OverviewMount Julius Caesar (MJC) is located in the John Muir Wilderness, 2 to 3 miles south of better known Mount Mills and Mount Abbot. MJC's remote location (9.5 miles and 6,000' elevation gain from the nearest trailhead), may require an overnight excursion depending on the fitness of the climbers. The easiest route is a class 2 traverse from Italy Pass up the westward facing slope. The summit offers a fantastic view of the Sierra crest with Mt Mills and Mt Abbot to the north, Royce and Merriam Peaks to the south. Glancing through the summit log left behind by the Sierra Club, the peak is visited by about 15 to 20 people each year.
Getting ThereMount Julius Caesar is almost always approached from the Pine Creek Trailhead east of Bishop. There is a good trail followed by an easy class 2 cross country route through Granite Park to Italy Pass on the south side of the mountain.
Mosquito Flat Trailhead is an alternative to Pine Creek. The trailhead is 2800 feet higher saving some elevation gain, but this advantage is partially offset by the pass at Cox Col just north of Bear Creek Spire being nearly 700 feet higher. From Cox Col it is necessary to drop 900 feet before navigating to the north side of Mount Julius Caesar further eroding this approach’s advantages. This route is more challenging (class 2-3) especially with a backpack and really only makes more sense if also climbing the nearby peaks north of Lake Italy.
Pine Creek Trailhead (37.36110° N, 118.69184° W)
Turn west onto Pine Creek Road (signed for Rovana) off Highway 395 approximately 10 miles northwest of Bishop (28 miles south of the Highway 203 intersection to Mammoth Lakes). Follow Pine Creek Road 10 miles west to the trailhead parking area.
Mosquito Flat Trailhead (37.43516° N, 118.74710° W)
Turn south from Highway 395 onto Rock Creek Road at Toms Place, approximately 15 miles south of the Highway 203 intersection to Mammoth Lakes (23 miles northwest of Bishop). Follow Rock Creek Road 10 miles southwest to the trailhead parking area at the end of the road.
ApproachFrom Pine Creek trailhead, hike up the trail toward Pine Lake and Honeymoon Lake. Just above Honeymoon lake (6 miles from trailhead) there is a good camping spot and launching point for the second day summit attempt. On the second day, set course for Italy Pass through Granite Park. The trail is well marked for the first mile or two, but you quickly reach Granite Park and the trail all but disappears among the boulders. Continue heading west and Mount Julius Ceasar and Italy Pass will quickly come into view.
Route OverviewOnce at Italy Pass, begin your ascent by walking up the south ridge, favoring the westward facing slope. The climbing is fairly easy among loose rocks and boulders. Note the summit is actually the left most peak, as seen from Italy Pass, and not the south shoulder which is about 200 feet lower and often mistaken as the summit as viewed from Granite Park. As you near the summit (around 13,000 feet) the rocks become noticeably more difficult to negotiate, and will require some extra care. Once on the summit, watch your step as the north facing slope of MJC has a nasty drop of several hundred feet.
Red TapeWilderness Permits:
From either Pine Creek/Italy Pass or Mosquito Flat the route to Mount Julius Caesar begins on Inyo National Forest land (the peak itself is on the boundary of Inyo and Sierra National Forests). No permits are required for day trips but overnight trips require one throughout the year. Permits can be picked up at the White Mountain Ranger Station in Bishop or the Mammoth Ranger Station in Mammoth Lakes. Quotas are in place May 1 through November 1. Check the Inyo National Forest wilderness permit website for the most current information and reservation availability.
Bear canisters are not required for either the Piute Pass or Pine Creek Pass trails, but proper food storage is important.
Fires are prohibited above 10,000 feet and in the Pine Creek drainage north of Pine Creek Pass.
Inyo National Forest Wilderness Permit Office
351 Pacu Lane, Suite 200
Bishop, CA 93514
Wilderness Information Line: (760) 873-2485
Permit Reservation Line: (760) 873-2483
Current ConditionsCurrent NOAA / National Weather Service Forecast
When To ClimbSpring through fall is the normal season for visits to the summit of Mount Julius Caesar. Pine Creek trailhead is lower elevation (7400 feet) and far more accessible than any of the alternatives in the offseason and would be the best choice if targeting a winter ascent. Contact the Inyo National Forest office in Bishop as needed for winter road conditions. In some years snow may be present at higher elevations well into spring.
CampingCamping is allowed in the area around the mountain as long as proper permits are obtained.
Etymology“Alfred H. and Myrtle Prater, who in 1928 made the first ascent, chose the name because of the peak's proximity to Lake Italy. (Letter, Hervey Voge to USGS, August 23, 1955; also SCB 19, no. 3, June 1934: 97.) The peak was not named on a map until the Mt. Abbot 15-minute quad, 1953.” – Peter Browning, Place Names of the Sierra Nevada (2004)
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