East Face

Page Type
California, United States, North America
Route Type:
Mountaineering, Scrambling
Summer, Fall
Time Required:
Most of a day
Rock Difficulty:
Class 3

Route Quality: 2 Votes

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East Face
Created On: Aug 29, 2007
Last Edited On: Aug 29, 2007


Mt. Stanford's East Face is an excellent class 3 scramble, offering fairly sustained scrambling at that grade for most of the ascent. Although some route descriptions (including Secor's) make confusing reference to a chute on the peak's East Face--there appears to be nothing recognizable as a chute on the face, and moreover the face is arguably better called the Southeast Face--the entire face appears to be climbable, and there are almost certainly dozens of ways to go.

Getting There

From Onion Valley, follow the Robinson Lake trail to its end, and hike cross country up to University Pass (3840m+, 0.6mi SE of University Peak). This pass is the saddle immediately west of Peak 3926. (Note that this picture mislabels the University Pass Shortcut Variation used to climb University Peak as University Pass; the correct pass is the broad saddle to the left in the photo.) In early season, axe/crampons are generally needed to gain the pass; in late season, it melts out to an unpleasant sand/scree slope. The south side of the pass is really loose scree and talus.

Once down in Center Basin, head southwest past Center Peak to gain the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Hike south along the PCT for about a mile, to where it turns sharply east. Leave the trail here, and head cross-country first south then southwest past Lake 3560m+, 1mi ENE of Mt. Stanford. Continue over snow and talus to the moraine east of Gregory's Monument.

An alternative to University Pass, which is easier but substantially longer, is to follow the Kearsarge Pass trail down to Vidette Meadow. The PCT can be followed south from here to meet up with the approach described above.

Route Description

As alluded to above, there are many ways to go on this face, as seen in this photo, and a precise route description is both impossible to give, and fortunately unnecessary. In general, the left side of the face is steeper, while the right side appears to be easier.

The bottom portion of the face consists of class 2 ledges, and is reminiscent of the loose junk on Mendel's East Face. Higher, the climbing improves, and becomes fairly sustained class 3 up a succession of ledges, ramps, slabs, cracks, and small chutes. Continue heading up and gradually angling left. You will eventually end up on the summit ridge between Gregory's Monument and Mt. Stanford. The summit is an easy scramble from here.

Essential Gear

Ice axe/crampons may be necessary to reach the base of the route in early season.