OverviewMount Ericsson (13,608 feet)
Sierra Nevada, California, USA
Mount Ericsson is a high, remote peak situated at the head of the Kern Canyon on the Kings-Kern Divide. The isolated, pyramid-shaped peak is an impressive sight from the south, in the vicinity of Lake South America. Its summit offers an expansive panorama of the entire Kern Basin. Relaxing on the summit, you can see the entire Great Western Divide down to the Kaweahs. Then, looking across the great U-shaped Kern canyon, you can see Mount Whitney on the Sierra Crest. It is truly a magnificent view.
The summit may be reached most easily via the class 2 West Ridge from Lucys Foot Pass. There are numerous class 3 and 4 routes, the most spectacular of which is the long and beautiful South Ridge.
Unfortunately - or fortunately, depending on your perspective - Mount Ericsson is a long ways from anywhere. You're looking at a minimum of 2 days of hiking to reach the peak. If you approach from the west, you'll have a 25+ mile walk. From the east, Shepherd's Pass (cringe!).
RoutesThere are five routes described in R. J. Secor's The High Sierra: Peaks, Passes, and Trails. The South Ridge is the most obvious and classic route on Mount Ericsson, but to keep the climb within the “class 3” rating involves numerous deviations off the crest and devious route finding.
Not listed in Secor's guidebook is the Direct South Ridge is an elegant class 5 route that, to my knowledge, has never been done!
|West Ridge||Class 2|
|South Ridge||Class 3|
|Direct South Ridge||Class 5|
|East Face||Class 2-3|
|Northeast Ridge||Class 3|
|Northwest Couloir||Class 4|
Which summit is really the highest?
"I climbed this peak on 3 September 2009 with a friend from Lucys Foot Pass. It appeared to us that one of the four peaks just to the south might actually be higher than the one on which the summit register is currently located. One might refer to the peaks running from north to south in the immediate vicinity as:
1. Broad mass on which register is currently placed
2. Phallic tower (clearly shorter)
3. Cockscomb (significantly shorter)
4. Crest of buttress with class 4+ summit fang
5. Crest of buttress with class 3 summit
"We first climbed #5, but #4 seemed higher. We then climbed to the base of the #4 summit fang, but realized that it probably wasn't where the register was placed (the route being rated class 2). I peeked through a slot toward the north and saw the easy broad class 2 gulley containing #3 and #2 (bounded by the easy class 2 rocks leading to #1). We descended and found a way around the buttress below #4, then climbed #1. From here, it seemed like #4 was actually the tallest (confirming our impressions from the vicinity of #4 and #5).
"There is a picture taken from the northeast on p.139 of R. J. Secor's The High Sierra - Peaks Passes & Trails (3rd edition, second edition has same picture on p.134.) Here, it appears that Secor has in fact labeled #4 as "MOUNT ERICSSON" (perhaps inadvertently), and I believe I can see all five of the summits referred to above.
"It made me wonder whether Bolton and Lucy Brown happily convinced themselves that the class 2 summit "must" be higher, and then those who followed were only too happy to agree with them.
"Would that my own conscience could be so easily convinced."
West Ridge (Class 2)The West Ridge is the easiest route to the summit. Climb directly to the summit from Lucys Foot Pass.
Photo by schmed
South Ridge (Class 3)The South Ridge is a very long, serrated ridge. Secor’s guidebook describes the route as being “class 3.” I have been on the South Ridge and I would rate it a “Norman Clyde Class 3,” except for the fact that the first ascent party did not include Norman Clyde! A climb along the crest of the South Ridge is definitely solid class 5, so the first ascent party must have wandered all over the south ridge in search of easier ground order for the climb to have obtained a class 3 rating.
Direct South Ridge (Class 5)The Direct South Ridge follows the crest of the south ridge. It appears to be a fine class 5 climb that, to my knowledge, has never been done!
East Face (Class 2-3)The East Face is a more or less quick and direct route to the summit from Lake South America.
Northeast Ridge (Class 3)The northeast ridge is a scramble from Harrison Pass.
Northwest Couoloir (Class 4)The Northwest Couloir is one of Norman Clyde's routes. Climb the steep, loose chute between Mount Ericsson and Ericsson Crag 1A.
Getting ThereInformation on the approach and red tape can be obtained by going to the Kings-Kern Divide web page by foweyman.
[img:506485:alignleft:medium:R & R at a lake below Mount Ericsson]
View Larger Map