This route departs from Saddlebag Lake, near the top of Tioga Pass. Saddlebag Lake is located 2 miles north of the Junction Campground on Highway 120 (Tioga Pass Road). A small road leads from the Junction Campground (near Ellery Lake) up Lee Vining Creek to the lake. In summer, a ferry option allows you to shave 2 miles off the hike by transporting you to the north shore of Saddlebag Lake.
In winter, Tioga Pass road is closed 3 miles west of US 395 (near Lee Vining). In mid-Spring (usually coincident with the commencment of fishing season), the road is plowed up to the eastern part entrance of Yosemite. However, the Saddlebag Lake road is usually not cleared of snow until much later in the Spring. Thus, depending on conditions and time of year, you may have to use some combination of car, foot, snowshoes and/or skis to get to the start of this route, and you may have to start from either the bottom of Lee Vining Canyon (10+ miles to Saddlebag Lake) or the Junction Campground on Highway 120 (2+ miles to Saddlebag Lake). If starting from either of these points, simply follow the then snow-covered roads to the dam across Saddlebag Lake. The road terminates at the dam, which is the boundary of the Hoover Wilderness.
[Note: a map and detailed photo of this route are available on the SW Face route page.]
Hike/ski in a NW direction along the east shore of Saddlebag Lake to its inlet. From there, head due W, passing Greenstone Lake along its S shore. Ascend the rocky bench to the NW of the lake and angle upwards towards the SE Face of North Peak, where there are two prominent chutes (usually marked by two seperate snowfields). To keep things easy, follow the left hand chute, which angles slightly left rather than heading directly up underneath the summit. This chute is a straightforward climb over snow (early season) or mixed scree and talus, and tops out on the SW Ridge, just in front of the rock pinnacle seen on the right side of this photograph. Follow the easy class 2 ridge from here up the short distance to the summit.
A more difficult variation follows the next prominent snow chute to climber's right on the SE Face. This chute leads up to a large notch about 400' below the summit. This notch is also the top of the North Couloir route, which comes up from the other side of the peak. From here, steep class 3 climbing leads directly up to the summit, with a class 4 move required just below the summit.
Special Note: Although it is not the tallest peak in the area, the views from the summit of North Peak are outstanding. (panorama looking north) (panorama looking south)
In winter, an ice axe and crampons should be used. The chute is quite steep and a slide could be difficult to arrest without an axe.
If you're going in winter, skis or snowshoes are essential for the long approach. The SE chute is an *awesome* ski or snowboard descent, with a consistent pitch in the high 30s.
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