Mt. Williamson (14,375 feet) is the second highest peak in California, behind Mt. Whitney (14,505 feet). The few feet it lacks in elevation it more than makes up for in difficulty and the work involved to climb it. There are no easy ways up this peak, nor are there any easy ways up Mt. Tyndall (14,015 feet), Williamson’s neighbor just to the west. The good news is that both these peaks are much less often climbed than their higher companion to the south (Whitney) and both offer astounding views and an enjoyable amount of moderate mountaineering. Mt. Williamson’s west face route was first climbed in 1903 by a group led by the redoubtable Joseph Le Conte. The route is primarily class two and three, but just below the summit plateau a short steep headwall blocks the way. A short rope length takes us through this and on to the summit. We descend the same way.
Mt. Tyndall is a far more graceful peak than its neighbor and our chosen route, the Northwest Ridge, is a perfect fourth class ridge. Often in the Sierra, the easier routes tend to be loose and mainly covered in talus. This ridge, however, offers great scrambling over huge blocks and narrow ridge traverses on wonderful rock. For trivia buffs the peak is named for the scientist who first developed a theory as to why the sky is blue.
This area lies within the range of the Sierra bighorn sheep and we need to be aware of these animals and the need not to disturb them. There are few of these magnificent animals left and we will be doing our part to avoid disturbing them.
For a map look at the Mt. Williamson 7.5 minute map. Guide books include Secor’s “The High Sierra; Peaks, Passes and Trails” and “Climbing California’s Fourteeners” by Porcella and Burns.
This is a strenuous trip. The climb to camp at the pass involves around 6000’ of elevation gain on day one, with a full pack. If you would prefer to add an extra day to the trip, please contact us to work out details. This would allow us to split up the first day’s ascent into two days, and allow for more acclimatization at the start of the trip.
Please refer to our Planning for Success info sheet for more info.