Mount Abbot is the central peak in the Abbot Group of Sierra Nevada peaks, six of which have elevations of 13400-13800 ft. It sits on the Sierra crestline flanked by Mount Mills on the northwest, Bear Creek Spire and Mount Dade on the southeast, its southwest side connects with Mount Gabb on the Mono Divide, its northeast side faces bulky Mount Morgan. This region features dramatic vertical relief of steep walls and buttresses surrounding the high summits, offering challenging rock, snow, and ice climbing.
Mount Abbot itself is not the hardest peak in the area, with its NE couloir route rated class 3. Climber must first overcome a 1000 foot high snow couloir (no bergschrund) with average slope of 40 degrees before reaching class 3 rock. Depending on snow/ice conditions, ice axe and/or crampons may be required.
Petit Griffon: a double-summitted spire on the northwest ridge of Mount Abbot, directly above the couloir separating it from Mount Mills. It features challenging technical rock climbing routes.
The trailhead is at Mosquito Flat, at the end of Rock Creek Road which branches from Highway 395 between Mammoth Lakes and Bishop. Rock Creek Road is about 15 miles from Mammoth Lakes, paved all the way to Mosquito Flat for about 12 miles. Mosquito Flat is the highest trailhead in Sierra Nevada with an elevation of 10300 ft. This offers short, easy approach to a multitude of high peaks. The shortest route from Mosquito Flat to the summit of Abbot is approx. 4.6 miles, elevation difference is 3400 feet.
For hikers looking for solitude and ease of permit acquisition during popular summer weekends, go to the Pine Creek trailhead (elevation 7000 feet), at the end of Pine Creek Road which branches off Hwy 395 a few miles south. Follow trail to Morgan Pass, which leads into the Rock Creek drainage from the south. Caution: although the length of approach is only about 5 miles longer, you will have to overcome 3000 feet extra of elevation gain, due to Pine Creek's low trailhead. The steep-walled Pine Creek canyon is very avalanche-prone in winter.
Backcountry camping requires a free permit in the John Muir Wilderness, which encompasses the entire area. No campfires are allowed. Permits can be obtained at the National Forest ranger station in Bishop on Main Street (US-395), or the ranger station in Mammoth Lakes on Highway 203 east of town. Since the permits are on a quota system in summer, it can be difficult to get on popular summer weekends. Advance reservation of wilderness permits is a good idea (fee charged).
Rock Creek Road is closed for winter season from October to May.
When To Climb
Summer offers the best weather for climbing, from June to September. In late summer (July - September) the snow couloir may become icy and thus more challenging. Winter ascent is possible if climber access the trailhead with cross-country skis, because Rock Creek Road will be closed. Nearby Rock Creek Lake resort offers cross-country skiing services and accomodations in winter.
Backcountry camping requires a free permit (see Red Tape section) in the John Muir Wilderness, which encompasses the entire area. No campfires are allowed. Campers are advised to use bear boxes to store food in order to deter black bears. Roadside camping is generally prohibited except in the 11 fee campgrounds along Rock Creek Road. Commercial lodging can be found at the Rock Creek Lake resort just 1 mile from Mosquito Flat trailhead, or in the town of Toms Place (closest), Bishop, or Mammoth Lakes.