Tuolumne County Highpoint Trip Report
Mount Lyell (13,114 ft)
Dates: August 4-6, 2007
Author: Ron Tagliapietra
Chad Thomas and I went to Mount Lyell. Based on the lateness and the lightness
of the snow season, we brought no crampons, ice axes, or ropes. We camped at
the first lake above the footbridge on the John Muir Trail and were a bit
nervous about challenging an Apex peak with so little gear. The next morning,
we hiked the trail to the second lake and then started cross country.
When we reached the Lyell Glacier, Chad, with his glacier expertise, guided us
safely across. He avoided the many veins of slick ice. He was a lot faster
than me but I followed his footprints. Near the top, the sun cups also helped
Now, I had to lead the rock climb and my hit and miss approach got us through.
I never recognized the flake described by others but we stayed low at the start.
For us, the crux was a 4-foot vertical stretch by a small buttress-type arch.
Remember the footholds for the way back. With your left foot as far up as possible,
put your right foot on a small ledge as big as the ball of your foot.
Your left foot will then reach a somewhat larger ledge well to your left.
From there, step on top with your right foot.
Just afterward, we faced a choice of going 1) left across an airy rock that
looked like it went into space or 2) right up a series of large ledges that
looked like they would reach the summit plateau. The ledges dead-ended in
20-foot vertical cliffs, forcing our only major backtrack. We backtracked to the
airy rock, which opened onto a short airy stretch. Chad checked the trip
reports before crossing and they seemed to confirm that we should go left.
Afterward, we reached slabs, easier to the right, but you can go up various ways
At the end of the summit plateau we had a much easier scramble to the CoHP and
National Park hp. The summit rock was big enough for one person to sit on but
we both settled for touching it. We had summited! It was CA cohp #30 for me
and #49 for Chad. It was wonderful! We signed the register and Chad pointed
out many of the visible peaks. Mount Ritter called to us from the south.
Descending, I led the rock and Chad led the glacier and it worked like a dream.
The next morning we hiked out in about 5 hours, including a half an hour of
rinsing off in the river along the John Muir Trail.