The Checkered Demon ( Peak 13,121' ) is an interesting mountain one mile southeast of Mount Humphreys that has two ice gullys on its North Face. A bit obscure, it is none the less an excellent ice climb when conditions are good, and an interesting looking mountain too! The left hand gully is fairly low angle ( 35 - 40 degrees ) and about 800' high. The right hand couloir is also 800' but far more spectacular -with an angle of up to 60 degrees in spots! The maximum ice climbing fun is to climb the right hand gully and down climb the easy left hand couloir. I don't believe this climb is done very often, for those that don't like crowds! Originally the right hand couloir climb was called The Checkered Demon. Now the entire mountain is known as the Checkered Demon!
The peak can also be climbed from Humphreys Basin via its Western side ( class 2 - 3 ), and the South Ridge is also class 2 - 3. The Southeast Slope is class 2.
From the town of Bishop on Hwy 395, head west on scenic Hwy. 168. After approximately 10 miles, turn right on Dutch Johns Meadow road ( behind the old drive thru wilderness information kiosk ) and follow this rough road ( 4 x 4 or high clearance vehicle recomended ) for about 6.2 miles. You are passing thru the beautiful Buttermilk Country! Go left at a fork then head up to the McGee Creek trailhead ( 4 x 4 needed for the last part ). Cross country hike south to the South Fork of McGee Creek and follow this upstream to a barren camp below the North face of the Checkered Demon and the huge moraine below the Southeast Face of Mount Humphreys.
To climb this mountain from Humphreys Basin via the Western side or South Ridge, take Hwy 168 from Bishop to the Piute Pass trail head at North Lake. Follow the trail over Piute Pass and head north into Humphreys Basin ( wilderness permit required ).
The Southeast Slope can be climbed from the drainage between this peak and Mount Emerson. Cross country hiking is required.
Wilderness permits may or may not be required for over night camping in the McGee Creek drainage. See the Inyo National Forest website at http://www.r5.fs.fed.us/inyo/ for more information. I have been told in the past that a permit was not required!
To climb this mountain from Humphreys Basin a wilderness permit is required for overnight camping. There is a wilderness permit quota in effect from May 1st to November 1st. 60% of the wilderness permit quota is advance reservation ( $5.00 per person ) and 40% is available on a walk in first come first serve basis ( free ). See the Inyo National Forest website at http://www.r5.fs.fed.us/inyo/ for the most current information.
Inyo National Forest - Wilderness Permit Office - 873 North Main Street, Bishop, CA 93514
Reservation Line - 760 - 873 - 2483
Wilderness Permit Fax Line 760 - 873 - 2484
Wilderness Information - 760 - 873 - 2485
When To Climb
The best time to climb is probably July - October ( will vary due to seasonal snow fall ). In very dry years there might not be any ice to climb!
There is treeless camping below the north side ice climbs on glacial sand. Wilderness permits may or may not be required for over night camping in this drainage. See the Inyo National Forest website at http://www.r5.fs.fed.us/inyo/ for more information.
There are numerous camping spots in Humphreys Basin on this mountains west side. A wilderness permit is required - see the red tape section above.
For general conditions and weather, see the Inyo national Forest website at http://www.r5.fs.fed.us/inyo/ . Also, www.395.com has good information regarding the area and local hotel accomodations
Maps needed for this area are the Mount Tom, Mount Darwin and Tungsten Hills 7.5 minute USGS topographic maps. Please see the following guide books - The High Sierra - Peaks, Passes and Trails by R. J. Secor for more information.