West Ridge

Page Type
California, United States, North America
Route Type:
Hiking, Scrambling
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Time Required:
A long day
Rock Difficulty:
Class 3

Route Quality: 3 Votes

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Created On: Jul 8, 2005
Last Edited On: Feb 22, 2006


Hike along the Ottoway Lakes trail to where it crosses the Clark Fork of Illilouette Creek, and gain the gentle ridge immediately south of the creek that divides that stream (and higher up, Gray Creek) from Red Creek. The Ottoway Lakes trail can be reached out of the Mono Meadow trailhead, Happy Isles, or the Merced Pass area.

If approaching the Clark Fork crossing from the north, you'll find a good log crossing a short way east of the trail to avoid getting your feet wet. Hike east up the broad, forested ridge through easy cross-country terrain. The ridge gradually turns southeast, before angling northeast and emerging above treeline. Although forested, navigation is straightforward; just keep in between the drainages to the north and south and you'll eventually end up in the right place. Note that the 15' maps are in error around here in their depiction of some of the drainages; the newer 7.5' should be used instead. Stats for the cross-country portion of the hike to the summit from the Clark Fork crossing are roughly 10 miles, 4500' gain roundtrip.

Route Description

A few hundred feet below the summit, the ridge grows blockier and the climbing more interesting. From this point, follow the crest of the blocky ridge to the summit, with only very minor detours necessary to the right to negotiate one or two of the more serious obstacles. The route-finding is straightforward, and there is some surprisingly exposed and delicate scrambling in a couple of places. Watch out for loose rock, particularly a number of the otherwise appealing chickenheads.

A note on the rating: Secor describes the ridge as "easy class 3," and some accounts suggest that in summer it's possible to escape off the ridge to class 2 terrain 50 feet below at at a number of places. In spring, when keeping religiously to the crest to avoid postholing in the surrounding snow, the ridge felt more like easy class 4. It is short but surprisingly enjoyable.

Essential Gear

None required. A spring climb (May 2005) required snowshoes for the upper portions of the approach, but the terrain is gentle enough along the ridge that axe/crampons aren't necessary unless you plan to descend the steeper northwest slopes of the peak.

West Ridge

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