SW slopes

Page Type
California, United States, North America
Route Type:
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Time Required:
Less than two hours
Class 2

Route Quality: 1 Votes

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SW slopes
Created On: Jul 7, 2006
Last Edited On: Jul 7, 2006

Getting There

Sawmill LakeSawmill Lake, 1.5 miles below Sawmill Pass.
The climb begins from upper Woods Lake Basin. The most common way to get to Woods Lake Basin is via the Sawmill Pass Trail. The Sawmill Pass Trail starts in the Owens Valley, at 4640', and ascends almost 7000' over 9.5 miles to beautiful Sawmill Pass (11,350'). The trail is a grunt, to say the least. However, most grumpiness will be From there you descend along the trail into the Woods Lake Basin.

For driving directions to the Sawmill Pass Trail, see: http://www.climber.org/DrivingDirections/sawmill.html

The alternate way into the Woods Lake Basin is via the John Muir Trail, either north or south. The Woods Lake Basin is to the east, between Pinchot Pass on the north, and Rae Lakes Basin on the south.

Route Description

Southwest Slope Map
Once in the Woods Lake Basin, you want to depart the trail somewhere near where it pops out of the woods on the east side of the basin. Head north toward the two lakes, and bisect them (note: in early season, it may actually be one lake). Head up to the next lip with a small tarn behind it, and fill up on water (this is the last water you'll see). Then head directly towards the steep scree/talus cliffs to your east from this tarn-- this will put you on a higher level bench, which you can traverse to the north on.
Chockstone Chute entranceThe Chockstone Chute entrance, behind the large shining block, where the arrow is pointing.

As you traverse north, you will see chutes ascending through the cliff bands above. There are any number of chutes you can take through the cliffs above you. Wingding has pictures of one way here, however she's said that it's pretty loose.

Another way is via a Chockstone Chute. This involves some nice class 2 on solid ground, with some optional fun class 3 on very solid rock. Traverse further north along the base of the cliffs, and head for the chute as seen here:

Head up towards the entrance. If care is taken, it's easy to stay on the larger talus blocks and avoid the horrid scree and sand. Once behind the large shining block, you will have the following view up the chute:
Chockstone ChuteLooking up the Chockstone Chute (the chockstone can be clearly seen).

Head up to the chockstone. You have two options: either climb directly over it using some class 4 holds on the left wall of the chute, or tunnel underneath the chock, and wriggle your way up behind it. This is a fun little wriggle, but care must be taken that one is using solid rock for handholds, and not small blocks that have become stuck next to the chock.

Beyond the ChockstoneLooking up chute beyond the chockstone.

It is easy going from here. Head up the gully, ascending mixed talus and scree, using the walls on either side as handrails (and sometimes for good foot placements as well). You can either continue all the way up to the summit plateau in the loose gully, or you can exit to the left on solid class 3 steps and blocks. If you chose this option, gain the crest of the ridge to the north of the gully, and follow it on easy class 3 rock to the summit plateau.

Once on the summit plateau, hike along to the highpoint. The higher summit is not the one with the benchmark on the map, but the west summit. The views are outstanding.

For descent, one can either go down the way one came, or head down the west ridge of the plateau to the Colosseum/Cedric Wright saddle (all class 1), which then has easy cross-country travel back to Woods Lake.

There is also a nice class 3 ridge traverse from the Colosseum/Cedric Wright saddle to Mt. Cedric Wright.

Note: Time Required is from the Woods Lake Basin. From Sawmill Pass it is either one REALLY long day, or multiple days.

SW slopes

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