This route climbs two peaks on the SPS list:
Stats: 17 miles (4-5 miles off-trail), 4,000' vertical, 11.5 hours. I was tired and moving slowly the last few hours; if you’re strong you could shave hours off of this time.
Note that there are two trailheads out of Big Meadow to Manter Meadow; the southern trailhead is preferable because (1) it involves 300-400 feet less climbing, with no additional distance; and (2) it allows you to pick up Taylor Dome on the return.
We car-camped at the south Manter Trailhead, but there are better campsites at the trailhead to Sirretta Mountain, about two miles north, with multiple flat spots next to flowing water.
As you approach Manter Meadow, the trail splits – at this point you want to take the right fork toward Manter Creek. The left fork takes you to the west side of Manter Meadow, and you’ll then have to cut across the meadow – which was boggy even in October of a dry year (2012).
From the west side of Manter meadow you follow Manter creek to Little Manter Meadow. Just west of Little Manter, a creek joins from the left, then Manter Creek turns to the south-west. At this point the trail pretty much vanishes and you’re left to find your own way cross-country – leave Manter Creek and keep heading west, up a small unnamed creek to a saddle south of Rockhouse. From this saddle, looking north you’ll see a small dome – head uphill, to the left of the dome.
You’ll soon see the south face of Rockhouse Peak -- the easiest route up the summit block is from the opposite side – you can hike around the peak from either side, but the right (west) side seemed shorter.
The south side of Rockhouse -- these are class 5 routes, as described on the main page for Rockhouse Peak:
The easiest route we could find was a class 2 gully in the north face, which will lead you to the ridgetop maybe 50 feet west of the summit:
The last 50 feet is easy class 3 with exposure – plenty of handholds and friction granite, but a fall from here would be bad news. Rockhouse is listed as class 2 – I would vote to change that to 2S3 (class 2 with a class 3 summit block -- and the approach is all class 1 until you get to the northside gully).
Summit view looking south-west, toward Taylor Dome. The trail starts on the other side of the saddle north of Taylor, and passes through Manter then Little Manter meadows.
Rockhouse is not a frequently-visited peak. As of October 6 of 2012, only one person had signed the register before us that year.
On the return trip, you can pick up Taylor Dome if you’re willing to add 1,000’ vertical and a mile or two horizontal. From the saddle north of Taylor, head south, staying to the east side of the ridge leading to the summit. There is an old pack trail here that leads almost all the way to the summit, with plenty of rockwork – however the trail has been obliterated in places by dirt slides, or blocked by brush and fallen trees – we were able to follow this trail only intermittently:
Taylor Dome has a class 3 summit block which is reputed to have the least exposure when approaching from the north – I got this far and felt too uncomfortable to go any further; my brother said it was easy:
View of Rockhouse from near Taylor Dome:
West face of Taylor Dome:
From Taylor Dome you can either head north back to rejoin the trail at the saddle, or strike west to catch the trail from Taylor Meadow to Big Meadow.