Two routes are described in R.J. Secor's book: Southeast Slope, class 2; Southeast Face, class 3. A good argument for upgrading the Southeast Face rating to class 4 could be made, however - climber beware. A class 3 route not in the book ascends the southwest slope and because the footing is solid all the way to the ridge it is easier and more enjoyable than the loose sand found in the steep chute that makes up the Southeast Slope. The base of the summit pyramid is gained after a short traverse along a ridge leading from a false summit to the southwest. The fun begins here with many possible ways to the top, all requiring careful hand and foot placements on solid rock with lots of exposure. The scramble is thrilling and affords stunning views of the Hoover and Northern Yosemite backcountry. There is no summit register and the lack of footprints on the sandy ridge suggest few people climb it.
From Bridgeport, CA drive 13 miles south on US 395 to Conway summit. Virginia Lakes trailhead is located 6 miles west of US 395 at the terminus of Virginia Lakes Road. The main trail heads west from the parking lot at Virginia Lakes into the Hoover Wilderness. The approach is moderately difficult, climbing above treeline to Summit Pass before descending switchbacks for 1,000 feet to Hoover Lakes. Epidote Peak lies on the west shore and rises directly from the lakes.
A large dirt lot at Virginia Lakes trailhead offers plenty of free parking. Day hikes do not require permits but overnight stays do and can be reserved ahead of time by mail or picked up on day of departure from the Bridgeport Ranger Station, 1 mile south of the town of Bridgeport on US 395. Unknown if the Virginia Lakes road is maintained in winter. Bears are active in the area and the use of bear-proof cannisters, though not currently required, are recommended as most backcountry camping is above treeline.
When To Climb
Epidote Peak is usually climbed in the summer and fall months. A winter ski tour and climb would be easily attainable.
Trumbull Lake Campground has many improved campsites and is about one half mile from the Virginia Lakes traihead. A nightly use fee is charged.
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