Mt. Ansel Adams is a beautiful peak located at the head of the Lyell Fork of the Merced River in southeastern Yosemite, on the border between the national park and the peak's namesake wilderness. The peak is named for the famous photographer and conservationist
, who first saw and photographed the peak in 1921, describing it as "undoubtedly inaccessible".
The peak was subsequently climbed for the first time in 1934 by Glen Dawson, Jack Riegelhuth, and Neil Ruge, who proposed the name Mount Ansel Adams. Two days later, they led a Sierra Club High Trip party of fifteen up to the peak, including Adams and his wife Virginia. On the summit, they dedicated the peak to Adams.
The name remained unofficial until after Adams' death, since the USGS does not permit naming features for living individuals. It became official in December 1984:
The Lyell Fork of the Merced River with its high, remote peaks and sapphire necklace of lakes was among Adams’ favorite areas in Yosemite. In 1934, he led a Sierra Club outing to the Lyell Fork and the group climbed the then unnamed peak Adams called the Tower in Lyell Fork. Around the campfire that evening, the group agreed that the peak should bear Adams‘ name. However, the U.S. Geological Survey does not permit naming features for living individuals, so the peak did not officially become Mt. Ansel Adams until 1985, a year and one day after his death. (The Ansel Adams Gallery).
The peak is class 3 by its easiest route.
Mt. Ansel Adams is relatively remote, and there is no really easy way to get there. Even the quickest approaches seem to require something like 35-40 miles round trip.
The shortest approach (both mileage and time-wise) is probably out of the Isberg Pass trailhead
, using much the same approach as that for Foerster Peak
. The quickest option crosses the Long Mountain-Isberg Peak ridge from the vicinity of Isberg Lakes, dropping down past Harriet Lake and passing by Foerster Peak. The peak can also be reached from further north on the trail, from the vicinity of Foerster Creek, but this is several miles longer.
The approach via Foerster Creek can also be made from the Fernandez Trailhead, which crosses over Post Peak Pass to join up with the Isberg Pass trail near the national park boundary.
Because of its central location, the peak can also be reached by approaches out of Tuolumne Meadows or even Yosemite Valley, with parties typically camping in the vicinity of the Lyell Fork of the Merced River. The peak is particularly striking from this vantage point.
Red Tape, Conditions, etc.
The usual wilderness red tape applies; a permit is required for overnight visitors, and campfires are prohibited above 10,000 feet. Due to overuse, camping is prohibited within the immediate vicinity of several of the lakes along the Isberg Pass, including Cora Lakes and Sadler Lake; please obey the posted regulations at these lakes.
Permits are obtained through Sierra National Forest
for an approach via Isberg Pass (the permit can be picked up in Oakhurst or the Clover Meadow Ranger Station), Yosemite
for an approach out of Tuolumne Meadows, or Inyo National Forest
for an approach out of Devils Postpile.
For more information on red tape and conditions, please refer to the Tuolumne Meadows
and Eastern Sierra
When To Climb
Like other peaks in the vicinity, because of road closures and its remoteness, Mt. Ansel Adams is most often climbed in the summer months, typically June through October in most years.
Several reports are found on climber.org
Bob Burd's trip report