Mountaineering is a spectacular way to enjoy the mountains with less travel on main trails. This trip is an introduction to mountaineering and backpacking in the Sierra, and a good start for those looking to gain more backcountry skills. There are many peaks that do not require you to carry heavy loads at high elevations but which also give truly spectacular views. Additionally, our campsite gives you the chance to just sit by a lake, far removed from the worries of everyday life after having climbed a 13,000 foot peak. If you’re looking for an introduction to backpacking, along with climbing a non-technical peak, this course is for you!
Nestled in the Little Lakes Basin below towering rock crags, Ruby Lake is a gem of a weekend getaway in the high Sierra. It is a moderate hike to our camp where spectacular scenery and tranquil waters await.
Our climb begins by taking the trail over Mono Pass then travels cross country to the summit of Mt. Starr where breathtaking views will welcome you atop this 12,835’ peak. We will return to camp, enjoying our last evening watching the sunset under the peerless Sierra sky.
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We will meet at Toms Place. There we will do introductions, a gear check then carpool to the Mosquito Flats Trailhead (~10,000’). Our hike will take us along the Mono Pass trail to Ruby Lake. The hike is not very long and steadily gain elevation to the lake. At camp, we will discuss various topics related to backpacking, including campsite selection and Leave No Trace ethics.
We will travel on the trail to Mono Pass, then head cross country to the summit of Mt. Starr. From the summit you will be treated with views of the stunning Little Lakes basin. Upon returning to camp, relax in the sun (and nap if you like), swim in the lake or just enjoy the scenery.
We will have a leisurely breakfast, pack up camp, then hike back to our cars. We plan to arrive at the trailhead around lunchtime.
Distances and elevations
Day 1 – Trailhead to Ruby Lake camp: 2.3 miles, 1280 feet of gain, 400 feet of down
Day 2 – Camp to Mt Starr and back: 4.0 miles, 2500 feet of gain, 2500 feet of down
Day 3 – Camp to Trailhead: 2.3 miles, 400 feet of gain, 1280 feet of down
No prior climbing experience is necessary but prior backpacking and wilderness travel is helpful.
Price includes guiding, permits, tents, cooking equipment and breakfast, lunch and dinner daily (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)
- Details, Itinerary and Equipment List
Check out our Women on the Trail information sheet for more information on being in the wilderness as a woman.
- SMC Cancellation Policy
- Suggestions on preparation - get the most out of your trip!
- Tips on physical training for your trip
- LNT - Let's work together to protect our precious mountain environment.
Women's Peak Climb Map
Need to rent equipment for your trip? We can help.