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Little Lakes Peak
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NNW Ridge 

YDS: Easy 5th French: 1+ Ewbanks: 3 UIAA: I ZA: 5 British: M 1c

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 3300', Grade II
Original:  YDS: Easy 5th French: 1+ Ewbanks: 3 UIAA: I ZA: 5 British: M 1c [details]
Page Views: 91
Submitted By: kenr on Feb 11, 2017

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BETA PHOTO: Little Lakes Peak with ascent route NNW Ridge mark...


A ridge often narrow in the midst of pretty mountains and lakes, not far from high parking. Ridge has several gendarmes and at least one knife-edge section. Rock is mostly featured fractured granite often turned in unusual angles. Length of climbing more than Mt Conness North Ridge, but different style of granite and less dramatic large-scale situation (though the section-by-section exposure is enough real).

Ridge crest is exposed to weather erosion and not climbed much (yet), so be very careful of loose or breaking rock. Some intrusions of more breakable black rock, so be even more careful with that.

difficulty: The idea of this route is get up the ridge while avoiding unnecessary difficulties, by not climbing up some of the "gendarmes", and otherwise going off the crest to one side or the other where that seems easier. An older print guidebook rated it class 4, but even if using an "indirect" strategy, best to expect to need to do a couple of class 5 moves.
. . (A different idea is to try to stay on the crest as much as possible, and to consciously
. . . seek out more interesting climbing sections: - - > See this Route description).

approach: From the Mosquito Flats trailhead parking (GPS lat long ~ N37.4352 W118.7470) - (altitude 10240ft / 3122m) take the Morgan Lakes hiking trail -[ map ]- SSW about 1.5 miles / 2.5km. Just S of Box Lake turn Left (E) off the trail (at GPS lat long N37.4127 W118.7563).
- - . . See off-trail bushwhacking route on Map . . - -
Cross the creek and hike around the end of Box Lake, then SE up (no trail) through open forest about 0.5 mile / 0.8km from the maintained trail (to around GPS lat long N37.4093 W118.7500) - (altidude 10775ft / 3285m).

Next start aiming more SSE - (trend more left for more meadow + creek, more right for warmup rock-scrambling sections) - for about 0.35 mile / 0.6km (to GPS lat long N37.4054 W118.7468). See the ridge rising up ahead, and head S to start some scrambling on granite in 100 yards. The more sustained climbing starts around GPS lat long (N37.4025 W118.7467) - (altitude 11450ft/3490m).

climb: Follow (more or less) the ridge going SSE until it meets the SW ridge about 150 yards from the summit, then E up that to the top of Little Lakes Peak.
Key point is that the first big granite tower/gendarme blocking the ridge cannot be climbed directly except at much higher difficulty. But getting around its east (left) side is pretty exposed and perhaps more difficult than low 5th class (with some loose rock). So likely prefer to scramble around below the west (right) side of this tower.
For discussion of some details and difficulties, see this Route description.

descent: The "normal" descent would be down the South face to reach the trail a bit E of Morgan Pass (about 1670 vertical ft / 500m of talus+scree over a distance of 0.6 mile/1km), then NW + N on the maintained Morgan Pass trail about 3.5mile/6km to parking.
. . (note: That's a lot of talus+scree to cross before reaching the trail).

For additional descent or return options, see this Route description.

  • vertical difference (betw parking + summit: +2545ft / 775m
  • hiking approach vertical (including downs+ups): +1300 ft / 390m
  • hiking approach distance: 2.4 mile / 4.0km
  • total distance approach+climb ascent route: 3.2 mile / 5.2km

For additional statistics, see this Route description.


Little Lakes Peak (GPS lat long ~ N37.3959 W118.7417) - (altitude 12785ft / 3897m) - [ see on map ]
in the midst of the Rock Creek valley, between Box Lake, Chickenfoot Lake, Morgan Pass, and Mt Morgan.

driving: Rt 395 to Toms Place (GPS lat long ~ N37.5618 W118.6773) - (north of Bishop + Mt Whitney, south of Mammoth Lakes + Yosemite). Turn SW onto the Rock Creek road and continue SSW about 10.5 miles / 17km to its end at the
Mosquito Flats trailhead parking (GPS lat long ~ N37.4352 W118.7470) - (altitude 10240ft / 3122m).
Snow is not plowed to the end in winter.


No fixed protection.
Suggest light trad rack, since any belayed pitches would be fairly short.
Additional long slings for wrapping around horns.

Photos of NNW Ridge Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Little Lakes Peak seen from NW, with some ascent a...
BETA PHOTO: Little Lakes Peak seen from NW, with some ascent a...
Rock Climbing Photo: Little Lakes Peak between Mt Morgan and Rosy Finch...
Little Lakes Peak between Mt Morgan and Rosy Finch...

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