Photo above: view south from summit of Mt. Clarence King.

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Onion Valley to Mt. Clarence King and return 1981

We (Jeff, Gerald and Mark La Favre) climbed Mt. Clarence King in the summer of 1981. As I (Jeff) write this in 2020, the memory of the exact route we used 39 years ago is a bit uncertain. My uncle (Gerald) had climbed the mountain before and he was in the lead, selecting the route up the final rocks. I don't remember climbing a squeeze chimney and I think we probably used Starr's Variation to gain the summit block.

Here is description of the route we used in the book The High Sierra: Peaks, Passes, and Trails second edition by R.J. Secor. "South Face. I, 5.4. First ascent August 1896 by Bolton Brown. From either Gardiner Basin [our location] or Sixty Lake Basin, climb to the saddle on the south ridge of the peak. ... Climb talus and sand from the saddle to the highest rocks, which are near the eastern cliff. A jam crack and squeeze chimney (located just right of a guillotine flake of rock) are climbed to gain access to the final summit block. The summit block is climbed via a crack on its eastern slide, and then by standing on the edge of a subsidiary block before making the delicate move onto the highest rock. Alternatively, you can climb the southern face of the summit block (with the aid of a shoulderstand or it goes free at 5.7) before making the delicate move. Starr's Variation: First ascent July 27, 1929 by Walter A. Starr, Jr.. There is a prominent overhang around the corner to the right of the jam crack and squeeze chimney. Climb up a very small hole under the overhang to the summit block. This hole is in line with the summit of Mount Clarence King, Mount Cotter, and Mount Stanford."

I believe on the previous climb, my uncle's party was unable to climb the summit block. Thus, there was the desire to do this in our climb. The register was located on top of the summit block and I really wanted to sign in. We each took a turn trying to climb the crack on summit block I believe. I don't remember the details of results. In any case, I did manage to climb the crack but could not manage the "delicate move" required to gain the summit. I did not have rock shoes, just heavy hiking boots. And I was very low in energy. Even if I was fresh, it is unlikely I could have made the "delicate move." So, as others have done, I coiled up our rope and attempted to throw it over the top block. After several attempts I managed to get it over. Gerald pulled the slack out from other side of top block and held the rope. Then I used the rope as assistance to do the "delicate move." Others have done the move without assistance of a rope, but my climbing skills were not up to the task.

Here is a video of another party climbing the final block, similar to our method https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FldJ60ccp5w

And another video of solo climb https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_CgFqwIQvo

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Master Map for Trip

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Onion Valley to Bullfrog Lake

University Peak, view from Kearsarge Pass Trail
University Peak, view from Kearsarge Pass Trail
Deadwood on Kearsarge Pass
Kearsarge Pinnacles and Kearsarge Lakes

Over Gardiner Pass to lake on north side

Meadow between Charlotte and Bullfrog Lake
On the way to Gardiner Pass)
Pine needles and male cones
On the way to Gardiner Pass, looking back to the southeast, East Vidette in center
Fox Tail pine, Mount Bago in background, on the way to Gardiner Pass
Pine needles
Penstimon?
Shooting Star (Dodecatheon sp.)
View southeast as we approach Gardiner Pass from the south
View south, near Gardiner Pass (on south side), Mt. Brewer (center)
Starting our descent off north side of Gardiner Pass
Gardiner Pass

Up Gardiner Creek to Lower Gardiner Lake

Looking back at Gardiner Pass, view from valley north of the pass
Lake north of Gardiner Pass
Gardiner Pass (right), view from valley on north side of pass
Lake north of Gardiner Pass
Gardiner Creek
Mt. Clarence King, view from Gardiner Creek
Gardiner Creek, just below Gardiner Basin
Near Gardiner Basin
Mt. Clarence King, near Gardiner Basin
Mt. Clarence King, near Gardiner Basin, 1981. Route for climb marked in red.

Climb Mt. Clarence King

Lower Gardiner Lake
Lower Gardiner Lake
Climbing Mt. Clarence King
Summit of Mt. Clarence King
Mt. Gardiner and Mr. Brewer. View from summit of Mt. Clarence King.
Mt. Cotter, Mt. Stanford, Mt. Ericsson, view from summit of Mt. Clarence King,
Mt. Cotter, Mt. Stanford, Mt. Ericsson, view from summit of Mt. Clarence King

Layover day at Lower Gardiner Lake

Camp at lower Gardiner Lake
Lower Gardiner Lake
Lower Gardiner Lake
Full moon rising camp on lower Gardiner Lake
Sunset at camp on lower Gardiner Lake
Sunset at camp on lower Gardiner Lake
Sunset at camp on lower Gardiner Lake

Back to John Muir Trail at Rae Lakes and over Glen Pass to Bullfrog Lake

Lake at elevation of 3304 meters, Sixty Lake Basin
Lake at approx. 3260 meters elevation in Sixty Lakes Basin
Mt. Clarence King, view from Sixty Lake Basin
Lake at 3353 meters elevation in Sixty Lake Basin
Mt. Clarence King, Sixty Lake Basin below. Photo taken on Sixty Lake Basin Trail, just south of Fin Dome.
Mt. Cotter (left) and Mt. Clarence King (right), Sixty Lake Basin below
Lake about 3410 meters elevation, due south of Fin Dome. Dragon Peak in background
Dragon Peak, Rae Lakes. View from Sixty Lakes Basin Trail.
Looking north from south end of Middle Rae Lake
Painted Lady, upper Rae Lake
Painted Lady, upper Rae Lake
Painted Lady, upper Rae Lake
Fin Dome, view from location between middle and upper Rae Lakes
Fin Dome, view from south end of Middle Rae Lake
View north, ascending to Glen Pass, Rae Lakes on far right
View north on ascent to Glen Pass. Mt. Clarence King and Mt. Cotter on left.
North slope below Glen Pass
Decending down off south side of Glen Pass

Over Kearsarge Pass to Onion Valley

Kearsarge Pinnacles
End of Kearsarge Pinnacles ridge, Mt. Brewer in background
Kearsarge Pinnacles, Kearsarge Lakes
Kearsarge Pinnacles, view near Kearsarge Pass, Mt. Brewer in background
View south from Kearsarge Pass, University Peak in background, Big Pothole Lake
Mark, Gerald and Jeff La Favre, Kearsarge Pass
Flower Lake, University Peak in background
Little Pothole Lake, University Peak in background

 

last update May 27, 2020