The base of Junction peak is most commonly reached via the Shepherds Pass Trail off Highway 395. Take Highway 395 to Independence and turn West onto Market St/Onion Valley Rd. After several miles turn left onto Foothill Rd(good dirt). Follow Foothill Rd to the corral, bear left at the corral toward the hiker's parking lot. Once past the corral stay right and follow the signs to the Shepherds Pass Trailhead. From here follow the trail up into Shepherds Creek Canyon, past Anvil Camp and all the way to Shepherds Pass. The route description will take over from here.
Water is often scarce on the lower portion of the trail, between the 4th crossing of Symmes Creek and a small creek on Mt Keith's SE side there is no water. Be forewarned that the Shepherds Pass Trail climbs approximately 6000ft in 11 miles, just to the pass.
From Shepherds Pass leave the trail and head Northwest/West, contouring around Junctions Peak's SE ridge on the left. Do not climb up the broad ridge, as this will take you into class 4 and away from the South Face route. Drop into the basin South of Junction Peak
and follow the creek up the easy class 2 valley toward Junction Peak's South Face. Once you've reached Lake 3806m, the broad South Face route will be very evident as a wide sand/talus chute leading to a prominent notch in the ridge. Follow this chute up to the notch, the right side of the chute seemed to contain the most solid rock on the route(still class 2). Once at the notch
turn NW and follow the last bit of the SE ridge to Junction Peak's summit. You will pass over two false summits(as I recall) in route to the true summit at the far NW end of the ridge. This final section is the most technical, while it is only class 3, the exposure is truly breath taking(1000ft+)
. Simply reverse your route to return to the trailhead.
As a variation one can descend NE from the notch
and pick up the faint Junction Pass trail. This use trail rejoins the Shepherds Pass Trail at the Pothole. This route is not recommended for summer ascents, due to extremely loose terrain below the notch. In early season this variation may provide a nice shortcut when covered in snow.
No technical gear is needed during normal climbing months. In early season crampons and ice axe may be required to ascend to Shepherds Pass. This route can be climbed year round, though a winter ascent would be very committing and only for experienced mountaineers.
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