Tenaya Peak is the picturesque, slabby peak that towers over its namesake lake in Yosemite NP. The peak is most reknowned for some enjoyable technical climbs on its northwest face, but also offers some pleasant scrambling up its easier southern and western slopes.
In addition to the fine climbing, there are also superb panoramic views from the summit--because of its central location, perhaps some of the best in the park--taking in Half Dome and the Valley to the west, the Clark Range to the south, the Cathedral Range to the east, as well as the canyons and Sawtooth Range of northern Yosemite. This is a great peak for very little effort.
The most popular route on the peak may be the NW Buttress (5.5), an enjoyable climb up friction slabs.
A variety of non-technical routes may also be found. A class 2-3 scramble up the West Face leads from the parking lot east of Tenaya Lake up through meadows, slabs, and talus to meet the ridge; head east along the ridge to the summit. This is perhaps the easiest descent route also.
The southwest ridge may be followed from near Tenaya Lake; this features some class 3 slabs. The south side of the peak is class 1 from Mildred Lake; follow sandy slopes up to the summit. A use trail may be found in places here.
Tenaya Lake is located directly off Tioga Road, a couple of miles to the east of Olmstead Point and just a few miles west of Tuolumne Meadows. The peak is located immediately east-southeast of the lake.
Permits are not required for day hikes, but a wilderness permit is required for overnight visits. This can be obtained from any ranger station in the park. The nearest location is the permit building just east of the Tuolumne Meadows campground. It is just off the road that leads to the Tuolumne Lodge, on the right hand side. See the Tuolumne Meadows pages for additional red tape.
Due to the winter closure of Tioga Road, Tenaya Peak is most easily climbed between May and November. Expect to encounter snow if you venture out here early in the season; snow patches can linger on the NW Buttress through June or early July. These can be easily spotted from Tioga Road.
Backcountry campsites can be found at Mildred Lake. Camping can also be found in the Tuolumne Meadows backpacker's campground, located a few miles east of the peak, on the south side of Tioga Road.
The summit is just a couple of miles from the road, with only a couple of thousand feet elevation gain, so the peak is easily climbed in just a few hours. There's really no need to camp here. Instead, it makes a fine half-day climb (or less).
"Lafayette H. Bunnell of the Mariposa Battalion named the lake on May 22, 1851. 'Looking back to the lovely little lake, where we had been encamped during the night, and watching Ten-ie-ya as he ascended to our group, I suggested ... that we name the lake after the old chief, and call it "Lake Ten-ie-ya" ... At first, he seemed unable to comprehend our purpose, and pointing to the group of glistening peaks, near the head of the lake, said: "it already has a name; we call it Py-we-ack." Upon my telling him that we had named it Ten-ie-ya, because it was upon the shores of the lake that we had found his people, who would never return to it to live, his countenance fell and he at once left our group and joined his own family circle. His countenance as he left us indicated that he thought the naming of the lake no equivalent for the loss of his territory.' (Bunnell, Discover, 1880, 236-37.)"
- Peter Browning, Place Names of the Sierra Nevada