OverviewMt Jepson, once known unofficially as "The Pine Marten", is a seldom climbed and often overlooked summit on the ridge linking Mt Sill to the Palisade Crest. By its easiest route it is class 2, but the summit has a sheer NE face that includes some technical climbs to the summit.
Admittedly this mountain doesn't offer much summitting interest in comparison to the surrounding peaks in the Palisades region, but after having climbed it, I would say that a trip to the summit is well worth the effort if you're in the area. You have some really nice views of Polemonium Peak and Mt Sill from an angle that few people have seen these peaks from. It also has a stellar view of the Palisade Crest, with Gandalf Peak rising prominently above the jagged ridgeline - in fact Mt Jepson can easily be 'bagged' while climbing the Crest, as they both share the same approach from the east or the west.
While the peak is easy by technical rating, it is still quite a physical challenge to reach the summit. All routes to the peak require significant cross-country travel over rough terrain. The easiest approach is via the South Fork of Big Pine, where one must climb up through Scimitar Pass, gaining some 6,500 ft round trip.
Getting ThereBig Pine TH
From 395 head west on Crocker Street (aka. Glacier Lodge Road) in the town of Big Pine. The turn is by the Texaco Station. Follow the road about 13 miles to its end at the mouth of Big Pine.
If you're staying the night, you must park at the backpacker's parking lot, about 0.5 miles back down the road.
Red Tape & Mountain ConditionsOvernight permits are required and quotas for the South Fork of Big Pine Creek are in effect from May 15 to September 15. The South Fork is far less popular than the North Fork trail, so getting permits is not usually a problem. Those approaching from the south will be travelling through and camping in SeKi National Park, also requiring permits. Everything you need to know about conditions, permits and regulations can be found on the Eastern Sierra - Logisitcal Center page.
When To ClimbMay to October are considered the prime climbing months in the area, although it might be best done as a spring climb so that the loose talus and scree around Scimitar Pass is still underneath the snowpack. The approach is long and hard during this ideal time of the year, so a winter approach would be longer and would require much more time and gear. Also, the final stretches up to Scimitar Pass could be avalanche prone.
CampingThere are a couple of campsite in the area. The Big Pine Campground is closest to the trailhead.
SAGE FLAT CAMPGROUND - 7,400' - USFS Campground. Via U.S.395 tum west on Crocker Street in Big Pine, 8 miles to camp. Restrooms, piped water, grills, firepits, tables, fishing. 28 spaces.
UPPER SAGE FLAT CAMPGROUND - 7,600' - USFS Campground. Reservations. Via U. S.395 turn west on Crocker Street in Big Pine, 9 miles to camp. Restrooms, piped water, grills, firepits, tables, fishing. 21 spaces.
PALISADE / CLYDE GROUP CAMPGROUNDS - 7,600' - USFS Campground. Reservations. Restrooms, piped water, grills, tables, fishing. 2 spaces.
BIG PINE CREEK CAMPGROUND - 7,700' - USFS Campground. Reservations. Via U.S.395 tum west on Crocker Street in Big Pine, 10 miles to camp. Restrooms, piped water, grills, firepits, tables, fishing. 30 spaces.
FIRST FALLS WALK-IN CAMP - 8,300' - USFS Campground. Stream water, pit toilets, tables, grills, fishing. 5 spaces.
Camping is also available in most areas of the John Muir and Sequoia/Kings Wilderness areas. For north side approaches, by far the most popular camp location is found along the shores of Elinore Lake. With shade and easy access to water, Elinore Lake is only about 1 1/2 miles from the summit.
On the south side, suitable campsites can be found along the John Muir Trail in the vicinity of Palisade Lakes or lower down in Deer Creek Meadow where Glacier Creek joins Palisade Creek. Higher campsites in more barren surroundings can be found in Palisade Basin or along the shores of Lake 3559m.