The South Face of Clyde Minaret

A superb and classic face climb and one of the coveted “50 Classic Climbs of North America”, this is a route for the experienced climber. Situated on the sheer south face of the highest of the serrated Minarets, this 14 pitch route seems improbably steep. Square cut holds and sharp-edged cracks everywhere allow interesting and rarely easy climbing on compact metamorphosed volcanic rock. Route finding difficulties have given this route a reputation but after dozens of ascents we have it “wired”. Climbers who have skied at Mammoth have no doubt looked over to the imposing Minarets and marveled at their intimidating look.


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.

You can also get our very detailed unpublished SMC Guide to Clyde Minaret.

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 in the Bridgeport area would do the trick. Please refer to our Planning for Success info sheet for more info.

Bears are also a major problem at the trailhead. Do not leave any food, scented items (deodorant, soap etc.) in your vehicle. Clean up all trash and do not leave food, coolers, or food packaging in your vehicle. Failure to take precautions can cause the vehicle to be ripped apart by a bear and the added insult of a fine from the Forest Service. It is necessary to carry bear proof food storage containers on this trip. We provide these.

Return to Classic Alpine Rock Climbs

Day 1:
We start from the Agnew Meadows Trailhead at the hairpin turn on the road from Mammoth Mountain to Devils Postpile. We travel up the San Joaquin River and ascend to beautiful Shadow Lake. The trail continues up to Lake Ediza where it deteriorates. We continue to climb past Iceberg Lake to our bivvy sites above Cecile Lake beneath the face. Even though we gain over 2000’ on the approach, it is spread out over 8.5 miles.

Day 2:
In contrast, the climbing day is a long one. A pre-dawn start sees us leaving camp at first light and shortly after we are at the rope up point. The first pitch sets the tone that remains for the rest of the route: devious routefinding, exposure and interesting climbing that is quite unique (especially in comparison to typical Sierra granite climbs). Belays are usually spacious but the climbing remains continuous the length of the route, with several crux sections. Most pitches have some 5.8 climbing and can be up to 5.9. Fourteen pitches later we reach the summit. After taking time to enjoy the view we descend via the notch between Clyde Minaret and Ken Minaret or via the “Rock Route” on the east side. Which one we choose depends upon snow conditions. We reach camp late in the afternoon, just in time for dinner and bed.

Day 3:
We wake up and have an enjoyable breakfast, then begin our hike out. We plan to arrive at the trailhead around lunchtime.

Elevations and Distances
Trailhead to camp: 8.5 miles, 2300’ of gain, 555’ of descent
Camp to summit to camp: 1.0 miles, 1920’ of gain, 1920’ of descent
Trailhead to camp: 8.5 miles, 555’ of gain, 2300’ of descent


Program Prerequisites:

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 5.8 level and have experience on multi pitch routes.

Program Inclusions:

Price includes guiding, 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 for your trip
  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:

Clyde Minaret map

Rental Equipment:

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