This is a huge ridge that is very dominant on highway 395 about 15 minutes south of Mammoth Lakes that overlooks Crowley Lake. It does not seem like many people climb it, that is why it is such a great peak. The only useful information that I have found about this mountain is Moynier's Backcountry skiing book. The route that we climbed took me two tries, and both of them were in the winter. Both times we followed the East Ridge. The East ridge is unrelenting, and there are alot of false summits. Class 4 climbing should be expected. The ridge offers amazing views the whole time.
The easiest route that I have seen is a large gully North of the East Ridge. It should go at class 2-3, as long as reasonable route finding is done. This gully will lead right to the summit of Morgan. We used this as a decent, and surprisingly it took us right back to our car. This mountain is a great challenge for those seeking a long alpine route that can be done in the winter as long as risk management and route finding skills are thought about.
From Highway 395 turn (not exit) onto Crowley Lake drive. If coming from Mammoth Lakes this will be a right hand turn 10 to 15 minutes down the road. At the obvious stop sign turn on to Mcgee Creek Road. Follow this road for roughly 3 miles. A campground will be passed on the left and eventually a pack station will be reached. We parked about a quarter mile before the pack station, and a creek is on the left hand side of the road. Cross the creek and head up to Morgan. If the gully is preferred it will be a slog up and right, if the ridge is preferred it is a mandatory hour slog to get to. The line of least resistance that we found to the ridge was straight up from the campground. Follow the ridge or gully to the highest point on the ridge.
No permits are required unless travelling overnight. I would not recommend spending the night on the ridge because it has been very cold both times we were up there. If a permit is needed they can be obtrained at the Ranger Station at the beginning of the town of Mammoth Lakes.
Safety is a huge concern on this mountain. The rock is not good, it consists of this crappy fractured reddish rock and shale. We did not bring a rope, and it would be difficult to protect anything. Both times on the ridge we encountered some scary class 4 scrambling. This mountain is also known for avalanches, so beware, especially right at the beginng when getting to the ridge. I'd imagine the large gully could also be an avalanche trap, so be careful. The ridge could be very difficult to get off in a hurry, so make sure the weather is good. Some of the SE gullies drain into cliffs and they can be very icy. I would not recommend bailing down them. The first time we tried it we encountered what felt like 100 mph winds, and it was scary. The second time it was bitter cold. It is also important to allow enough time. It took us nine hours to get the summit from the East Ridge, and two hours to descend the gully. It is a full day affair. Half of our descent was also done in the dark. The bottom line is be prepared for anything on this mountain, and it is not easy.
BRING A MOUNTAINEERING AX- during both attempts a member of our party has had to self arrest.
When To Climb
We climbed it in the winter, and it would be alot easier in the summer. In the summer loose scree will have to be dealt with. Make sure snow conditions are decent if attempting in the winter. This is a year round peak as long as preparation is taken. There are some nice looking chutes to ride also that don't look too difficult to get too.
There is lots of camping around the Mammoth area, it would probably be best to check at the ranger station for the best spots. There is a campsite on Mcgee creek road that is closed in the winter at the foot of Mount Morgan. I have seen campers on the side of Mcgee Creek Road as well. I needed it would be possible to find a somewhat sheltered spot on Morgan, but I would not recommend it.
Rumor has it that sierra snow conditions can be found on www.sierrabackcountry.org. I always talk to the ski patrollers at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area and see what the snow conditions are like there. The ranger station in Mammoth Lakes could help you out also. It would be in your favor to be able to asess snow conditions when you are on Morgan as well.
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