From Graveyard Lakes

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 37.45140°N / 118.99°W
Additional Information Route Type: Scrambling
Seasons Season: Summer, Fall
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: Class 3
Sign the Climber's Log


Follow the directions on the main page to the uppermost of the Graveyard Lakes (Lake 10,440+), which are nestled in a small rocky cirque east of the peak.

Route Description

There are two basic options from Graveyard Lakes: Head up to the peak's northeast ridge, or climb the lower south summit (Peak 11,494', erroneously labeled as Graveyard Peak on the 7.5') and traverse the summit ridge to the higher north peak.

Summit ridge traverse (class 3-4)

From Lake 10,440+, 0.3mi east of Graveyard Peak, head southwest up class 2 ledges, talus, and slabs (easy and unexciting--but at least it's solid footing and not a slog) to the obvious south end of the ridge seen to the southwest. If you climb directly up to the south summit (Peak 11,494), the last 50-100ft are class 3, and fairly enjoyable. (It is probably possible to keep this all class 2 by angling further south).

From Peak 11,494, you have a good view of the summit ridge, and the highpoint less than 200 yards to the north. The route here is almost trivial to describe: Follow the ridge north. The climbing is most enjoyable by keeping religiously to the ridge crest until shortly before the summit. A short, steep face blocks further progress along the ridge here--it would be class 5 if surmounted directly--but it is easily bypassed by dropping down a very short way on the left (west) side and regaining the ridge again. Continue to the base of the summit block, which is climbed via steep flakes (class 3) on its south and then east side.

Most of this ridge is exposed class 3, with a few short class 4 sections and perhaps one easy 5th class move if keeping strictly to the ridge crest. Although the ridge looks intimidating at first, the passage is surprisingly easy, with excellent rock throughout--and somewhat remarkably, every block or tower that's climbable on its south side is also easily downclimbed on the other. It is never necessary to drop down more than a few feet on the west side to bypass any obstacles, and even this is required in only one or two places close to the summit.

Variation: If uncomfortable with any of the moves along the ridge, it appears easy to bail off in numerous places to easier ground to the west. In fact, some trip reports suggest it's possible to drop down on the west side of the ridge, perhaps 100ft below the crest, and keep this all class 2 until a final class 3 chute is climbed up to the summit block. But this would be a distinct mistake. The ridge is a classic knife edge.

Northeast ridge (class 3)

From Lake 10,440+, this involves negotiating considerable sand to gain the ridge, and so is best used as a descent route. Anyway, in terms of an ascent... from the lake, contour west up to the ridge. If climbing the route, the best option is to head up the extensive slabs that lead towards the ridge. On a descent, sand slopes to the south of the slabs make for a quick run down. Above the slabs/sand slope, a use trail leads up to the ridge a couple of hundred feet below the summit.

Class 3 scrambling leads up through small cliffs, large talus, and ledges to the base of the summit block. Secor describes this as "easy class 3," but at least on a descent, a couple of moves seemed trickier and more like 4th class, albeit with little exposure.

The lower portion of the ridge can also be gained from the saddle between Anne Lake and Graveyard Lakes; this looks easier than the final portion below the summit.

Essential Gear

The summit ridge traverse follows the crest of the ridge over many flakes and small towers. There are ample opportunities for protection if one desires, but rope drag would likely be intolerable. The ridge is easy and is probably most enjoyable if climbed unroped. If uncomfortable with this, some may prefer to drop down to the class 2 variation described above.

The northeast ridge is easier and has substantially less exposure. Although--like the summit ridge--some have apparently turned back from this, it's easier than it perhaps looks from a distance, and a rope is unnecessary here.



Parents refers to a larger category under which an object falls. For example, theAconcagua mountain page has the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits' asparents and is a parent itself to many routes, photos, and Trip Reports.