Getting Down From the North Ridge

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Trip Report
California, United States, North America
Date Climbed/Hiked:
Jun 20, 2004
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Created On: Jun 23, 2004
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Getting to and from Mount Conness can be confusing. Lots of trip reports and guidebooks menttion how tough it is to get down once you are on top. If you don't want detailed beta, stop here. Otherwise, hope these directions help...

On June 20th 2004, after climbing the North Ridge, my partner and I whipped out a copy of the SuperTopo and scoped out the way down. Our truck was at Saddlebag Lake, and we planned to descend via the standard East Ridge route. It took a bit of poking around to find the right way down, but I am glad that we took the time to carefully select the descent.

The first part is an easy walk down an east-facing sidewalk/staircase--a few hundred feet vertical and a couple hundred yards horizontal.

This puts you near the concrete-construction benchmark and several rock windwalls, which are on the west end of a vast summit plateau. From here, you have to go NORTH EAST--not East. Going east means that you will lose elevation and find yourself on a heinous spur to the south of the true East Ridge. The trails do not appear to go where you need to... don't use them. Stay high and to your left.

The best way to do this is to use the high ground as a handrail, moving north to the rim of the plateau, and following it for several hundred meters.

If conditions are clear, you eventually will be able to see the east ridge arcing away to the east, with a large forest in the valley on the right.

This spot is a good place to walk down the hill, to a relatively flat area that drains to the south east. Follow the main channel until you cliff out above a waterfall. From here, you can downclimb or move up and left (north east) for many hundreds of meters, until the cliffs around the waterfall have moderated to easy slabs. To your left will be a gentle ridge line, which if crossed, would take you to Greenstone Lake. On your right and below are cliffs and gullies. To your immediate front, you will see a shallow swale, which eventually rises to the east several hundred feet. Continue moving east south east , gently downhill, toward the valley to the south. I recommend continuing until you come to the last draw (has a small stream flowing down it) before the ridge rises again to the east. Easily follow the gully right (south) down to the forest floor, strike off SSE, and after 5 or 10 minutes, you will be on the trail going to the Carnegie Institute and the Saddlebag Lake Road. Pass the Carnegie Institute, and then the Saddlebag Lake outlet creek. Instead of following the trail out, keep going north east, through the woods several hundred yards (and several hundred feet elevation gain) and you will come to the road near the Saddlebag Lake parking area.

To reverse this and climb the East Ridge, remember to start studying the ridge to the north after you pass the Carnegie Institute. You will soon see a significant break in the cliffs. Leave the trail here and strike out to the north. Find your way up to the ridge, and then move left (west), passing the cliffy pinnacles on the crest of the ridge to the south. You will soon find yourself in the bowl beneath and east-facing slope. On the left will be the rocky Southeast Ridge. There are several ways up to the summit plateau, but the simplest and quickest is to climb the class 2 snow and blocks near the northern side of the ridge. This puts you on the summit plateau, and WSW is the prominent summit of Mount Conness. From there, it is a "walk" to the summit.


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