“Looking southward along the axis of the range, the eye is first caught by a row of exceedingly sharp and slender spires, which rise openly to a height of about a thousand feet, above a series of short, residual glaciers that lean back against their bases, their fantastic sculpture and the unrelieved sharpness with which they spring out of the ice rendering them peculiarly wild and striking. These are the “Minarets”. Beyond them you behold a sublime wilderness of mountains, their snowy summits towering together in crowded abundance, peak beyond peak, swelling higher, higher as they sweep on southward, until the culminating point of the range is reached on Mount Whitney...”
What was for Muir one of his most difficult ascents is now for us a delightful and not too hard excursion.
This trip uses the services of the Agnew Meadows Pack Station to get our gear and equipment enabling us to set up a comfortable camp from which to climb. On this trip we take care of the cooking, supply the menu so you can sit back and enjoy the stunning surroundings.
Day One: Hiking the six miles without heavy packs allows us to take an easy leisurely hike up the San Joaquin River from Agnew Meadows, past beautiful Shadow Lake and up to camp in the vicinity of tranquil Lake Ediza.
Day Two: We will take an acclimatization scramble up nearby Volcanic Ridge which has a great view of the Minarets and the entire Ritter range north into the Yosemite High Country. This also preps us for our ascents of Ritter or Banner or both over days three and four.
Day Three and Four: For Mount Banner we will ascend to the Ritter-Banner Saddle via some 3rd class climbing and then make our way up easy talus slopes to the summit. On Mount Ritter we have two choices: The North Face above the Ritter-Banner Saddle: this is the route that John Muir first climbed. Or we can climb the South-east Glacier route which involves more snow climbing. Which one we take will depend upon route conditions and the objectives of group members.
Day Five: We pack up and return to the vehicles by late afternoon.
Guidebooks include Secor's “The High Sierra; Peaks, Passes and Trails”. We highly recommend that you spend at least one night at moderate altitude (higher than 8,000') just prior to the trip. Spending a night in Mammoth or camped at the trailhead campground would do the trick. Please refer to our Planning for Success info sheet for more info.
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