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A Climber’s Guide to the High Sierra (1954), edited by Hervey H. Voge


Bond Pass to Tioga Pass

NORTHWARD from Tioga Pass and Tuolumne Meadows peaks of the High Sierra diminish rapidly in elevation and, with a few notable exceptions, in ruggedness as well. Nevertheless this northern portion of Yosemite National Park, and the region to the east, contain much of interest to climbers. The Sawtooth Ridge, which is described as a separate area following these introductory remarks, is outstanding for its clean granite climbs and its accessibility from the east. The other peaks are scattered in a mountain area of quiet charm, and are listed in alphabetical order in the second subdivision of this section.

Many of the peaks may be climbed without encountering technical difficulties, merely by following the routes dictated by an inspection of the topographic map or the mountain itself. There remain, however, a few summits which are best approached by specific routes; and there exist peaks which by virtue of their more impressive faces might bluff wary mountaineers out of enjoyable ascents.

Approaches and Campsites

The central part of the Bond Pass-Tioga Pass area is not often approached from the west, probably as a result of the distance which must be covered and the less exciting terrain which lies along the route. All three of the other directions provide easy and popular routes of entry.

From the north trails leading southward from the Sonora Pass highway start at Kennedy Meadow and at Leavitt Meadows. The Leavitt Meadows route follows the Walker River for several miles before trending southwest and crossing an unnamed pass at the eastern end of Dorothy Lake. The better-defined Relief Valley Trail starts at Kennedy Meadow, and joins the other route at Dorothy Lake after entering the park by way of Bond Pass. Either trail may be hiked to its crossing of the park boundary in a matter of two or three days. A newly completed temporary mining road (closed) leads from the Sonora Pass road to Bond Pass. Campgrounds have been established at Kennedy and Leavitt meadows, and stock is available.

The eastern approaches consist of secondary roads leading in to short, steep trails. Campsites and stock are available at some road ends, and in general trail systems lead into the park. The Robinson Creek route does not provide a trail, and bushwhacking is necessary between Barney and Peeler lakes. The approaches to the Sawtooth Ridge are described separately for that area.

The southern routes start from the Tioga Pass road. From Tuolumne Meadows and Snow Flat, trails lead to Glen Aulin and thence northward. Or, from a point near White Wolf a trail descends into the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne at Pate Valley; and then, after 3,500 vertical feet of switchbacks, leads north over easy country to Benson and Smedberg lakes.

The major trails in the northern Yosemite Sierra area are fairly well shown on the USGS sheet of Yosemite National Park, and several routes within the area are described in detail in Starr’s Guide to the John Muir Trail. A few days of hiking on these trails should indicate to most hikers what sort of terrain difficulties may be encountered in the region and how the trail system will cope with them. Only a few passes reach heights of more than 10,000 feet, and the meadows and valley floors lie between the 6,000- and 9,000-foot levels. The trails are for the most part well constructed, and although they follow considered routes along the paths of least resistance, cross-country knapsack routes are often open to hikers not hindered by the limitations imposed by stock. It is well to seek advance information, however. The traveler who inspects the map and can imagine no reason for the lack of a direct trail connection between Waterwheel Falls and Matterhorn Canyon can quickly if not easily find the reason for the longer route followed by the trail. But hiking through some areas in which the contour lines indicate no topographic obstacles is neither unreasonable nor difficult even if no trails exist. For example, a recent Sierra Club knapsack party crossed from Matterhorn Canyon to Spiller Creek Canyon by the unnamed pass north of Whorl Mountain and later left Spiller Creek by a pass north of Spiller Lake which led to the plateau west of Camiaca Peak. These passes were easy class 3.

Campsites are plentiful throughout the area, particularly along lake shores (Tilden Lake, Benson Lake), and in the major canyons (Virginia Creek, Matterhorn Canyon), and only at the most popular campsites is a shortage of grass or wood likely.



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