From Mono Meadows, follow the trail mostly downhill about three miles to a junction with the trail from Glacier Point followed shortly by a junction with the Buena Vista Trail. Cross Illilouette Creek to yet another trail junction. Head east up the sandy slopes a mile and a half to meet the Illilouette Creek Trail. Follow this trail about five or six miles though patches of dense forest, open granite, and the remains of several fires. Just past Lower Merced Pass Lake (just visible through the trees, easy to miss) you will find the junction with Red Peak Pass Trail and Merced Pass Tail.
From Quartz Mountain, follow the trail downhill about .8 miles to Chiquito Pass. Just past the fence at the border of Yosemite National Park, turn right at the junction and follow the trail northeast about 3.5 miles to the next trail junction. Turn left and proceed 5 miles to the next junction then turn right and head north about 2.5 miles towards Moraine Meadows. Turn left (west) and hike another 1.5 miles to the Merced Pass Trail. Turn right and climb over Merced Pass 3.5 miles to Upper Merced Pass Lake (not visible form the trail) and the junction with the Illilouette Creek Trail.
Turn east onto the Red Peak Pass Trail and climb fairly steadily another three miles to Lower Ottoway Lake (an excellent spot for a base camp). The trail continues past the lower lake and switchbacks up the steep head wall below the upper lakes. Leave the trail when you can see the first Upper Ottoway Lake.
Pass the Upper Ottoway Lake on the North and East shores. On the south side of the larger lake, a large talus field must be crossed. Fortunately, this is the only significant talus encountered before reaching the Northeast Ridge. Follow easy grass and granite ramps up to the obvious saddle between Ottoway Peak and Merced Peak. This saddle actually has its own register. The register calls the saddle “Snow Pass” although I have never seen this name referenced in any literature.
From Snow Pass climb the Northeast ridge over class two blocks. Watch out for the occasional loose block. The easiest route starts at the highest part of the ridge then eases left (south) into a shallow gully. Just below the obvious sub-peak, traverse left and cross the ridge coming up from Triple Divide Peak Follow the south side of the ridge to the summit. For more exciting climbing, follow the north edge of the ridge all the way from the saddle over class 3 blocks with some “interesting” exposure above the North Face.
Bring your normal gear for a long day hike. In late spring or early summer, crampons and ice axe may be desirable for the climb to Snow Pass.
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