeper crux sections and some gentler easy sections. Some loose rock in the gentler sections, generally sound rock in the crux sections.

descent: Either back the same way, or down the S side.
If doing this route in descent and next heading toward Iceberg Lake ... from the bottom, could head NW about 0.25 mile / 0.4km to hit the N Fk L P Crk climbers trail.


Pinnacle Pass (GPS lat long ~ N36.5754 W118.2703) - (altitude ~ 21150ft / 3700m) is near the E end of Pinnacle Ridge, about 0.25 mile / 0.4km WSW from the summit of Thor Peak.

The bottom (GPS lat long ~ N36.5753 W118.2717) of this N-side normal route is a short distance West of Pinnacle Pass, or about 0.35 mile / 0.6km SSW from Upper Boy Scout Lake, or about 0.7 mile / 1.2km ESE from Iceberg Lake.


No fixed gear or fixed anchors. Trad gear unknown.



More About Pinnacle Pass - North side