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Southeast Glacier
Route

Southeast Glacier

 
Southeast Glacier

Page Type: Route

Location: California, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 37.68940°N / 119.1981°W

Object Title: Southeast Glacier

Route Type: Scramble

Time Required: One to two days

Difficulty: Class 2-3

Route Quality: 
 - 3 Votes
 

 

Page By: Bob Burd

Created/Edited: Aug 20, 2001 / Oct 19, 2013

Object ID: 155688

Hits: 12760 

Page Score: 74.01%  - 4 Votes 

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Approach

From Agnew Meadows, take the River Trail west from the parking lot. The trail is not well-marked from the trailhead, but there are several side trails that lead to the same place. The trail is flat for about a quarter mile before heading down around 500 feet to the San Joaquin River. Follow the signs to Shadow Lake, crossing the lake at a sturdy bridge.

The trail winds up the SW canyon wall for almost two miles before reaching Shadow Lake. Continue to Ediza Lake. You can pass around Ediza Lake on the north or south side. The north side is shorter but requires crossing a field of large, loose boulders. The south side has a use trail that circles to the west side. If you plan to cross on the north side, you may want to skip the last bridge below the lake and follow a use trail on the north side of the creek that leads to the lake. Crossing the lake at its outlet is difficult to do without getting your boots wet.

The best camping sites in the Ediza area are found at the west and northwest ends of the lake.

Route Description

Climb west from Ediza Lake into the small bench below the Ritter-Banner Saddle. A use trail can be found on the north side of the stream going up to this bench. Looking towards Mt. Ritter, you will see some cliffs below the Southeast Glacier at the SW end of the bench. Secor gives a complicated set of directions to make your way through these cliffs, that is possibly better described by this picture. This route is enjoyable class 2-3, with fine grassy ledges and cascading watercourses surrounding it. pylot offers this description if tackling the route on the descent: From the glacier keep descending along the leftmost stream. As you reach the edge of the cliffs, you'll see a grassy/bushy ramp that goes around the left side of the stream. The ramp transforms into a chute (class 2) and you reach the stream again. Downclimb about 20-25 ft. of class 3 rock, easier on the left. Cross the stream and angle right down another chute (class 2) to the valley floor.

An alternative to this route-finding challenge is to take the easier route to the left (SE) of these cliffs. You can climb climb class 2 rock and slabs to bypass the cliffs. Even if you don't spend much time route-finding, the climbing shouldn't exceed class 3 here. Once the slope lessens some and you begin to reach patches of permanent snow, angle right (west) to the Southeast Glacier.

At the glacier, you can choose to stay on the snow as high as possible, or traverse to the right side of the glacier and climb loose rock and sand on the edge of the glacier (this choice may depend on your preparedness for, and enjoyment of glacier travel).

Follow the glacier as it curves to the right. Ignore all the steep chutes to the south and west, look instead to the north. Near the upper end, you should see an obvious, wide chute running almost due north towards the summit ridge. Some parties report being confused by several chutes here. The skinny one on the left can be climbed, but is more difficult (class 4). Climb the (much) more obvious wide chute (often called the "Secor Chute") on the right. Others have described this as a "slope" rather than a chute, which is more apparent in the upper stretch. It has snow early in the season, and (very) loose sand and rock once the snow melts.

Once at the top of the chute, the slope lessens, and you have a straightforward boulder (or snow, earlier in the season) climb to the summit just to the north.

Most of the route is class 2, and a number of parties have questioned the existence of any class 3 on this route. To be sure, it is usually an easy class 3 climb at most.

An alternative to the Secor chute is "Owen's Chute" which is described in the Clyde Variation and in greater detail by Alan Ritter. This variation takes you quite a bit higher (to the west) on the Southeast Glacier and leads to an easier second-class chute up to the upper bowl. Once in the upper bowl, the routes converge and you scramble to the summit ridge and walk to the summit.

Essential Gear

crampons and axe recommended

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.

Images