Very remote, mysterious high peak in Kings Canyon National Park, located at the head of Disappearing Creek and guarding the entrance to the Enchanted Gorge, along with Scylla just across the gorge. Named for the mythological daughter of Poseidon and Gaia and turned into a monster by Zeus. Seldom visited, dark and forboding. An adventure climb in the heart of the trail-less Sierra.
Charybdis is located west of the Sierra crest, about 3 miles cross-country south of John Muir / Pacific Crest Trail in the Evolution Valley / Muir Pass area. This area is a popular hangout for long-distance backpackers and JMT/PCT through-hikers in summer.
Charybdis requires a long trek from anywhere. It can be approached from four trailheads: Lake Sabrina, North Lake, South Lake, and Florence Lake on the west side of the Sierra. Approaches from Lake Sabrina and North Lake require cross-country travel across the Sierra Crest through class 3 Echo Col or class 2 Lamarck Col. Distances to the peak are the following: Sabrina/Echo Col - 16 mi, North Lake/Lamarck Col - 18 mi, South Lake - 23 mi, Florence Lake - 30+ mi.
Likely the fastest approach would be from Sabrina Lake
via Echo col (directly south of Echo Lake, class 3, easier than it looks), to the John Muir Trail/Pacific Crest Tail. Follow the JMT a short distance to Muir Pass. From the pass, again cross country over Solomons Pass just west of Mt. Solomons. A reasonable camp can be made at Lake 11520+ in Ionian Basin. No fish in the basin, and the lakes may remain frozen year round. Sabrina Lake trailhead (9000 ft) is reached via hwy 168 from Bishop Ca.
The approach from North Lake
crosses the Sierra Crest at Lamarck Col (class 2, an easy scramble), then descend Darwin Canyon westward until reaching JMT. Follow JMT south until Muir Pass, then follow directions above. To reach North Lake trailhead (9200 ft), take North Lake road from hwy 168 a mile before reaching Lake Sabrina.
The approach from South Lake
crosses the Sierra Crest at Bishop Pass, then descends Dusy Basin until meeting the JMT. Follow JMT north until reaching Muir Pass, then follow directions above for the Sabrina Lake approach. This approach has no cross-country travel until Muir Pass. To reach South Lake trailhead (9600 ft), take South Lake road from hwy 168 west of Bishop and proceed to the end.
The approach from Florence Lake
does not cross the Sierra Crest. Simply follow JMT/PCT from Florence Lake for 30 miles to Muir Pass, then follow directions above for the Sabrina Lake approach. To reach Florence Lake trailhead (7350 ft), take hwy 168 (no connection to hwy 168 near Bishop) from Fresno/Clovis area to Huntington Lake, take poorly paved Kaiser Pass Road to Mono Hot Springs, then take a branch road signed for Florence Lake.
A wilderness permit is required for overnight stays in the John Muir Wilderness in Inyo or Sierra National Forests or Kings Canyon National Park. You only need to obtain a wilderness permit for your entry point. For example, if you enter in Sierra National forest, you do not need to obtain an additional permit for Kings Canyon National Park. Thus, only one permit is needed per trip.
Although it is located in Kings Canyon National Park, most people enter through Sierra or Inyo National Forests. For entry through Inyo National Forest
, wilderness permits may be obtained at the White Mountain Ranger Station, located in Bishop, California. Permits can also be reserved in advance, which is recommended since many trailheads are subject to use quotas. Permits may be reserved for a fee of $5/person. Information on Inyo National Forest permit reservations
is available online or call (760) 876-6200.
For entry through Sierra National Forest
, wilderness permits may be obtained at the High Sierra Ranger Station, located in Prather, California. Permits can also be reserved in advance, which is recommended since many trailheads are subject to use quotas. Permits may be reserved for a fee of $5/person. Information on Sierra National Forest permit reservations
is available online or call (559) 297-0706.
When To Climb
Typically the season is June through Sept. The peak can be climbed in any season.
All Forest Service lands are open to camping unless otherwise posted. Check with the Ranger Station for a map that shows what areas are closed to camping. You will need to have a fire permit for all fires including stoves and charcoal grills (free at the ranger station). If you already have a fire permit, check with local authorities for current fire restrictions.
Inyo National Forest Wilderness Permit Reservations
Reservation Line** 760-873-2483
Wilderness Permit Office FAX 760-873-2484
Wilderness Information 760-873-2485
Inyo National Forest
Wilderness Permit Office
873 North Main Street
Bishop, CA 93514
Wilderness Information from Ranger Stations/Visitor Centers
Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center 760-647-3044
Mammoh Lakes Visitor Center 760-924-5500
White Mountain Ranger Station 760-873-2500
Mt. Whitney Ranger Station 760-876-6200