There are a handful of High Sierra backcountry climbs that are reasonable to do in a day car to car and this is one of our favorites. A beautiful initial hike to the start of the route past sparkling lakes and high alpine tundra and meadows takes us to the saddle between North Peak and Mt Conness. Once on the route great climbing leads to the summit, with views of Tuolumne Meadows and beyond. From the summit we descend via a use trail back to the cars. All the better that you get a hot shower and a cold drink at the end of it all. And if we are in time you may have the opportunity to sample the legendary Fish Tacos at the Mobil Mart in Lee Vining.
The best guidebooks are Supertopo’s “High Sierra Climbing” by Chris McNamara. and Peter Croft’s “The Good, The Great, and the Awesome”.
Get them from Maximus Press.
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 would do the trick or better yet, camped at an even higher trailhead, such as the Sawmill Creek Campground on the Saddlebag Lake Road or in Tuolumne (Yosemite), for a night just before the trip. Please refer to our Planning for Success info sheet for more info.
Return to Classic Alpine Rock Climbs
This is a one day climb. We meet early and plan on a 10 to 12 hour day round trip. We meet at the Saddlebag Lake parking area, trying to get going pretty early for the climb, often at first light, depending on the time of year.
We approach via the Saddlebag Lake Trail as it traverses around the lake for a mile before flattening out at the head of the lake near Greenstone Lake. We continue past small lakes and tarns, steadily climbing towards a pass between Mt Conness and North Peak. As we near the pass the route steepens and becomes loose and sandy. Soon after, we reach the pass and are at the start of the ridge.
Once on the ridge the going gets progressively more difficult until finally we rope up, staying that way until the top. We first top out on a small tower and then do a short rappel to gain the main ridge section. Much of this portion is fourth class but several sections in the middle offer mid fifth class, as well as some interesting possible variations near the top. Overall, plan on several hours of fourth class and half a dozen pitches of fifth class climbing. A use trail from the summit leads back to our trailhead. The round trip can take anywhere from eight to twelve hours.
You should be in good physical condition, have some backpacking experience and have the ability to traverse broken uneven slopes with a moderate pack. Prior experience at altitudes above 10,000’ is recommended. You need to be able to follow at the 5.6 level and have experience on multi pitch routes.
Price includes guiding, permits and group climbing gear.
Local accommodation is not included in the program.
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Details, itinerary, and equipment list for your trip
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- Tips on physical training for your trip
- LNT - Let's work together to protect our precious mountain environments.
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