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Mt. Emerson

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North Couloir T 
Southeast Face (aka the Waterfall Route) T 

Mt. Emerson Rock Climbing 

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Elevation: 13,225'
Location: 37.242, -118.653 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 12,645
Administrators: Chris Owen, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: fossana on Jun 7, 2010

49° | 26°

31° | 17°

31° | 17°

36° | 19°

41° | 24°

45° | 26°
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Mount Emerson seen from above Lake Sabrina.


Named in 1873 by John Muir after the poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mt. Emerson is a frequently overlooked Sierra peak. RJ Secor (The High Sierra: Peaks, Passes & Trails) describes 5 routes that will satisfy both mixed route aficionados and scramblers alike. Additional information on the N Face is available from Moynier & Fiddler in California's High Sierra.

  • W Ridge (Class 3 from Piute Pass)
  • S Slope (Class 3 from 0.25 miles past Loch Leven)
  • SE Face (5.4 chimney, leaving the Piute Pass trail before Loch Leven)
  • SW Ridge (Class 3 from the couloir between Piute Crags and Emerson)
  • N Face (Class 4 mixed route from the cirque between Peak 1)

Getting There 

For all routes but the N Face:
Passenger cars OK. From central Bishop head W on highway 168 (aka W Line Street) for ~18 miles, passing the S Lake turn-off. Take the right-hand turn onto N Lake Rd. In early the season the road is gated and this will add ~1.7 miles to the trailhead. Unless you are camping at the N Lake campground you will need to park at the large hiker lot and walk the ~0.4 miles to the trailhead. From the campground take the trail toward Piute Pass.

For the N Face:
High clearance required, 4x4 recommended. From central Bishop head W on highway 168 (aka W Line Street) for ~10 miles to Dutch Johns Meadows Road (unmarked) behind an old wilderness kiosk on your right. Head SW the due W along the road, taking a left-hand fork at ~6.2 miles toward the McGee Creek trailhead. Cross country toward the S Fork of McGee Creek. Aim for the cirque between Checkered Demon (Peak 13,112) and Emerson.

Climbing Season

Weather station 2.6 miles from here

2 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',0],['3 Stars',1],['2 Stars',1],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Mt. Emerson

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Mt. Emerson:
Southeast Face (aka the Waterfall Route)   5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c     Trad, Alpine, Grade II   
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Mt. Emerson

Featured Route For Mt. Emerson
Rock Climbing Photo: Lisa on one of the many gendarmes on the Emerson r...

Southeast Face (aka the Waterfall Route) 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c  California : High Sierra : ... : Mt. Emerson
Short approach for a fun alpine route on solid rock with varied climbing. Short 5.4 crux. Note that the chimney may be wet in early season or if there is significant rainfall during otherwise drier months. The route is water polished, so be prepared.RouteClimb the 5.4 crack. If the chimney is too wet there you can climb the face to the right of a second chimney, which is just to the right of the normal route. The chimney is blocked with a large chockstone at which point you can ...[more]   Browse More Classics in California

Photos of Mt. Emerson Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Arrows mark the start of the 5.4 SE Face route, at...
BETA PHOTO: Arrows mark the start of the 5.4 SE Face route, at...
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking up easy talus field to start of climb.  Pi...
BETA PHOTO: Looking up easy talus field to start of climb. Pi...
Rock Climbing Photo: ridge on the SW Face route
ridge on the SW Face route

Comments on Mt. Emerson Add Comment
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By Todd Townsend
From: Bishop, CA
Apr 14, 2014
Keep in mind that some people refer to this as the "waterfall route." As far as I know, the gate is still closed at Aspendell, so there will be some extra mileage as well. Having said that, have fun and don't forget to fill us in on how it went.
By Gracie
From: Yosemite, CA
Aug 11, 2015
Greetings Folks! I found a camera this past weekend in the boulder field, near the base of the waterfall route on Mt. Emerson, that had been sitting out there for quite a while. If this rings a bell to you, and you have been searching near and far for your camera/pictures, send me an email! Tell me some details about yourself and a description of the camera, so I can get it back to its rightful owner.

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