This is a relatively high and isolated mountain which commands an excellent view. The mountain was named by John Muir after writer Ralph Waldo Emerson! Mount Emerson is found between Piute Pass and Mount Humphreys. Its granite is in sharp contrast to the reddish rock of the Piute Crags.
Several excellent climbs are found on Mount Emerson including -
The North Face, a 1000' ice gully ( one of the 100 Classics of the High Sierra ).
The Southeast Face, an excellent class 5.4 rock climb. Very popular.
The West Ridge - class 3 from Piute Pass.
The South Face - class 3.
From Bishop, take Hwy 168 west. For all climbs except the North Face ice gully, continue on Hwy 168 to the trail heads at North Lake. The Piute Pass trail ( permit required for overnight camping ) is the approach for the West Ridge ( class 3 ), South Slope ( class 3 ), Southeast face ( II, 5.4 ) and the Southeast Ridge ( class 3 ).
For the North Face ice gully, turn right on Dutch Johns Meadow road ( behind the abandoned wilderness permit kiosk, about 10 miles from Bishop ) and follow the rough, worn dirt road about 6.2 mile to a fork ( turn left ) followed by another left . 4 x 4 vehicles recommended. Right before the end of the road, park at a large standpipe next to a scenic drop off. Contour from here via cross country hiking to the south and into the Birch Creek drainage, south of Peak 13,121' ( Checkered Demon ). Allow several hours for the North Face approach.
Wilderness permits are required for overnight camping. There is a wilderness permit quota in effect from May 1st to November 1st. 60% of the wilderness permit quota is advance reservation ( $5.00 per person ) and 40% is available on a walk in first come first serve basis ( free ). See the Inyo National Forest website at http://www.r5.fs.fed.us/inyo/ for the most current information.
Inyo National Forest - Wilderness Permit Office - 873 North Main Street, Bishop, CA 93514
Reservation Line - 760 - 873 - 2483
Wilderness Permit Fax Line 760 - 873 - 2484
Wilderness Information - 760 - 873 - 2485
The North Face area may not need a wilderness permit and quotas may not be in effect. Contact the Inyo National Forest for more information.
The best time to climb Mount Emerson is June - September.
Maps needed for this area are the Mount Tom, Mount Darwin and Tungsten Hills 7.5 minute USGS topographic maps.
Please see the following guide books - The High Sierra - Peaks, Passes and Trails by R. J. Secor and Sierra Classics - 100 Best Climbs in the High Sierra, by John Moynier and Claude Fiddler for information.