Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 36.65560°N / 118.3361°W
Additional Information Elevation: 14018 ft / 4273 m
Sign the Climber's Log


Mt. Tyndall sits right off of Shepherd's Pass, next to Mt. Williamson. The mountain was named for the English glaciologist and mountaineer John Tyndall. Most people try to climb both peaks together, as the approach via Sherpherd's Pass is one of the most difficult in California. Mt. Tyndall is an easy mountain to summit from Shepherd's Pass by either the Class 2, Northwest Ridge or the more direct route straight up from the 2nd lake at Shepherd's Pass (Class 2+). The summit affords excellent views.

Clarence King and Richard Cotter made the first ascent of Tyndall in 1864. They were working on the Whitney Survey at the time and sighted Tyndall's mass from the summit of Mount Brewer. They then set off on a five day expedition to conquer the summit. King recounted their attempt in , Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada. He stated, "If nature had intended to secure the summit from all assailants, she could not have planned her defenses better; for the smooth, granite wall which rose above the snow slope continued, apparently quite round the peak and we looked in great anxiety to see if there was not one place where it might be climbed."

Tyndall's East Face is similar to the East Face of Whitney. The first major route fell to Fred Beckey in 1970, when he and Charlie Raymond made the first ascent of the East Gully (III 5.8). In 1972, Mike Heath and Bill Sumner ascended the East Chimney (IV 5.8). Mount Tyndall is most often climbed by the Northwest Ridge route via Shepherd's Pass.

Getting There

Shepherd's Pass Trailhead - Highway 395 to Independence. Go West on Market Street (towards the Sierra Nevada). Market Street becomes Onion Valley Road once you leave Independence. After 4.4 miles, turn left (south) on Foothill Road. Road forks after about 1 mile, follow the right fork. You will see a sign saying "Shepherd's Pass Trailhead". After about 2 more miles, you reach another fork in the road - go right. Two more forks in the road are reached and you will go right at each one and you'll reach the trailhead for Shepherd's Pass.

Red Tape

Permits can be obtained from the Mt. Whitney Ranger Station. Permits are $5 per person. Whereas Mt. Williamson has restrictions on the times it can be climbed, due to it being in the Bighorn Sheep Reserve, Mt. Tyndall lies outside of the restricted area. No parking pass is required to park at the trailhead.

When To Climb

Due to the fact that Mt. Williamson cannot be climbed after July 15th, most people tend to climb Mt. Tyndall in late June and early July. By the middle of July, most of the snow is gone (obviously a heavy snow year would delay this a couple of weeks) and therefore if one wishes to climb with crampons and ice axe, I would recommend climbing in June.


The best place to camp is the 2nd lake at Shepherd's Pass, which is at the base of the most direct route to the summit of Mt. Tyndall. There is water at both of these lakes, although in the late summer there may not be.

Mountain Conditions

Peakware ( has additional information on Mt. Tyndall, including more pictures. For current conditions, call the Mt. Whitney Ranger Station (760) 876-6200.

External Links

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

Viewing: 1-9 of 9
Bob Burd

Bob Burd - Jul 3, 2004 12:16 am - Voted 10/10

Untitled Comment

The 2nd lake was looking quite dry in late June

That wasn't my impression. I was there the same day as you, and it looked the same as it has the other two times I've been up to Shepherd Pass. I think it is a year-round water source, and I agree that it is better than the second lake.


blmcclain - Jul 2, 2004 10:23 pm - Hasn't voted

Untitled Comment

Other places to camp on the approach hike in are at Mahogany Flat and Anvil Camp. Anvil seems to be especially nice because is about 2 miles from the top of the pass (2 miles in) and there are quite a few sites and a nice stream to get water from. Also, the first lake at the pass is generally prefered because it offers some protection from the wind and it's really unnecessary to gain the extra 200+' up to the next lake. The 2nd lake was looking quite dry in late June so I wouldn't count on it being a reliable source for water later in the year.

Bob Burd

Bob Burd - Jul 3, 2004 12:16 am - Voted 10/10

Untitled Comment

The 2nd lake was looking quite dry in late June

That wasn't my impression. I was there the same day as you, and it looked the same as it has the other two times I've been up to Shepherd Pass. I think it is a year-round water source, and I agree that it is better than the second lake.


innuksuk - Mar 16, 2007 6:05 pm - Hasn't voted

Pedantic but proud!!

Just a wee question on the name of that mountain. If it was named after the same John Tyndall, the scientist who's name was borrowed for our national scientifc research institute where I work (, then the guy was Irish, not English!! More details on him can be found here: Only bothered seeing as the name is very familiar to me :)


mapperpeak - May 4, 2020 6:46 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Pedantic but proud!! IRISH

Agreed. Can the description be changed to indicate that John Tyndall was IRISH, not English?


brichardsson - Jul 14, 2014 9:12 pm - Hasn't voted

trail washed out

A flash flood last summer (2013) washed out a section of the Shepherd Pass trail at approximately 10,000', just below Anvil Camp. It is necessary to hike approximately 100 feet upslope from the trail to cross near a large rockfall. There is a second washout a little higher as well, but is easily bypassed and is cairned.

bcrowell2 - Aug 8, 2016 7:44 pm - Hasn't voted

no more bighorn restrictions; trail work

There are no longer restrictions on when you can visit the area. The trail has been rebuilt to get around the big washout below Anvil Camp.

RAM - Apr 12, 2019 11:34 am - Hasn't voted

Tyndall Climb 4/10/2019

Attempted to climb Mt Tyndall on 4/10/2019 from Shepherds Pass Trailhead. We abandoned at 10,000 feet. We were the only ones at the trailhead for two days. Conditions: weather was clear with some 25-40 mph wind gusts. Deep snow starts at about 7300 ft., at about the 15th switchback, one hour in (there are about 55 switchbacks in the first phase of the mountain). The climbing grade was about 100-115%, which made the first part brutal. If you start early in the morning you can use crampons, but by 1 pm you're going to need snowshoes with a heel lift otherwise your feet will sink in to about your calves and thighs at times (very very frustrating). You will also need short trekking poles and actual snow boots (not waterproof hiking boots, snow boots). Where there are usually streams to replenish your water supply, there are none after 10000 ft (not that we saw), which means you have to melt snow for water. The grade was too aggressive and demanded more than we were willing to give for the first day and decided to call it at about 10,000 ft. We went elsewhere and climbed smaller peaks. What I learned: The importance of having a heel lift on proper snowshoes will make your life a lot easier. My calves were smoked after the first four hours of climbing straight up with a 45lb pack. Recommendation: Unless you have 4 days to give the climb and you're in extremely good physical condition I would recommend waiting until the snow melts to about Anvil Camp (maybe late May). It can definitely be done and it's absolutely beautiful up there, but I would leave this one to the more experienced.

DPatrick - Jul 31, 2020 2:06 pm - Hasn't voted

Irish, not English

John Tyndall was born and raised in Co Carlow, Ireland. He is not English.

Viewing: 1-9 of 9



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