Iron Mountain is the southernmost named peak of the Ritter Range. It is an SPS peak. It offers several hiking and scrambling route, and a route from Ashley Lake involving a snowfield and the use of ice axe / crampons, if one is so inclined. The views North from the top, toward the Minarets, Mount Ritter and Banner Peak, are spectacular. To the West are the peaks of Southern Yosemite, to the South one can see Balloon Dome and to the East, Mammoth Mountain.
Iron Mountain is not a difficult peak to climb by any of its established routes, nor is it a very tall peak, but a visit to the southern end of the Ritter Range is well-worth it, both for the views from the summit and for the spectacular terrain you will cover getting there.
From the Devil's Postpile Ranger station, hike up the Fern Lake trail. This is a very good trail, not too steep or hard. The crux of the approach is crossing King Creek, which is most easily done by removing your shoes (or not) and wading through. There are several options from here. The longest approach, leading to the easiest route up the mountain, is to continue on along the Mammoth Trail to Corral Meadow. It is also possible to gain a ridge leading to the summit from Fern Lake (about 5 miles from the trailhead). Alternatively go up to Anona Lake or Ashley Lake, for other routes as described below.
There are several routes up Iron Mountain:
1) Hike up to Corral Meadow and hike up the grassy benches to its North, until you reach the summit. Class 1.
2) From Fern Lake or Anona Lake, gain the ridge that delineates the Anona Lake glacial cirque. Proceed clockwise toward the summit of Peak 3,288, which can be climbed from a notch along the ridge on its Eastern aspect, or, depending on snow conditions, bypassed to the North or to the South. Proceed on 0.8 miles along the ridge toward the summit of Iron Mountain, bypassing the remaining gendarmes on the left (Southwest). This is probably the easiest option if you are dayhiking the peak. Class 2.
3) From Ashley Lake hike Southwest and climb an obvious snow gully (ice axe and crampons helpful or necessary, depending on conditions), that deposits you a short distance Southeast of the summit. Proceed from there to the top on class 1 terrain. Class 2.
There are other options described in Secor's book.
A wilderness permit
will be necessary if you plan an overnight stay in the Ansel Adams wilderness. Also, note that the road leading to Devil's Postpile
is closed, for much of the year, between 7 am and 7 pm. Between these hours it is necessary to take the shuttle bus from the Mammoth Mountain ski area. By car, there is a $10 entry fee, which you will be asked to pay if you exit the area between 7 am and 7 pm.
When to Climb
Anytime, depending on your inclination. In the winter, the approach from Mammoth Ski area on cross-country skis will of course be much longer.
There are good campsite options at Fern Lake, Anona Lake, Corral Meadow and many points inbetween. A wilderness permit will be necessary, see above.
External LinksBob Burd's Iron Mountain trip report