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Next: Kearsarge Pass to Army & Franklin PassesContentsPrevious: Kings Canyon

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


Piute Pass to Kearsarge Pass

Palisades to Kearsarge Pass

Fred L. Jones

THE AREA south of the Palisades, as far as Kearsarge Pass, does not contain many outstanding peaks, but it nevertheless is very fine High Sierra country, with much of charm and interest. There are many places where trails do not go that can be reached by knapsackers. Peaks of special note are Mount Bolton Brown, Split Mountain, Mount Baxter, Arrow Peak, and Mount Clarence King. Most, but not all, of the peaks have at least one moderately easy route. Granite predominates throughout, although dark, metamorphic rock is found on Crater Mountain, Cardinal Mountain, Split Mountain, and near Rae Lake.

Historical Résumé

Indians used Kearsarge Pass as a trading route for untold centuries before Captain John Frémont entered the region to the northwest in 1845 and traveled to 11,000 feet on the North Fork of the Kings. In 1858 J. H. Johnson was led across Kearsarge Pass by a Digger Indian. Prospectors were also active at about this time. The California Geological Survey party led by W. H. Brewer arrived in the Kings River watershed in 1864, and made further explorations in 1865.

In 1873 John Muir traveled up Bubbs Creek and went over Kearsarge Pass. In the years after 1875 sheep came to the South Fork, and in 1876 or 1877 Frank Dusy explored the Middle Fork of the Kings as far as the Palisades. In 1878 the present Split Mountain was named Southeast Palisade by George Wheeler. Taboose, Sawmill, and Pinchot passes were in use by sheepmen by 1890. Bolton C. Brown made a solo trip up the headwaters of the Middle and South forks of the Kings in 1895, and made ascents of Mount Woodworth, Mount Ruskin, and Arrow Peak. Brown explored Sixty Lake Basin and the Rae Lake region in 1899 and made a map of the area.

The early visitors to the mountains naturally paid more attention to passes than to peaks. Mather Pass was first used by stock in 1897 when a sheepman was trapped by snow in the upper Middle Fork of the Kings. Packstock were taken over Glen Pass for the first time in 1906. The Sierra Club conducted its second annual outing in 1902, taking about 200 people into the Kings Canyon. Stock were taken over Muir Pass in 1907 by George R. Davis, who then worked out of the Middle Fork to Cartridge Creek, since there was, of course, no trail down the rugged Middle Fork.

In 1908 J. N. LeConte, James Hutchinson, and Duncan McDuffie made the entire trip from Yosemite to Kings Canyon via high route, with stock. From the Middle Fork, after crossing Muir Pass, they tried to scout out a route over Mather Pass but decided that it was impassable and went up Cataract Creek, across to Cartridge Creek, over Cartridge Pass to the South Fork, over Pinchot and Glen passes, and finally down Bubbs Creek. This trip took 27 days. In 1915 work was begun on the John Muir Trail, which was finally completed in 1938.

When the trails threaded their way through the mountains, the travelers began to climb the peaks. The early trips of Brown, LeConte, Davis, Solomons, and others left relatively few conquered peaks behind. During the 19305 Sierra Club climbers made many first ascents. Norman Clyde, who began his Sierra climbing in the early 1920s while principal of the High School at Independence, has been and still is the unchallenged dean of modern Sierra mountaineers. He and a few others whose names stand out in the records have accounted for the major portion of the original climbing to date.

Approaches and Campsites

Eastern approaches are described first, from north to south, starting with Birch Creek and ending with Kearsarge Pass. Western approaches and a few words about camping follow.

Birch Creek. There is no pass over the crest at Birch Creek. From Big Pine drive west on the road to Glacier Lodge. Just past the first bridge take the branch road to the south to McMurray Meadow. Walk north along the fence to the north; about 200 yards north of the creek the trail runs west among a network of cattle trails. If necessary the trail can be picked up where it climbs up the first draw north of Birch Creek. At about 9,100 one branch of the trail crosses the ridge to the south into a basin on Birch Creek, while the other continues up the ridge to meet the first at a willow patch at about 10,000. Mediocre campsites can be found. The crest can be crossed by knapsackers between the Thumb and the next peak south.

Red Mountain Creek. This is another approach that does not lead over the crest. From Fish Springs on Highway 395 drive southwest to the old Red Mountain Fruit Ranch. Turn west through the stone portals and go past the pumice mine. Keep to the left and cross Tinemaha Creek. At the next fork turn left again. The road ends at a spring north of Red Mountain Creek. The steep, rough trail rounds the hill just above the first little rocky point above Red Mountain Creek. There are campsites on the flat just below Red Mountain Lake. The saddle to the north of Split Mountain can be reached by climbers or knapsackers by climbing above the lake to the northwest, and this saddle can be crossed to Upper Basin.

Taboose Pass (11,400+). Taboose Pass offers an approach to the Upper Basin of the South Fork of the Kings, but it is little used and has fallen into disrepair. Animals must be led over several stretches of jumbled talus blocks. It is a long, dry climb. To reach the foot of the trail turn off Highway 395 about 16 miles north of Independence on the first dirt road north of Taboose Creek. Keep to the right after passing through the drift fence and drive to the end of the rocky road. The trail is signed and leads to the north. Camp can be made in the flat below the falls at about 8,800, or at the last timber at about 10,500.

Sawmill Pass (11,200+). From Highway 395 take the first dirt road north of Sawmill Creek and drive to the mouth of Sawmill Canyon. The trail goes up the low ridge north of the canyon mouth. An alternative approach is to drive up the oiled road to the Division Creek powerhouse. A trail leaves the road about one-quarter mile above the powerhouse and meets the Sawmill Canyon branch in the sandy saddle west of the red hill to the south. The trail to the pass is long and arduous, though not particularly rough. Sawmill Meadows is a good camp spot, as is Sawmill Lake, east of the pass.

Baxter Pass (12,000). Drive up the road up the North Fork of Oak Creek to the end. The trail is steep, long, and rough, but there are good campsites at Summit Meadows on the southeast side of the pass, and also at Baxter Lakes on the northwest.

Kearsarge Pass (11,823). From Independence a good road leads to Onion Valley at 8,900 feet, where the trail to the pass starts. This is an excellent and easy trail. Camps can be found at elevations of about 11,000 on either side of the pass.

Western approaches. From Cedar Grove on the South Fork the path follows up the stream. At the Bubbs Creek junction the right hand trail can be followed up Bubbs Creek to Bullfrog Lake, or the left hand one can be taken up Paradise Valley and Woods Creek. From Kings Canyon at Copper Creek a trail can be followed to Granite Pass. It is also possible to approach up the Middle Fork of the Kings, by way of Tehipite Valley, but this approach is quite lengthy.

Campsites. Places with wood and water can be found along most streams up to about 11,400 feet, which is the average timberline for this area.

Principal Passes

Besides the passes mentioned under approaches, there are a number of others within the area. Mather Pass, Pinchot Pass, Glen Pass, and Granite Pass are crossed by good trails. Cartridge Pass (11,700+) was for long the Muir Trail route between the Middle and South Forks of the Kings, but since the Muir Trail has been rerouted over Mather Pass, Cartridge has fallen into disrepair. Parties use it for stock each year, but it is considered rather rough. Gardiner Pass provides a rough route in current use by packers into Gardiner Basin from Charlotte Lake; the pass lies west of Mount Gardiner.

The remaining routes of this section are recommended only for knapsackers or hikers, although some have been traversed with stock.

Cataract Creek Pass (11,500+). This pass connects Amphitheater and Dumbbell lakes. The trail along Cataract Creek is said to be the worst section.

Dumbbell Lakes Pass (12,200+). This is an old sheep route from the head of Cartridge Creek into Dumbbell Lakes.

Upper Basin Pass (12,300+). LeConte and Lindley pioneered a route eastward out of the head of Cartridge Creek into Upper Basin. It is for knapsackers only.

Red Pass (11,600+). Red Pass lies between Marion Peak and Red Point. It provides a route between Marion Lake and the South Fork of Cartridge Creek, and can be used on a cross-country route from Dougherty Meadow via Horseshoe Lakes, Windy Ridge, and Red Pass to Marion Lake, as was done by the 1935 High Trip.

Arrow Pass (12,600+). The notch about three-quarters of a mile southeast of Arrow Peak may be used to go from the creek southwest of Bench Lake to Arrow Creek. It was once used by sheepmen, and constitutes part of a knapsack route between Upper Basin and Paradise Valley.

Muro Blanco. The Muro Blanco can hardly be termed a pass, but it does offer an unconventional route between Upper Basin and Paradise Valley. The descent may be made by knapsackers by following along the river bottom. Although stock have been taken over the same route during periods of low water, the route is decidedly not recommende for animals. The ascent by knapsackers is difficult, and the party should consider that it may be turned back.

Baxter Col (12400+). Between Mount Baxter and Peak 13,167 is a notch which, though up to class 3 on the north, provides a handy route between Woods and Baxter lakes.

Rae Lake-Sixty Lake Basin passes. A route passable to stock lies between Peak 11,904 and Peak 12,553. Another within the basin, (11,800+), is south of Peak 11,950. A ducked trail departs from the Muir Trail on the west side of Rae Lake and crosses the intervening ridge south of Fin Dome.

Sixty Lake Col (11,600+). This pass crosses the ridge between Gardiner Basin and Sixty Lake Basin just north of Peak 12,565. It is rough, but is passable to burrows.

Knapsack routes from Onion Valley to Rae Lake. It is possible to go from Onion Valley to Rae Lake in one day by crossing the Woods Creek -Bubbs Creek divide just west of the crest, near Mount Gould and Dragon Peak. Follow the trail to Kearsarge Pass, then either follow up the west side of the crest toward Gould or follow the main trail west to a point a few hundred yards below the place where the Kearsarge Lakes trail leaves the main trail. At this point an old trail departs to the north and winds up to the top of the ridge between Gould and Rixford and ends on the crest about one-half mile north of Gould at an elevation of about 12,800. Descend down talus to the three lakes just south of Dragon Lake, then follow the stream to Dragon Lake, where a trail leading to Rae Lake is found. In the reverse direction, take the stream that falls into Dragon Lake from the south and follow it to the easternmost of the three lakes south of Dragon Lake. From this lake climb the southernmost talus slope which looks negotiable to the ridge, follow the ridge to Mount Gould, and descend to the Kearsarge Pass trail or to the pass itself. This route is class 2 to 3, and may be done in five hours from Rae Lake to Onion Valley.

Peaks of the Main Crest (North to South)

Peak 13,474 (13,520+n; 1 N of Mt. Bolton Brown)

First ascent June 14, 1930, by Norman Clyde. It is a long, class 3 climb from Glacier Lodge. The peak is more accessible from the basin to the west via the northwest ridge.

Mount Bolton Brown (13,527; 13,538n)

Route 1. Northwest ridge. Class 2. First ascent August 14, 1922, by Chester Versteeg and Rudolph Berls. From the pass to the west proceed along the top of the ridge. A narrow, 100 foot chimney is climbed to reach the top.

Route 2. Southwest slope. Class 3. First descent August 14, 1922, by Chester Versteeg and Rudolph Berls. Descend the slope to the basin below.

Route 3. North slope. Class 2. First ascent October 6, 1948, by Fred L. Jones. From the basin to the north ascend the slope to the top of the ridge west of the summit. Cross to the south side and proceed to the summit.

Mount Prater (13,501; 13,329n)

Route 1. South ridge. Class 1. First ascent unknown. Climb from the saddle to the south, which is reached from Lake 11,563 to west. A short knife-edge ridge just south of the summit presents no great difficulty.

Route 2. North ridge. Class 3. First ascent October 6, 1948, by Fred L. Jones from the basin at the northernmost tip of the South Fork of the Kings. Ascend the largest chute to south of the pinnacles south of Mount Bolton Brown. Cross to the plateau on the east side of the crest, then ascend over the boulders at the south end of the plateau to the summit of the north peak of Mount Prater. A class 3 notch separates the two peaks.

Split Mountain (14,051; 14,058n)

This peak was formerly known as the Southeast Palisade.

Route 1. North ridge. Class 1. First ascent July 23, 1902, by Joseph N. LeConte, Helen G. LeConte and Curtis M. Lindley. From Lake 11,563 proceed east to the saddle north of the peak. The U.S. Geological Survey took horses and mules to the saddle in 1943. Ascend the easy north slope to the summit.

Route 2. Northwest shoulder. Class 2. First ascent by Norman Clyde, date unknown. He states only that the shoulder is class 2.

Route 3. West face. Class 3. First descent by Norman Clyde, date unknown. He came directly down the west face, keeping to the ribs instead of the chutes due to drop-offs. Clyde states that the peak can be climbed by this route. It is class 3, with class 4 if the best route isn’t chosen.

Route 4. From east. Class 3. From Red Mountain Lake east of Split Mountain go northwest to the ridge east of the saddle. Ascend this, which is rubbly, to the saddle. The last few hundred feet of the ridge are class 3. Red Mountain Lake is reached by a trail following the north slope of the creek from the road end.

The first gendarme south of the summit affords several hundred feet of class 3. First ascended by Norman Clyde and Jules Eichorn, date unknown.

Cardinal Mountain (13,388; 13,397n)

Class 2. First ascent August 11, 1922, by George Downing, Jr. From Taboose Pass ascend either the southwest spur or the chute slightly to east. A narrow, pinnacled stretch, which must be traversed if the southwest spur is followed, is bypassed by using the chute.

Cardinal Mountain can be easily ascended from Stecker’s Bench on the north side of Taboose Creek, to which a trail leads from the end of the road on Red Mountain Creek.

Striped Mountain (13,160; 13,189n)

First ascent July, 1905, by George R. Davis, route unknown.

Route 1. From Taboose Pass. Class 2. From Taboose Pass proceed past Lake 11,450 and ascend either the northeast or east slopes. This is probably the route of first ascent.

Route 2. West ridge. Class 2. First descent August 1, 1948 by Fred L. Jones. In climbing by this route follow the drainage above the twin lakes west of Striped Mountain, keeping well up on the north slope. Any of several chutes on the southwest face of the mountain lead to the summit plateau, though some are more difficult than others.

Route 3. From Woods Creek. Class 3. First ascent August 11, 1948, by Fred L. Jones. From the lake east of Mount Pinchot ascend the west slope of the crest to the junction of the ridge running east to Peak 12,281. Descend a steep, narrow chute to the head of the north fork of Goodale Creek. Ascend an easy chute to the saddle between Goodale and Striped Mountains from which either can easily be climbed. The route is class 3 to Goodale Creek and class 2 from there.

Mount Perkins (12,557, 12,591n)

Class 2. First ascent before 1910 by a U.S. Geological Survey party. The west slope and the crest to north and south are easily climbable. Mount Perkins is a mere bump on the crest.

Colosseum Mountain (12,417; 12,473n)

Route 1. Southwest slope. Class 1. First ascent August 5, 1922, by Chester Versteeg. From Woods Lake climb to the highest lake to north, ascend the southwest slope of Colosseum Mountain over gravelly sand.

Route 2. West ridge. Class 1. From the basin to northwest ascend to the saddle west of the peak, then go east to the summit.

Route 3. Northwest chute. Class 2. From the basin to northwest ascend the gully north of the summit and climb out near the top.

Route 4. North ridge. Class 4. From the crest to north traverse over several sheer-sided notches to the summit. This route is generally chosen in error.

Peak 12,101 (12,080+n; 3/4 S of Colosseum Mountain)

Class 2. First ascent in 1935 by Marjory Farquhar, Helen LeConte, Peter Grubb, C. Burkett, et al. It is art’ easy ascent from the west. Has been called Woods Pinnacles.

Peak 11,991 (12,000+n; 1 N of Mount Baxter)

Class 1. First ascent August 27, 1945, by Art Reyman. It is class 1 from any side.

Mount Baxter (13,118; 13,125n)

First ascent in 1905 by George R. Davis, route unknown.

Route 1. North ridge. Class 2. Ascend the north ridge from the saddle south of Peak 11,991. Cross the area of large, jumbled blocks south of the saddle to the large chute above. Bear to the east at the top of this and wind back and forth across the ridge. Bear east for the last 50 feet below the summit. This is probably the route of first ascent.

Route 2. From northwest. Class 3. From the lake northwest of Mount Baxter climb to the saddle west of the peak, then ascend the west slope of Mount Baxter to the summit. The route to the saddle is class 3, the upper slope class 2. The basin above the lake is subject to heavy rockfall during the summer and due caution should be exercised.

Route 3. From southwest. Class 2. From the upper Baxter Lake climb northeast to the small lake above. The large talus chute northeast of the lake offers the shortest route to the summit plateau. However the rocks are loose and delicately balanced. An alternate class 2 route from the lake via the west slope of the basin to the saddle to west of Mount Baxter (see Route 2) provides surer footing.

Route 4. Northeast ridge. Class 3. First descent July 25, 1948, by Fred L. Jones. In climbing by this route, which is a traverse from Peak 12,411 to the east, descend the north side of the ridge and work around and over the first point to west. Cross a knife-edge to the next point, and drop into the notch to west. Ascend one of the chimneys leading to the slope above. Ascend the large chute to near the summit of the sharp point above. Traverse the blocks on the north side of the ridge to the summit plateau of Mount Baxter.

Route 5. South ridge. Class 3. First descent August 5, 1948, by Fred L. Jones. In ascending from the upper Baxter Lake climb northeast toward the notch in the crest between Mount Baxter and Peak 12,206. Cross the crest to the east side and traverse the ribs and chutes, keeping as high as possible, until the top of the crest can be followed to the summit plateau.

Peak 13,051 (13,070n; 1/2 N of Diamond Peak)

First ascent 1925 by Norman Clyde, route unknown. It can easily be ascended by long class 2 climbs from the Baxter Pass trail to west or on a traverse from Diamond Peak. A class 3 route was followed from Baxter Pass, on August 6, 1948, by Fred L. Jones. Climb along the crest to west. Traverse the ribs and chutes on the south side keeping high, until beneath the summit. Several fairly difficult pitches lead to the top.

Diamond Peak (13,105; 13,126n)

First recorded ascent August 1922 by Norman Clyde, route unknown. He thinks that there was a cairn there.

Route 1. West slope. Class 2. This route is a long climb from Rae Lakes. It is the most often used and probably was the route of first ascent.

Route 2. From Black Mountain. Class 2. First recorded ascent August 20, 1948, by Fred L. Jones. From Black Mountain descend into the basin to north, then cross the crest to the west side through the notch. Ascend the south slope of Diamond Peak.

The plateau south of the summit can be reached from the head of the North Fork of Oak Creek via the southeast slope. This route has apparently not been used, however.

Black Mountain (13,258; 13,289n)

First ascent in 1905 by George Davis, route unknown.

Route 1. South slope. Class 2. Take the trail from Rae Lake to Dragon Lake and ascend the south slope from it.

Route 2. From Diamond Peak. Class 2. Follow the reverse of route 2 for Diamond Peak.

Route 3. East ridge. Class 2. First descent August 19, 1948, by Fred L. Jones. The large blocks directly below the summit present the only difficulty. The summit of the east ridge can be reached from the North Fork of Oak Creek, Charlie Canyon, or the South Fork of Oak Creek.

Dragon Peak (12,955; 13,040+n)

First ascent in 1920 by either Fred Parker and J. E. Rother, or by Norman Clyde.

Route 1. From east. Class 3. From the east climb to the col immediately to the south, then go along the crest to the peak and up the west face.

Route 2. South ridge. Class 2. Traverse from Mount Gould along the connecting ridge and knife-edge to a point south of the top. Ascend the couloir on the southeast face to the ridge and proceed over blocks to the top.

Route 3. From southwest. Clyde states that the best route is from the lakes to the southwest, though he gives no details of the route.

The summit is a gendarme and is class 3. See Mount Gould for the route of the trail to the plateau to south, which gives access to Dragon Peak.

Mount Gould (13,001; 13,005n)

Route 1. South ridge. Class 1. First ascent July 2, 1890, by Joseph N. LeConte, Hubert P. Dyer, Fred S. Pheby and C. B. Lakeman from Kearsarge Pass via the south slope.

Route 2. Southeast ridge. Class 1. From east of Kearsarge Pass ascend the southeast ridge keeping to south of the ridge top.

Route 3. From the north. Class 1. The plateau to the north is readily reached on a traverse from Mount Rixford or Dragon Peak and it is an easy climb to the summit. A trail leaving the Kearsarge Pass trail a short distance west of the Kearsarge Lakes turn-off winds up the slope to north and proceeds to the north end of the plateau. Both Mount Gould and Dragon Peak are then easily reached.

Peaks West of the Crest

(Middle Fork to South Fork of Kings, east of Granite Pass)

Peak 12,806 (12,851n, 1 SW of Cardinal Mtn.)

Class 1. First ascent August 5, 1945, by A. J. Reyman via the southeast ridge.

Peak 13,046 (13,080+n; 0.7 NE of Mather Pass)

First recorded ascent August 16, 1922, by Chester Versteeg from Mather Pass along the north side of the ridge. He found a cairn.

Peak 12,674 (12,680+n; 1.8 SW of Mather Pass)

First ascent August 12, 1922, by Chester Versteeg, Mrs. Versteeg, Val Ellery, and Rudolph Berls, from the pass north of the peak.

Observation Peak (12,375; 12,322n)

First ascent July 25, 1902, by Joseph N. LeConte and Curtis W. Lindley from Dumbbell Lakes. It was climbed in 1926 by Marjory Hurd via the northwest ridge.

Peak 12,147 (12,151n; 1 NW of Observation Peak)

First ascent July 20, 1930, by Francis P. Farquhar, Mary Lou Michaels, Doris Drust, Lorna Kilgariff and Robert L. Lipman.

Windy Cliff (11,100+; 11,132n)

No record of ascent is available.

Peak 11,192 (11,265n; 1.7 NW of Observation Peak)

This peak is a USGS benchmark so it has been climbed.

Peak 12,835 (12,860n; 3/4 E of Dumbbell Lakes)

Class 3. First ascent August 12, 1945, by Art Reyman from Lake Basin. Ascend open benches and approach from the southwest. Go beyond the lake lying southeast of the peak and ascend the difficult couloir on the east face. Several routes develop as the climb progresses, all being rather difficult and exposed, but a way is open to the summit.

Peak 12,316 (12,320+n; 1.7 N of Marion Lake)

Class 2. First ascent August 12, 1945 by Art Reyman from Lake Basin up the south slope. No specific route is needed to reach the summit.

Peak 12,775 (12,811n; 3/4 N of Mount Ruskin)

Class 2. First ascent August 13, 1945, by Art Reyman from Lake Basin via the west slope.

Peak 12,100+ (12,080+n; 1/2 NE of Mount Ruskin)

Class 4. First ascent July 22, 1939, by Bruce Meyer, Charlotte Mauk and Dave Brower. They climbed the east face and the arête from the notch to west. They roped down to the south from the west notch. It has been called the Saddlehorn.

Mt. Ruskin (12,800+; 12,920n)

Route 1: Northwest ridge. First ascent August 7, 1895, by Bolton C. Brown. From Cartridge Pass he climbed the ridge running to north to the junction of it and the ridge running southeast to Ruskin, then out it. The ridge became steep and narrow so he dropped down to the southwest. The other side is a sheer precipice. He then crossed the fluted west face and ascended the south spur. This last portion was termed by Brown to be the most aerial climbing he had ever attempted. Probably class 3.

Route 2. West slope. Class 3. First ascent August 13, 1945, by Art Reyman. Ascend the west slope to the couloir on the west face, ascend this to class 3 rocks which lead to the summit.

Peak 12,139 (12,162n; 1/3 SW of Cartridge Pass)

Class 1. Ascended prior to 1930. It is an easy short climb from Cartridge Pass.

Peak 12,100+ (11,920+n; 1/4 SW of PK 12,139)

First ascent August 9, 1922, by Norman Clyde.

Peak 11,527 (11,520+; 1/3 E of Marion Lake)

First ascent August 6, 1895, by Bolton C. Brown from Cartridge Creek (presumably via the west slope). He descended the south side to Marion

Lake. On July 22, 1902, Joseph N. LeConte and party climbed it by circling Marion Lake. They termed the climb an easy scramble.

Peak 12,368 (12,361n; 1 NE of Marion Peak)

Class 2. First recorded ascent August 11, 1945, by Art Reyman. He found what may have been a cairn. Traverse from Marion Peak and ascend the south slope.

Marion Peak (12,686; 12,719n)

Route 1. East slope. First ascent July 22, 1902, by J. N. LeConte and Curds Lindley. From Marion Lake ascend the east slope to the summit.

Route 2. Northwest ridge. Class 3. First ascent August 11, 1945, by Art Reyman. From the knapsack pass to northwest follow the knife-edge ridge, then go over difficult rocks to the summit.

Red Point (11,851; 11,840+n)

Class 1. First ascent August 11, 1945, by Art Reyman. From Marion Lake ascend to the pass south of the point on the knapsack route, then up the south ridge.

Peak 12,529 (12,524n; 3/4 N of State Peak)

First ascent probably in 1935 by a Sierra Club party who “climbed peaks of Cirque Crest.”

Peak 11,742 (11,760+n; 1 NE of Horseshoe Lakes)

First ascent July 13, 1935, by a Sierra Club party.

Peak 11,182 (11,150n) (Windy Point)

First ascent unknown, but as it is a USGS benchmark it was climbed by a survey party. It can be reached by following Windy Ridge to its northwest end. A fine view is obtained from this point.

Windy Peak (8,872; 8,867n)

No record of ascent is available.

State Peak (12,609; 12,620n)

First ascent probably in 1935 by a Sierra Club party who “climbed peaks of Cirque Crest.”

Dougherty Peak (12,234; 12,244n)

First ascent in 1935 by a Sierra Club party.

Peak 12,004 (11,920+n; 1 SW of Dougherty Peak)

First ascent probably in 1935 by a Sierra Club party who “climbed peaks of Cirque Crest.”

Goat Crest (11,779; 11,7970)

No record of ascent is available.

Goat Crest (12,055; 12,000n)

No record of ascent is available.

Kid Peak (11,443 11,458n)

First ascent July 2, 1940, by a Sierra Club party of 18 led by Norman Clyde and Dave Brower from Paradise Valley.

Goat Mountain (12,203; 12,207n)

Class 1. First ascent apparently July 22, 1864, by James T. Gardiner and Charles F. Hoffmann from Granite Basin. It has been ascended several times from Copper Creek via the south ridge. Apparently class 1.

West of the Crest

(South Fork of Kings Rives to Bubbs Creek)

Peak 12,776 (1 NW of Mt Pinchot)

First ascent July 23, 1939, by Madi Bacon and Tom Noble.

Mount Pinchot (13,471; 13,495n)

Class 2. First ascent in 1905 by either Charles F. Urquhart of the USGS, or George Davis, both of whom climbed it in that year. It is easily climbable from almost any direction.

Mount Wynne (13,100+; 13,179n)

First ascent in 1935 by a Sierra Club party. It is climbable from almost any direction. The traverse from Mount Pinchot has been used.

Peak 12,601 (12,480+n) (1/2 N of Crater Mountain)

As this peak is an old USGS benchmark it had been climbed by a survey party prior to the first recorded ascent in 1925 by Norman Clyde.

Crater Mountain (12,800+; 12,874n)

Class 2. First ascent July 19, 1922, by W. H. Ink, Meyers Butte, Frank Baxter and Capt. Wallace. The best routes are from the east or northeast. This peak is not a crater as the name implies.

Peak 12,600+ (12,560+n; 1/4 NE of Peak 12,938)

First ascent July 25, 1939, by Art Argiewicz, Cyril Jobson, Don Kauffman, Keith Taylor and Bob Wickersham from the cirque southeast of Bench Lake.

Peak 12,938 (12,968n; 1.3 NW of Crater Mountain)

First recorded ascent July 25, 1939, by Art Argiewicz and party from the cirque southeast of Bench Lake. They found evidence of prior ascent.

Peak 12,044 (12,000+n; SE of Bench Lake)

First ascent August 12, 1922, by W. Sloane and J. Sloane.

Arrow Peak (12,927; 12,958n)

Route 1. Northeast spur. First ascent August 8, 1895, by Bolton C. Brown. He climbed the northeast spur from the base to the top. It is a simple ascent, but most of it is serious climbing. There are some narrow, knife-edge spots. Brown descended the southeast spur and returned to the South Fork of the Kings.

Route 2. Southwest ridge. First ascent June 1902 by Joseph N. LeConte, Tracey Kelley and Robert Pike from the head of Arrow Creek. They ascended the south slope to the top of the ridge. A false summit one quarter mile south of the peak is separated from it by a knife-edge ridge.

Route 3. Southeast ridge. Class 2. First ascent possibly August 20, 1930, by Walter A. Starr, Jr. from Bench Lake. From the west end of Bench Lake head for the rock slide at the pass southeast of the peak. Ascend this and then go westerly over talus to the summit.

Arrow Ridge (12,166; 12,188n)

Class 1. First ascent August 8, 1945, by Art J. Reyman on a traverse from Arrow Peak.

Pyramid Peak (12,740; 12,777n)

Class 3. First ascent July 21, 1942, by Art Reyman on a traverse from Window Peak. The ridge narrows to a class 3 knife-edge. The climb is class 2 except the knife-edge. The final summit is reached by ascending the south ridge.

Peak 12,200+ (12,160+n; 1/2 SE of Pyramid Peak)

Class 2. First ascent July 21, 1942, by Art Reyman while on a traverse from Window Peak to Pyramid Peak.

Window Peak (12,002; 12,085n)

First ascent July 5, 1940, by Art Argiewicz and Bob Jacobs. Their route is not known. They found that the window measures four by five feet. The peak has been climbed from Castle Domes via the broken connecting ridge. Another route has been followed by Art Reyman on a descent via the north ridge to Pyramid Peak.

Castle Domes (11,415; 11,360+n)

The highest dome is an old benchmark, so the first ascent was probably made in early years by a USGS survey party. The first ascent of the second most prominent dome was made July 5, 1940, by Art Argiewicz and Bob Jacobs. From Woods Creek the east slope and the northeast ridge afford a class 1 route. It can be climbed on a traverse of the connecting ridge from Window Peak.

Peak 12,332 (12,372n; 1 W of Colosseum Mountain)

Class s. First ascent August 25, 1935, by Norman Clyde. The southeast slope is class 1.

Peak 12,329 (12,349n; 2.7 W Of Mount Baxter)

Class 2. First recorded ascent July 4, 1940, by Jim Harkins, Bob Jacobs and Don Heyneman. They found evidence that it had been climbed before. Their route is not known. It can easily be climbed from the saddle to east.

Peak 12,786 (12,804n; 1.7 NW of Mount Baxter)

Route 1. East ridge. Class 2. First ascent July 1935 by a Sierra Club party led by Norman Clyde on a traverse from Peak 13,167.

Route 2. From northwest. Class 2. First ascent July 21, 1948, by Fred L. Jones from Woods Lake. Ascend the ridge leading to the east edge of the plateau west of the peak, then go up the west slope to the summit. The descent was made by a class 2 route via the west ridge to the saddle east of Peak 12,329.

Peak 12,885 (12,852n; 1.7 W Of Mount Baxter)

Class 2. First ascent July 1935 by a Sierra Club party led by Norman Clyde on a traverse along the north ridge from Mount Baxter. They continued on to Peak 12,786.

Peak 13,167 (13,189n; 3/4 W of Mount Baxter)

Class 2. First ascent July 1935 by a Sierra Club party led by Norman Clyde on a traverse from Mount Baxter. The east ridge has been reached by Fred L. Jones via the saddle to east from both the north and south. The route to the saddle from the north is class 3 and from the south class 2. Clyde continued the traverse down the west ridge, also class 2.

Peak 11,503 (11,520+n; 1.7 NW of Mount Clarence King)

First ascent July 5, 1940, by Ken Hartley and Don Roberts.

King Spur (12,158; 12,160+n)

Date of first ascent unknown. First ascents on the two most northerly points of the ridge were made from the north on July 6, 1940, by Jim Harkins, Bob Jacobs, Art Argiewicz and Bruce Meyer. Ropes were used on the summit monoliths. They saw a cairn on top of Peak 12,158.

Peak 11,081 (11,1204+n; 1.5 NE of Mount Clarence King)

This peak is a benchmark, so it has been climbed by a USGS survey party.

Mount Clarence King (12,909; 12,905n)

In July 1895 Bolton C. Brown attempted the north and east arêtes, being stopped by vertical cliffs on both. On the east he reached to within one or two hundred feet of the summit. The following year he successfully climbed the south face, this approach being the only one by which the summit has been reached to date.

Class 3. First ascent 1896, probably in August, by Bolton C. Brown via the south ridge. From the head of Gardiner Creek or Sixty Lake Basin proceed to the saddle south of the peak. From Sixty Lake Basin the route follows either a ledge in the cliff or a rockslide further south, and is class 3. Proceed north on the flat talus slope. Walter Starr’s choice of the best route is as follows: at the top of this slope, next to the eastern drop-off, is a small hole under the rocks just large enough to squirm up through. This hole is in line with the summit, Mount Cotter and Mount Stanford. The last 50 feet requires rock climbing. Ropes should be used. The summit is composed of big slabs.

Mount Cotter (12,703; 12,721n)

Class 2. First ascent August 6, 1922, by Bob Fitzsimons from Sixty Lake Basin.

The north peak of Cotter was first climbed on July 8, 1940, by a Sierra Club party led by Dave Brower on a traverse of the north ridge. An exposed 20 feet wall which had to be descended was the only obstacle. Ropes are needed. Probably class 3.

Mount Gardiner (12,903; 12,907n)

Two of the most prominent Sierra mountaineers of all time, Joseph N. LeConte and Bolton C. Brown, met by chance on the lower summit of the peak in July 1896 and joined forces to share in its first ascent.

Route 1. South slope. Class 3. First ascent July 1896 by Joseph N. LeConte and Bolton C. Brown. The south slope from Charlotte Creek to the summit of the lower peak is an easy ascent. A knife-edge ridge separates the summit of the highest peak. Probably class 3.

Route 2. Southeast ridge. On July 7, 1940, Paul Estes and Jack Pointeki traversed the southeast ridge between Mount Gardiner and Peak 12,565, though they didn’t specify which way.

Route 3. Northeast face. First ascent July 9, 1940, by a party led by Norman Clyde. They ascended the glacier to the summit.

Peak 10,667 (10,690n; 2 SW of Mount Gardiner)

First ascent July 15, 1940, by Neil Ruge and Florence Rata.

Peak 12,565 (12,560+n; 1 SE of Mount Gardiner)

First ascent July 7, 1940, by Paul Estes and Jack Pointeki. They traversed between it and Mount Gardiner, though the direction of travel is not known.

Peak 12,553 (12,560+n; 2 E of Mount Gardiner)

First ascent in 1899 by Bolton C. Brown. A map of his route shows that he crossed the summit using the south and north slopes, though his direction of travel isn’t indicated.

Peak 11,904 (11,942n; 3/4 S Of Fin Dome)

Class 2. Date of the first ascent is not known, but it was prior to July 6, 1940. An old USFS shovel handle was found then by Paul Estes. The ascent from the north is class 2, by inspection.

Fin Dome (11,627; 11,693n)

First ascent 1910 by James Rennie, route unknown, though probably similar to route 1.

Route 1. West face. Class 3. Ducks lead to the easiest route on the west face, directly under the dome. It is a high-angle, zig-zagging trail of sand, gravel and small blocks between large slabs and boulders. If one didn’t stay on the easiest route ropes would be needed. There are several good routes for ropes.

Route 2. Class 4. First ascent July 7, 1940, by Sierra Club party led by Dave Brower. Traversing north from Peak 11,904 they established a class 4 route. Details are not known.

Peak 12,409 (12,400+n; 1/2 W of Mount Rixford)

First ascent probably July 1896 by Bolton C. Brown. It is readily climbable from the south, west or east.

Peak 12,238 (12,160+n; 3/4 W of Mount Rixford)

First ascent in 1909 by William G. Morgan and party from Bullfrog Lake. They traversed north to Peak 12,409.

Mount Rixford (12,856; 12,890n)

First ascent in 1897 by Dr. Emmet Rixford and two others. Their route is unknown. Several routes have been used: from Bullfrog Lake, class 1; from Peak 12,409 to the west, class 2; from Mount Gould, mostly class 2 but the sharp ridge up Mount Rixford from the east may be class 3. The northeast face has been descended by Bolton Brown, who described it as dangerous.

Peak 12,700+ (12,800+n; 1/2 E of Mount Rixford)

First ascent August 19, 1900, by John Fox and 9 others.

Peak 12,067 (12,126n; 1/2 N of Mount Rixford)

This is the Painted Lady. First ascent July 1931 by Robert Owen.

Mount Bago (11,868; 11,869n)

Class 1. First ascent either July 1896, by Joseph N. LeConte and W. S. Gould, or July, 1896, by Bolton C. Brown and Lucy Brown. Both parties were in the area at the same time. Ascend from Charlotte Lake.

Peak 11,440 (11,360+n; 1 E of Mount Bago)

First ascent July, 1896, by Bolton C. Brown, Lucy Brown, Dr. Wood and Dr. Little from Charlotte Lake.

East of the Crest

Birch Mountain (13,660; 13,665n)

No record of the first ascent is available, though Norman Clyde has climbed it several times. The best route is from Birch Lake up the chute leading southwest to the col west of the peak, then east to the top. This route is probably class 1 or 2 at worst. The north face affords class 2 and class 3 routes among the many ribs and chutes. The south slope is class 1 or 2. Clyde has descended the east slope on snow in the spring.

Peak 12,543 (named “Mount Tinemaha,” 12,561n)

First recorded ascent July 1, 1937, by Chester Versteeg. He climbed from Tinemaha Creek to the top of the ridge west of the peak, then went east on it to the summit. It can also be climbed from the saddle on the main crest north of Split Mountain via the southerly slope of the ridge. The west end of this ridge and several steep ribs are class 3. From Red Mountain Lake the gravelly southwest slope gives a class 2 route.

Goodale Mountain (12,767; 12,790n)

Route 1. From the west. Class 2. First recorded ascent July 23, 1939, by Norman Clyde, Allan A. MacRae, and Albion J. Whitney. Apparently they climbed it from the saddle to the west. This saddle can be reached easily from Taboose Pass.

Route 2. From Woods Creek. Class 3. First ascent August 1, 1948, by Fred L. Jones. For details see Route 3 up Striped Mountain. From the saddle to the east the class 2 west slope is followed.

Route 3. East slope. Class 1. The east slope of Goodale Mountain can be climbed from the road ends between Taboose and Goodale Creeks and apparently has been by deer hunters.

Peak 11,764 (11,765n; 1.3 E of Mount Perkins)

Class 2. First recorded ascent July 31, 1948, by Fred L. Jones. A cairn was found but no record. The top of the connecting ridge was followed from the crest.

It was ascended May 11, 1951, by Fred L. Jones via Division Creek from Scotty Spring. The lower part of Division Creek canyon is class 3 in places, the upper part class 2. The peak was descended via the big chute on the northeast face, which is class 2.

Sawmill Point (9,460; 9,416n)

Class 3. First recorded ascent January 11, 1953, by Art J. Reyman and Fred L. Jones via the northeast ridge. Leave the Sawmill Pass trail above the red cinder cone north of Sawmill Creek. Ascend the spur above to the east edge of the summit ridge. At the notch directly east of the summit cross to the north side and regain the top of the summit ridge just west of the summit. Climb east to the top. Two old cairns were found, but no record. An easier ascent can be made by following the trail into Sawmill Creek until under the peak on the north side.

Lookout Point (10,160; 10,144n)

First ascent 1926 by Norman Clyde.

Peak 11,511 (11,520+n; 1 SW of Lookout Point)

Class 2. First ascent October 31, 1926, by Norman Clyde, probably from Sawmill Lake, as was the second ascent, also by Clyde in 1935. He descended into Black Canyon. The peak was ascended July 26, 1948, by Fred L. Jones on a traverse from Peak 12,411 by going west of that peak, then dropping to the head of the basin to north and crossing it to the top of the ridge south of 11,511. The route was class 2.

Peak 12,411 (12,400+n; 1 NE of Mount Baxter)

Class 2. First ascent September 4, 1935, by Norman Clyde from Sawmill Pass by going southeast across the intervening cirque. The peak was climbed from Mount Baxter on July 25, 1948, by Fred L. Jones by keeping to the top or north side of the intervening ridge (see Route 4 up Mount Baxter). The route is class 3. The peak was climbed from Thibaut Creek on October 16, 1948, by Fred L. Jones by keeping to the top or south side of the ridge between Thibaut Creek and Black Canyon. The route is class 3. The descent into Thibaut Creek was made via a class 2 chute from the summit.

“Indian Rock” (12,200+; 12,160+n)

This locally named prominence lies on the ridge between Black Canyon and Thibaut Creek about three-tenths of a mile southeast of Peak 12,411. Looking southerly from Highway 395 just north of Aberdeen, it is the prominent tooth on the skyline directly over the highway.

Class 3. First ascent October 16, 1948, by Fred L. Jones. From the head of Thibaut Creek ascend the chute to the base of the northwest face and then go directly up this to the broad top.

Peak 11,810 (11,844n; 3/4 E of Mount Baxter)

Class 3. First ascent September 16, 1935, by Norman Clyde. From Thibaut Creek he ascended the crest of the ridge to east of the peak and climbed west to the summit. It is mostly class 2. An easier ascent is west from Thibaut Creek and up the easy northwest slope. Clyde descended south into the basin at the head of the Little North Fork of Oak Creek. The route is class 1.

Peak 10,643 (1.8 SE of Mount Baxter)

Class 2. First ascent September 16, 1935, by Norman Clyde. He ascended north from the head of the Little North Fork of Oak Creek. It is an easy ascent via the south slope from the Baxter Pass Trail about one mile above the second creek crossing.

Peak 13,031 (13,045n; 1 NE of Black Mountain)

First ascent probably September 14, 1935, by Norman Clyde who prior to and after that date was climbing in the near vicinity, though his allusion to the main crest is obviously incorrect: “On Peak 13,031, on main crest, at an altitude of 11,500 feet picked up a pair of weathered (mountain sheep) horns. No recent evidence except a bed and droppings on the saddle west of peak.”

The next recorded ascent was August 19, 1948, by Fred L. Jones on a traverse from Black Mountain. The route was class 2.

Peak 12,710 (12,720+n; 3/4 W of Kearsarge Peak)

First ascent in 1925 by Norman Clyde: “peak west of Kearsarge.” It is easy from the east, though a deep notch to the west is difficult.

Kearsarge Peak (12,650; 12,598n)

First recorded ascent in 1925 by Norman Clyde. This peak is traversed nearly to the summit by mining trails and is an easy class 1 ascent by them. It has been descended by a more varied route by Art Reyman, Mary DeDecker, Joan DeDecker and Carol DeDecker. Take the steep chute due south of the second or third rocky point from the summit, which ends in a fall below the mine. Climb out of the chute to the north above this and descend by the South Fork of Independence Creek trail to Onion Valley.

Peak 11,988 (12,000+n; 1 E of Mount Gould)

First ascent 1925 by Norman Clyde.

References

Text (mostly historical): SCB, 1895, 221-237; 1896, 241-253, 293-313; 1897, 19, 20, 45-47, 79-81, 85, 106; 1900, 137-147, 153, 168; 1903, 178-183, 190, 191, 259, 261-263; 1904, 3, 7-10; 1905, 229, 232, 234, 280, 284; 1907, 100, 102, 104, 106, 115-127; 1909, 1-22; 1914, 160-163, 188, 189; 1916, 86-92; 1923, 421-426; 1940, 32-34; 1941, 127-129, 142; 1950, 29-76.

Photographs: SCB, year and facing page as shown. Arrow Peak: 1896, 306 (sketch); 1911, 17; 1926, 317; 1940, 14; 1949, 14. Mount Sago: 1910, 238. Mount Baxter: 1950, 36. Black Mountain: 1907, 106; 1911, 71; 1950, 36. Cardinal Mountain: 1896, 308 (sketch); 1940, 14. Mount Clarence King: 1896, 241, 245 (sketches); 1900, 137, 138 (sketches); 1926, 245; 1936, 30; 1949, 14. Mount Cotter: 1900, 137, 138 (sketches). Diamond Peak: 1911, 71. Dragon Peak: 1900, 145 (sketch); 1911, 71. Fin Dome: 1900, 138, 142, 146 (sketches); 1907, 102; 1911, 10, 49, 64; 1941, 14, Mount Gardiner: 1896, frontispiece; 1897, 81; 1900, 136 (sketch); 1944, 46. Goat Mountain: 1905, 284. Observation Peak: 1912, 280. Mount Rixford: 1900, 142, 145 (sketches); 1907, 102; 1910, 183; 1911, 16, 17, 65, 71; 1914, 60, 61; 1919, 431. Mount Ruskin: 1903, 261. Split Mountain: 1896, 308 (sketch); 1903, 261; 1930, 71; 1940, 14. Striped Mountain: 1896, 308 (sketch). Mount Wynne: 1949, 14. Peak 11,527: 1896, 301. Peak 11,904: 1900, 138 (sketch); 1907, 102; 1911, 71. Peak 11,950: 1900, 137 (sketch). Peak 12,067: 1900, 142, 145, 147 (sketches); 1907, 102; 1910, 183; 1911, 16, 17, 65, 71; 1914, 60, 61; 1919, 431; 1936, 31. Peak 12,409: 1900, 145, 147 (sketches); 1907, 102; 1910, 183; 1911, 16, 17; 1919, 431. Peak 12,553: 1900, 140, 141 (sketches). Peak 12,786: 1936, 30.



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