Mt. Gilbert features one of the finest ice climbs in the High Sierra, the excellent North Couloir route. This 900', 65 degree ice gully is visable from the parking lot at South Lake. The climb is rated III, 5.6, AI2 or WI3. For the High Sierra ice climber, this is a " must do " classic climb of the range!
There seems to be some confusion regarding the name of this route. The Climbers Guide to the High Sierra ( Steve Roper, 1976 ) called it the Northeast Couloir. The Sierra Classics ( Moynier / Fiddler 1993 ) calls it the Northwest Couloir. The latest edition of The High Sierra, Peaks, Passes and Trails by R. J. Secor calls it the North Couloir ( maybe he wanted to split the difference )! Rest assured, there is only one ice gully on Mount Gilbert. I call great fun!
Other routes include -
The Southeast Slope - class 1.
The East Ridge - class 2 via a loose chute from above the Treasure Lakes.
Take Hwy 168 from Bishop to the trail head at South Lake. Follow the Bishop Pass trail 1 mile to the Treasure Lakes trail. Before one reaches the Treasure Lakes, class 1 - 2 cross country hiking up slabs leads to possible campsites below the Northeast Face of Mt. Gilbert.
Wilderness permits are required for overnight camping. There is a wilderness permit quota in effect from May 1st to November 1st. 60% of the wilderness permit quota is advance reservation ( $5.00 per person ) and 40% is available on a walk in first come first serve basis ( free ). See the Inyo National Forest website at http://www.r5.fs.fed.us/inyo/ for the most current information.
Inyo National Forest - Wilderness Permit Office - 873 North Main Street, Bishop, CA 93514
Reservation Line - 760 - 873 - 2483
Wilderness Permit Fax Line 760 - 873 - 2484
Wilderness Information - 760 - 873 - 2485
When To Climb
Best climbing months are June - September or October. Access is easy to Mt. Gilbert, making this a good winter objective also.
There are several rough treeless camping spots below Mount Gilbert. Overnight camping is allowed with a wilderness permit. See the Red Tape section above.
See the Inyo National Forest website - http://www.r5.fs.fed.us/inyo/ for current conditions.
For more information see the following books - The High Sierra, Peaks, Passes and Trails, by R. J. Secor, and Sierra Classics - 100 Best Climbs in the High Sierra, by John Moynier and Claude Fiddler.
From the summit register on Mount Gilbert - "3 September 1972 First Ascent via the couloir on the Northeast Face. 6 pitches, some 60, mostly 50-55°. In contemporary parlance, it was faar ouut (sic). We have named it Engram Couloir, a tribute to Scientology. Dan Eaton, Ron Cale, Al Fowler. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did."
Obviously their name didn't stick!
Eastern High Sierra information
- Eastern Sierra Webpage
Good eastern High Sierra information
- Inyo National Forest Website
Current Forest Service information and wilderness permit information
- Mt Gilbert NE Couloir (August 13, 2000) Michael Gordon & Alois Smrz
- Gilbert/Johnson dayhike - June 14, 2002
- World's Best Alpine Climbing Trip...(ver. 2003)