Sierra High Route – Day 4 (24 miles)
The morning was cold. I packed up camp and the vertical scramble out of the valley helped to warm me up quickly. There were these bands of vertical rock throughout the climb. Most were easily avoidable but I got stuck underneath one and has to push through bramble before I found a crack I could pass.
Another quick ascent and I was above the bands and started traversing on large talus. This was slow going. It opened out to a couple of lakes. At the first lake, I met a group that was going from West to East across the Sierra, and one of their group had run the route that I was currently on. Slightly crazy.
I walked to the second lake and has to ford the outlet. It was knee deep and fairly easy, but I would imagine it would be difficult early in the season.
I then climbed a little knoll and was confronted with Glacier Pass. The guidebook calls it imposing, and I have to agree. It had three cliffs with a waterfall on each and from here no visible way up.
I walked closer and could see the route up the first cliff. It was a narrow 45-degree break that I could walk up. The to get up the second involved a long, steep scramble next to the creek.
I a left with one final cliff to negotiate and then the pass.
The last cliff was by far the hardest, with a few decent scrambles up short vertical sections. I would walk until I found a break in the wall and then head up. After a few of these the trail flattened out and I was left with a long talus walk to the final lake and the pass.
The first thing I noticed was the lake. It was stunning, with that aqua blue that only comes from glacial melt. Looking up I could see Mt Ritter and Mt Banner with a big glacier in the middle.
I then got worried that my pass was over the glacier. I checked my maps and saw I was heading to the left over an easy saddle. I think this is my favourite pass I’ve ever done!
I took a break here until I was cold and then headed down the pass towards Thousand Island Lake. I crossed the top of the lake and went over a tiny bump of a pass, that is so small it doesn’t even have a name, towards Granite Lake.
Granite lake was another spectacular lake. I needed to walk across the top of it but chose to walk a couple of extra miles and go around it.
This same pattern continued for the rest of the day. Pass to Nediver Lake, pass to Ediza (which I had to walk around and anyone doing the JMT should detour and see!), then Iceberg Lake, Noname Lake and finally Minaret Lake.
The steep peaks of the Ritter Range and all these beautiful lakes was one hell of a section.
I was very tired by this stage.
I started down towards The Devil’s Postpile and Red’s Meadow. I got within a couple of miles of the valley before it got too dark to walk.
Another tough day on this trail!