Broken Finger Peak is the impressive peak that dominates the region around Tamarack Lakes, just a couple of miles east of Little Lakes Valley in the Eastern Sierra. The summit lies at the southeast end of a surprisingly flat area along the otherwise dramatically serrated ridge that connects Wheeler Peak
to Mt. Morgan
. Despite its proximity to one of the most accessible and heavily traveled areas in the High Sierra, the peak is rarely climbed. In the 1970s and 80s, several years would typically pass before an ascent; with the growing popularity of climbing in the 1990s--and the increasing availability of guidebooks such as Secor's--it now sees visitors once or twice a year.
Although relatively few people make it up here, the peak is well worth visiting nonetheless; the scrambling is interesting via both the northwest ridge
(class 3) and south and east ridge
(a class 3-4 traverse to/from Wheeler Peak; consult that page for details), the rock's relatively sound if care is taken, and summit views are quite good, taking in nearby Mt. Morgan, Mt. Tom
, and Mt. Humphreys
, with a particularly good perspective of the peaks around Granite Park: Merriam Peak
, Royce Peak
, Feather Peak
, and Bear Creek Spire
The peak's colourful name was chosen to commemorate its attempted first ascent, in which Andy Smatko broke his finger while deflecting a loosened boulder along the southeast ridge. He later returned to make the peak's first ascent, with Frank Yates and Bill Schuler, via the easier northeast couloir and northwest ridge.
Broken Finger Peak is most easily reached from the Tamarack Lakes trailhead, which starts at Rock Creek Lake. Follow the driving directions on the Eastern Sierra - Logistical Center
page to reach this trailhead, and hike several miles up the well-signed trail past Kenneth Lake to Tamarack Lakes, where it fades out. The northeast couloir and east ridge are both easily reached from here.
The south ridge can also be reached from an old mining road that leads up Morgan Creek from the Pine Creek Tungsten Mill; consult the aforementioned logistical page for driving directions to Pine Creek. This approach would involve considerable loose talus--of the same variety that resulted in the peak's name--and is best avoided.
Red Tape, Conditions, etc.
The peak lies in the John Muir Wilderness and all the usual Eastern Sierra red tape and conditions apply. See the Eastern Sierra - Logistical Center
page for the relevant details.
When To Climb
Because of its proximity to Rock Creek Road, which is plowed six miles in to the Sno-Park in winter, the peak could plausibly be climbed year-round. Climbing is easiest from May through October, when the road is open to Rock Creek Lake and most of the snow is gone from the approach. Early season ascents (May-June) may be preferable to avoid some of the reported loose rock in the couloirs around the peak.
The peak is most easily climbed as a dayhike from Rock Creek Lake, but if you insist on backpacking, nice spots are found around Kenneth Lake and Dorothy Lake. (The area around Tamarack Lakes is more barren and consists mostly of talus and snow). Developed camping is found in some dozen Forest Service campgrounds around the lake and along Rock Creek Road; consult the Eastern Sierra - Logistical Center
page for links to the relevant Inyo National Forest pages. Note that because of the popularity of the area, dispersed camping is prohibited along Rock Creek Road, although your chances of an unwanted ranger encounter are slim if you exercise suitable discretion.