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High Sierra

Select Area...
01 - Hoover Wilderness 
02 - The Sawtooth Ridge 
03 - Lyell Group 
04 - Ritter and the Minarets 
05 - Convict Lake & McGee Creek 
06 - Little Lakes Valley & Mono Recesses 
07 - Humphreys Basin, Pine Creek and Granite Park 
08 - Bishop Pass and Evolution 
09 - Palisades and Surrounding Peaks 
10 - Kearsarge Pass to Cedar Grove 
11 - Great Western and Kings/Kern Divide 
12 - Shepherd Pass 
13 - Whitney and Surrounding Peaks 
Outlying Areas 
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
Kamikaze
The eponymous trail of the Mammoth Kamikaze Bike Games, this is one of the mountain's hardest tracks Near Mammoth Lakes, California
From MP's sister site: MTB Project

High Sierra Rock Climbing 


Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Location: 37.27551, -118.67656 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 547,297
Administrators: Chris Owen, M.Morley, Salamanizer, Justin Johnsen, Adam Stackhouse, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Nick Wilder on Jan 29, 2006
Forecast:
Today

32° | 13°
Tuesday

25° | 13°
Wednesday

29° | 17°
Thursday

35° | 24°
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35° | 20°
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35° | 20°
You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
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North Peak from the 20 Lakes Basin

Description 

John Muir's Range of Light...after visiting this area for 35 years I still find myself in two states of existence, being in the Sierra and dreaming of being in the Sierra.

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.

Interesting reading from the Ranger Reports.

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 and Hwy 395 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. Also, be aware that east side approach permits which end camping in either SEKI or Yosemite will require pick up the morning of the hike - not an option for an early start. East side permits ending in Inyo National Forest can be picked up the night before by calling (760) 873-2483.

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

Areas are listed from North to South (00 to 13)

Bears and Food Storage
Regulations for food storage differ by area, Inyo National Forest (majority of east side approaches) allows use of the Ursack which is a good solution for people not wanting to tote a heavy bear canister. Be aware that once you cross over the main crest you may be in a National Park, with different regulations. Check with SEKI or Yosemite NPS before using the Ursack there.

Secure food storage (canister or Ursack) is REQUIRED in Bishop Pass, Duck Pass/Purple Lake Area, Cottonwood Lakes Basin, Mammoth Lakes/Rush Creek, Fish Creek Area, Little Lakes Valley, Kearsarge Pass Area, Whitney Area. Everywhere else in Inyo it is RECOMMENDED.

Climbing Season



Weather station 5.2 miles from here

253 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',39],['3 Stars',119],['2 Stars',60],['1 Star',13],['Bomb',2]
['<=5.6',108],['5.7',23],['5.8',17],['5.9',13],['5.10',52],['5.11',15],['5.12',13],['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]

Classic Climbing Routes in High Sierra

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for High Sierra:
Northeast Ridge   Easy 5th 1+ 3 I 5 M 1c     Trad, Alpine   06 - Little Lakes Valley & ... : Bear Creek Spire
Southeast Face (aka the Waterfall Route)   5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c     Trad, Alpine, Grade II   07 - Humphreys Basin, Pine ... : Mt. Emerson
North Ridge   5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a     Trad, Alpine, Grade III   13 - Whitney and Surroundin... : Lone Pine Peak
East Buttress   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, Alpine, 11 pitches, 1000'   13 - Whitney and Surroundin... : Mt. Whitney
East Face   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, Alpine, 10 pitches, 1000'   13 - Whitney and Surroundin... : Mt. Whitney
Southeast Face   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, Alpine, 13 pitches, 1500'   04 - Ritter and the Minaret... : Clyde Minaret
North Arete   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, Alpine, 6 pitches, 1000'   06 - Little Lakes Valley & ... : Bear Creek Spire
South Face   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, Alpine, 12 pitches, 1500'   10 - Kearsarge Pass to Ceda... : Charlotte Dome
Fishhook Arête   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, Alpine, 8 pitches, 1000'   13 - Whitney and Surroundin... : Mt. Russell
Thunderbolt to Sill Traverse   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, Alpine, 5280'   09 - Palisades and Surround... : Thunderbolt Peak
Evolution Traverse   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, Alpine, 5 pitches, 12000'   08 - Bishop Pass and Evolut... : Mt. Darwin
Mithril Dihedral   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Trad, Alpine, 6 pitches, 500'   13 - Whitney and Surroundin... : Mt. Russell
Sun Ribbon Arete   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, Alpine, 22 pitches, 2000'   09 - Palisades and Surround... : Temple Crag
Red Dihedral (aka "Yggdrasil")   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, Alpine, 12 pitches, 1500'   02 - The Sawtooth Ridge : Incredible Hulk
The Polish Route   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Trad, Alpine, 6 pitches, 900'   02 - The Sawtooth Ridge : Incredible Hulk
Bastille Buttress - Beckey Route   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b A0     Trad, Aid, Alpine, 15 pitches, 2000'   13 - Whitney and Surroundin... : Lone Pine Peak
Positive Vibrations   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, Alpine, 12 pitches, 1200'   02 - The Sawtooth Ridge : Incredible Hulk
Sunspot Dihedral   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Trad, Alpine, 9 pitches, 1200'   02 - The Sawtooth Ridge : Incredible Hulk
The Venturi Effect   5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b     Trad, Alpine, 10 pitches, 1200'   02 - The Sawtooth Ridge : Incredible Hulk
Solar Flare   5.12+ 7c 28 IX 27 E6 6b     Trad, Alpine, 9 pitches, 1000'   02 - The Sawtooth Ridge : Incredible Hulk
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in High Sierra

Featured Route For High Sierra
Rock Climbing Photo: 24-September-2010: 3.5 pitches of ice in right cou...

North Face North Couloir (right couloir) AI2  CA : High Sierra : ... : North Peak
Amazing alpine ice route with a relatively short approach. Generally steep snow and 50-55 degree ice for 6 continuous pitches. Generally stay on the right side of the couloir (though both sides can be climbed) because the slope of the chute funnels rock and ice to the left side. I have seen this climb in various conditions from steep neve mixed with ice to bullet-proof steep blue ice from top to bottom. I have never seen it as a snow couloir as is shown in S.P. Parker's guidebook.The North C...[more]   Browse More Classics in CA

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

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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