Eichorn, second highest of the minarets, is situated on the main Minarets ridgeline running southeast to northwest. It is positioned between Clyde Minaret, Rice Minaret and Michael Minaret. Although Eichorn Minaret is not very "minaret-like" in nature, it is the highpoint along the ridge just west from Clyde Minaret (12,255 ft). The minaret is named in honor for one of moutaineering's true pioneer of the day, Jules Eichorn (1912-2000). Jules Eichorn, along with other notable figures throughout the early days of Sierra Nevada climbing history (Glen Dawson, Bestor Robinson, Norman Clyde, to name a few), were of the first to employ the first roped belay standards, accomplished many stiff mountaineering feats of the day, and set the standard for today's climbing ethics and ratings. Eichorn was also part of a search party in 1933, which was deployed to look for a fellow mountaineer, Walter Starr Jr.. Starr's body would be later found upon the NW Face of Michael Minaret, after he failed to return from an attempted ascent of the NW Face of Michael Minaret, Eichorn Minaret's neighbor to the southwest. The Minarets in general are rich in Sierra Nevada history and boast of many wild and bold climbs. One of the things unique to The Minarets, is its volcanic geologic nature. Most of the rock is angular volcanic composite and tends to be solidly fractured and sharp. In general, the rock is darker than most Sierra Nevada formations and the same is true upon Eichorn Minaret.
Several challenging routes lead up to the summit of Eichorn, including Amphitheater Chute (loose 5th class) from the south, Michael Chute (5th class), Eichorn Chute (4th class), both coming in from the west, and the traverse from the summit of Clyde Minaret (4th) via the Rock Route. Most of these routes require a roped belay and assiduous climbing skills. Due to the nature of the rock, cool heads and climbing helmets are a MUST!
Two trailheads exist for access, Agnew Meadows and Devil's Postpile TH's. Total distance one way for each is about eight miles distance to the Minarets areas.
Agnew Meadows TH
is probably the more enjoyable approach of the two. From this TH, follow it down past the San Joaquin River and back up to Shadow Lake. Take the Shadow Lake Trail up to Ediza Lake. The views of Mount Ritter and Banner Peak from Shadow Lake are truly picturesque and have been some of the most sought out images for photographers and adventures alike. From the west end of Ediza Lake, follow a faint use trail leading southwest to Iceberg Lake. From Iceberg Lake, circumnavigate its eastern shoreline and up a seemingly fainter trail, up broken talus to Cecile Lake. From here, the approach to the Rock Route (4th Class) upon Clyde Minaret provides one of the routes to Eichorn's summit along the Minaret ridgeline. Alternatively, one can continue past Ediza Lake to either The Gap (3rd) or North Notch (loose 3rd) to access the western side of the Minaret Range. Once on the western side, skirt the base of a large talus field (a few small lakes lower....best chance to get last minute water) and locate the last large minaret formation to the west (Michael Minaret). One can either climb Eichorn Chute (4th class) or Michael Minaret (5th). Both join at a small buttress with a large cairn on top. One can then traverse to the northeast (some exposed 3rd and 4th class with loose rock!) and head to the summit proper.
Devil's Postpile TH
is the other trailhead that leads to the Minaret area. From the ranger station near Red's Meadow, follow the trail across the San Joaquin River, head north for a few miles passing old growth forests. Pick up the Minarets Trail and follow it west to Minaret Lake. On summer days, this trail is often hot and the sandy slog up to Cecil Lake from Minaret Lake makes it less enjoyable. Once at the southern end of Cecile Lake, one can go up to South Notch (most consistant snow years may require the use of ice axes and crampons). Cross over the notch and head northwest, behind Clyde Minaret, passing Amphitheater Lake on its northeastern shoreline. Looking northwest, one will see one of the more defined and striking minarets, Michael Minaret. Just below its eastern flanks is a large chute, blocked by two large chockstones. This is Amphitheater Chute (I, 5.6). Climb this chute to a gap between Michael and the joining Minaret ridgeline. From the gap, gain the ridgeline and head northeast to the summit via 3rd/4th class blocks and ledge systems.
State Route 203, west of the Minaret Summit has travel restrictions due to the narrow one-lane road and is limited in parking availability. Travel by car, in and out of the area, is unrestricted before 7:00AM and after 7:30PM. In the hours between, it is required that you take the shuttle bus which leaves every 30 minutes from the Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort parking lot. If, for example, you want to hike the loop starting at Agnew Meadows and return to Devils Postpile, you can ride the shuttle for free, back to Agnew Meadows. If you drive your vehicle into the area, you are free to exit anytime of day, but you will be subject to the $7 per-person charge if you haven't previously paid the fee and the entrance station is manned.
National Parks Pass and USFS Adventure Passes are not valid here. The fee is used to pay for the use of the shuttle bus.
Bear canisters are required for this areas as bears are active. Please follow the NF restrictions. As far as locations to camp go, there are a few restricted locations in between and also around Shadow Lake and Ediza Lake due to heavy stock use. All camp sites should be situated at least 100' from ALL water sources. Camp fires are permitted, however, a separate fire permit must be carried by the party. There are a few good sites at Iceberg Lake, just off the trail. Camping around and Cecil Lake is limited due to the rocky terrain. Campfires are permitted in this area, however, the source of firewood (ie deadfall) is pretty much nonexistant.