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