OverviewTunnabora Peak is located along the Sierra Crest, west of Lone Pine, CA. At 13,565 feet, the peak is overshadowed by its higher neighbours to the south, Mts. Russell, Whitney, and Muir. Tunnabora's relatively diminutive stature in comparison to these 14ers, in combination with what could charitably be described as less than classic climbing (some trip reports have given it the rather pejorative appellation of Tunnaboring), means the peak is infrequently climbed. But those few who do make it up here are treated to excellent views that compensate for the poor climbing. To the south, one looks over unusual Tulainyo Lake, one of the highest lakes in the continental United States, to Mt. Russell's impressive North Ridge. To the north lies the immense Mt. Williamson and Vacation Pass.
Tunnabora is perhaps best climbed in combination with some of the aforementioned peaks. A loop of Carillon, Tunnabora, Russell, Whitney, and Muir can be done out of Whitney Portal as a reasonable dayhike--the scenery is grand, the scrambling excellent on Russell, Whitney, and Muir, and the loop knocks off five SPS peaks in one day. Fun!
The usual route up Tunnabora Peak is a fairly tedious slog up its sandy south slopes from Tulainyo Lake (class 1). Keeping to the left may offer marginally more solid footing, but don't expect a great climb whichever way you go. Another option is offered by a chute on the northwest face, which is class 2 from George Creek.
Getting ThereThe peak is most easily approached out of Whitney Portal. From Lone Pine, follow Whitney Portal Road for thirteen miles to the abundant parking at the road's end (elevation 8,365 feet).
From Whitney Portal, hike up the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek and hike over Russell-Carillon Col (class 2-3) to Tulainyo Lake. Russell-Carillon Col is also the approach to Mt. Russell's East Ridge; follow the approach directions for that climb to reach the pass. The north side of the col consists of steep ledges and talus; angle slightly to the right on the descent for easier terrain. Tulainyo Lake is passed on its west side. The peak is an easy climb from here.
Cleaver Col (class 3) offers an alternative approach to Tulainyo Lake from Whitney Portal; the pass is located 0.2mi NE of Mt. Carillon. It is lower elevation than Russell-Carillon Col, and may offer more solid footing than the sand slog that's found on the south side of the latter pass. Tulainyo Lake may also be reached via an easy hike from the Pacific Crest Trail through the Wallace/Wales Lakes basin.
Red TapeTunnabora Peak is located outside the Whitney Zone. No permits are required for dayhikes. A wilderness permit is required for overnight visits; contact Inyo National Forest for details.
When To ClimbGiven the relatively short approach out of Whitney Portal, Tunnabora can be climbed year-round, although dayhikes are likely only a reasonable option in the summer months (typically May through October).
An early season snow climb would be preferable to the sand slog found in later season. If you choose this option, May would likely offer the best climbing, as the southern exposure of the standard route would cause it to melt out early.
Mountain ConditionsEastern Sierra Road & Trail conditions, plus permit information.
MOUNT WHITNEY RANGER STATION
640 S. Main Street
P.O. Box 8
Lone Pine, CA 93545
(760) 876-6201 TDD
Open year round, but staffed spring through fall.
Highway 395 at the south end of Lone Pine.
See the Mt. Whitney Page for more sources of information.
The NWS Forecast tends to be the most reliable source of weather information for the area.
CampingBackcountry camping is found at Tulainyo Lake (limited spots along the northwest shore), Upper Boy Scout Lake (a popular option), and Wallace/Wales Lake basin.
For those dayhiking the peak, Lone Pine features an abundance of motels, as well as the free Tuttle Creek campground.
Etymology"George R. Davis, USGS, made the first ascent in August 1905 during the survey for the Whitney 30' map. (SCB 10, no. 2, Jan. 1917: 231.) He apparently named the peak at this time. There is no explanation of the meaning of the Indian-sounding name. The name appears on the map in 1907, but is not in J. N. LeConte's 'Elevations.' (SCB 4, no. 4, June 1903: 290-91.)"
- Peter Browning, Place Names of the Sierra Nevada