Banner Parents and Kids Camp

Kids enjoy the outdoors – once they get there! But organizing the logistics and getting them enthused can be difficult. So we have put together this trip, which removes the planning headaches from the parents and also gives kids a safe environment to discover the high Sierra, climb a few peaks, do a little rock climbing or to simply sit in the sun and relax. The Ritter Range area north of Mammoth is an ideal location for a basecamp. The approach to our basecamp is around 8 miles with a total elevation gain of about 2200 feet. But we ease the effort required to get to camp by using pack stock to carry the heavy items and we hike easily with a daypack. This leaves us most of the day to get to camp near Thousand Island Lake.

Behind camp are the stunning peaks of Mt. Ritter and Mt. Banner; these give us the opportunity to ascend to around 13,000 feet and gain spectacular views of the Yosemite high country. If parents want to relax in camp, we will take the kids out and work on getting them tired but fulfilled.


the_high_sierra_peaks_passes_trailsGuidebooks include Secor’s “The High Sierra; Peaks, Passes and Trails”.

Since camp during the trip is over 9,000’ we highly recommend that you spend at least one night at moderate altitude (higher than 8,000’) just prior to the trip. Though you will not be carrying a heavy pack during the trip, you will still be working hard hiking and climbing every day. Spending a night in Mammoth, either camping or in a hotel, would do it. Please refer to our Planning for Success info sheet for more info.

Mules have been a traditional way of accessing the Sierra backcountry. They make the mountains accessible to a wider range of people, both young and old. They do enable us to take along some extras to make camp life more relaxed and easy. But we do need to limit people to a 20 pounds per person (this does not include tents). We do weigh the duffles.

We have scheduled dates for climbing these peaks but also undertake it as a custom ascent. Contact us to set this up. On a custom trip we can vary the group size depending upon the number of people who wish to do some climbing. Some family members might just want to stay in camp, hike or do some top roping. If we are doing peak ascents however we want to keep the ratio to a maximum ratio of 1:5 but it is also possible for us to have a second guide to join us just for these climbs.


Return to Take a Load off Your Back

This trip uses the services of the Agnew Meadows Pack Station to get our gear and equipment to camp, enabling us to set up a comfortable camp from which to climb. On this trip we take care of the cooking so you can sit back and enjoy the stunning surroundings.

Day 1

Hiking close to 8 miles without heavy packs allows us to take a leisurely hike up the San Joaquin River from Agnew
Meadows to beautiful Thousand Island Lake. We will set up camp here for the remaining days. The pack stock arrive with our
equipment and then leave.
Distance: 7.75 miles, 2200 feet of gain, 700 feet of loss

Day 2

We will take an acclimatization scramble up nearby Mt. Davis, 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 ascent of Mt. Banner the following day.
Distance: 7.5 miles, 2600 feet of gain, 2600 feet of loss. The summit of Mt. Davis is 12,309’ (3752m).

Day 3

For Mt Banner we will ascend to Lake Catherine via meadows, grass slopes and talus. We skirt the Lake and,
donning crampons and pulling out an ice axe, climb an easy glacial slope to the spectacular Ritter-Banner Saddle. Above this the
route to the summit appears steep and difficult, but in reality we weave our way around the hard sections and scramble up a final
small rock slope to the summit and its spectacular views. We return to camp the way we ascended.
Distance: 7.0 miles, 3400 of gain, 3400 feet of loss. The summit of Mt. Banner is 12,942’ (3945m).

Day 4

We pack up, greet our packers who are returning to pick up our gear and arrive at the vehicles by early afternoon.
Distance: 7.75 miles, 700 feet of gain, 2200 feet of loss

Program Prerequisites:

No prior mountaineering experience is required but you should have some backpacking and hiking experience. You should be in good physical condition, ready to hike up to 8 miles off trail with a day pack at altitude. We do not have an age restriction for kids since everyone is different. But make sure that they are able to do the hike to camp, since once the mules pass us our options become limited and we need to get to the camp.

Program Inclusions:

Price includes guiding, packstock support, permits, group climbing gear, tents, kitchen gear, breakfasts, lunches and dinners (you bring hot/cold drinks and snack items). Scheduled dates include USFS trail fees. Private programs do not.

Local accommodation is not included.

Please Read before you go

We feel the following information is essential... (links open as PDF in new window)

  1. Details, Itinerary, and Equipment List
  2. SMC Cancellation Policy
  3. Suggestions on preparation - get the most out of your trip!
  4. Tips on physical training for your trip
  5. LNT - Let's work together to protect our precious mountain environment.

PDF Maps:

Banner Map

Rental Equipment:

Need to rent equipment for your trip? We can help.