July 3, 2020
7.8 miles, +3,400’
For my sixth outing during our Fourth of July week in Mammoth, Shannon told me she thought she could sneak away for an afternoon (she had been working for most of the week). So I set off to research SPS peaks that we could probably summit in an afternoon. Mount Dana would be an obvious choice, but we had already climbed it. Dunderberg Peak in the Hoover Wilderness is also a contender. But Mount Conness fit the bill as well, and as one of the most impressive peaks in the northern half of Yosemite, it seemed like a worthy objective. We planned to climb the “From Sawmill Campground” route.
So we set off just after noon to drive up Tioga Pass. Despite the relatively late hour and the holiday weekend, we found a parking space easily along Saddlebag Road and wandered off into the forest at about 2PM, the ideal time to start a big mountain adventure - oh, how nice it is to live in California!
Views of Mount Conness and the west ridge from a meadow along Lee Vining Creek.
After following the trail for a mile and a half or so, we set off up the steep brushy slope to Alpine Lake. There wasn’t a particularly good way up this slope, but we found the terrain west of the brushy creek coming down from Alpine Lake to be a bit easier.
Views south to Mount Dana and Green Treble Lake.
Lovely scenery at Alpine Lake.
Continuing up towards the notch, we passed a few parties descending. The going was easy enough, we skirted snowfields and occasional rocks as we ascended.
View of the West Ridge (and Mount Warren!) from the notch where we climbed some class 3 rocks to gain the summit plateau.
Shannon scrambling up to the summit plateau. We made a mental note of this spot for the way down.
Looking north over the Conness Lakes and some other lakes in the Twenty Lakes Basin.
The summit block of Mount Conness. It looks a little bit tricky from far away!
Shannon scrambling across a catwalk en route to the summit. There was a short section that was class 3, but beyond that there were actually some constructed steps up to the summit.
View north over the Conness Glacier, Conness Lakes, and all the way down to Lundy Canyon.
From the summit, we had a wonderful view of Tuolumne Meadows, the Cathedral Range, and even Half Dome!
A wider shot, including the Clark Range and Mount Lyell.
To the north was Sheep Peak and Roosevelt Lake and Stanton Pass and Matterhorn Peak behind.
Closer shot of Mount Lyell, Mount Maclure, Mount Ritter, and Banner Peak.
The northern Conness Lakes are a lovely milky blue, fed by sediment from the Conness Glacier.
View of the summit block again from the way down. The route to the summit follows the narrow ledge at center across to the summit block and then ascends easy terrain for the final fifty feet or so.
We found the notch without too much difficulty, though we did accidentally overshoot it. The late afternoon light on the West Ridge cast some cool shadows.
South again to Mount Dana, Mount Gibbs, and Parker Peak.
Looking back up at the climb to the notch to access the summit plateau. It wasn’t really too difficult, maybe class 3 towards the top.
Late afternoon light over Alpine Lake.
We made our way back down from Alpine Lake and along the trail back to the car, arriving just as the sun set. We hoped to pick up dinner at the Whoa Nellie Deli, but were a little bit too late, so we headed back to Mammoth to prepare for the next day’s adventure.