ApproachLeConte Gully is the prominent west-facing gully leading to a notch just north of Grizzly Peak's summit. It starts from the east side of the Merced River at Happy Isle, with essentially zero approach. See the main page for information on getting to Happy Isle at the far east end of Yosemite Valley.
Route DescriptionThere are several route choices one can take up LeConte Gully. A somewhat circuitous, but technically easier route is described by Roper that follows the beginning of the old Sierra Point Trail. The beginning of this trail was erased by the NPS when the trail was abandoned (due to excessive injuries sustained by visitors on this rough trail) many years ago. To find the trail, hike south on the JMT where it starts (a large sign with trail mileage marks the beginning, about 1/4 mile south of the road on the east side of the Merced River) for about 100 yards. At the first nature sign found on the left side of the trail, leave the trail and follow the fall line up. You should eventually encounter ducks and/or a faint use trails that eventually converge on the remaining sections of the Sierra Point Trail. Follow this up for some 500ft of gain until the trail begins an obvious traverse south towards Sierra Point (if you haven't been to Sierra Point, use this opportunity to do so - well worth the detour). Where the trail heads south, leave the trail and traverse left across on wide, tree-laden benches towards LeConte Gully. This will avoid some of the technical sections lower in the gully.
Alternatively, you can head directly up to LeConte Gully from the Merced River. Follow the fall line up, favoring the right side, through forest cover and some bouldering to one of the technical sections about 300 feet up from the river. Of the three sections we encountered, all were fairly stiff class 4. There is a side channel to the right (south) of the main gully that appears easier than the main gully to the left in the lower and middle sections. Higher up, hug the far right side of Grizzly's West Face for the best protection in climbing the steep, loose upper section. Once at the notch, follow the East Side route to the summit.
Route-finding is somewhat complicated, but interesting, so take your time in choosing your route. Do not attack the route stubbornly, be flexible in trying several options to find the easiest route. Most of the route is class 2 with plenty of class 3, only a few difficult sections where the passages constrict.
Descending parties have used various amounts of rappels (3-7) depending on route choices and conditions. It would be foolish to descend the route without a rope unless you have first ascended it to ascertain the route and difficulty.