Photo above: Sunset at Lake Catherine

Now came the solemn, silent evening. Long, blue, spiky shadows crept out across the snow-fields, while a rosy glow, at first scarce discernible, gradually deepened and suffused every mountain-top, flushing the glaciers and the harsh crags above them. This was the alpenglow, to me one of the most impressive of all the terrestrial manifestations of God. At the touch of this divine light, the mountains seemed to kindle to a rapt, religious consciousness, and stood hushed and waiting like devout worshipers. Just before the alpenglow began to fade, two crimson clouds came streaming across the summit like wings of flame, rendering the sublime scene yet more impressive; then came darkness and the stars. -- John Muir, his description of the night before his climb of Mt. Ritter.

Agnew Meadow to Glacier Point, 1984

The highlight of this trip was our climb of Mt. Ritter. John Muir made the first ascent late in the season of 1872.

Immediately in front loomed the majestic mass of Mount Ritter, with glacier swooping down its face nearly to my feet, then curving westward and pouring its frozen flood into a dark blue lake. I began instinctively to scrutinize every notch and gorge and weathered buttress of the mountain, with reference to making the ascent. I succeeded in gaining the foot of the cliff on the eastern extremity of the glacier, and discovered the mouth of a narrow avalanche gully. Its general course is oblique to the plane of the mountain-face, and the metamorphic slates of which it is built are cut by cleavage planes in such a way that they weather off in angular blocks, giving rise to irregular steps that greatly facilitate climbing. The situation was becoming gradually more perilous, but, having passed several dangerous spots, I dared not think of descending. At length, I found myself at the foot of a sheer drop in the bed of the avalanche channel, which seemed to bar all further progress. The tried dangers beneath seemed even greater than that of the cliff in front; therefore, after scanning its face again, I commenced to scale it, picking my holds with intense caution. After gaining a point about half-way to the top, I was brought to a dead stop, with arms outspread, clinging close to the face of the rock, unable to move hand or foot either up or down. My doom appeared fixed. I must fall. When this final danger flashed upon me, I became nerve-shaken for the first time since setting foot on the mountain, and my mind seemed to fill with stifling smoke. But the terrible eclipse lasted only a moment, when life burst forth again with preternatural clearness. I seemed suddenly to become possessed of a new sense. The other self - the ghost of by-gone experiences, Instinct, or Guardian Angel - call it what you will - came forward and assumed control. Then my trembling muscles became firm again, every rift and flaw was seen as through a microscope, and my limbs moved with a positiveness and precision with which I seemed to have nothing at all to do. Had I been borne aloft upon wings, my deliverance could not have been more complete. Above this memorable spot, the face of the mountain is still more savagely hacked and torn. But the strange influx of strength I had received seemed inexhaustible. I found a way without effort, and soon stood upon the topmost crag in the blessed light. John Muir

While our route up the mountain was approximately the same, we did not experience the problem that John did, as we had the benefit of the knowledge of those that came before.

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Master Map for Trip

OPEN MAP This large scale map will open in a new tab in your browser. Our route is marked with a red line. More detailed maps are available for each slide.

Day 1 to Thousand Island Lake

Mt. Ritter and Banner Peak. View from the east.
Mt. Ritter and Banner Peak. View from the east
Mt. Ritter and Banner Peak. View from the east

Day 2 to Lake Catherine

Thousand Island Lake
Camp at Lake Catherine
Lake Catherine
Saddle between Lake Catherine and Thousand Island Lake
Sunset at Lake Catherine
Sunset at Lake Catherine

Day 3 climb Mt. Ritter and Banner Peak

Lake Catherine, view from summit of Mt. Ritter
View southeast from summit of Mt. Ritter
View east from summit of Mt. Ritter
Banner Peak, view from summit of Mt. Ritter
Decending Mt. Ritter
Descending Mt. Ritter, Gerald La Favre
Descending Mt. Ritter,
Banner Peak and saddle between Banner and Ritter
Banner Peak, view from saddle
Thousand Island Lake, view from Banner Peak
Mt. Ritter, view from Banner Peak
View southeast from summit of Banner Peak
Mt. Ritter, view from Banner Peak

Day 4 down drainage of Lake Catherine to North Fork of San Joaquin to Bench Canyon, up Bench Canyon and over pass south of Foerster Peak, to Foerster Creek.

Saddle between Banner Peak and Mt. Ritter, view from Lake Catherine
Creek below Lake Catherine
Creek below Lake Catherine
Creek below Lake Catherine
Mt. Ritter, view from Bench Canyon
View down Bench Canyon
Blue Lake at head of Bench Canyon. View from pass south of Foerster Peak, 1984.
Sunset at camp on Foerster Creek
Sunset at camp on Foerster Creek
Sunset at camp on Foerster Creek
Sunset at camp on Foerster Creek
Sunset at camp on Foerster Creek

Day 5 drop to Triple Fork of Merced River then up trail towards Red Peak, camp in basin to the east of Red Peak

Camp at east base of Red Peak
View from camp at east base of Red Peak

Day 6 Climb Red Peak, then head to Glacier Point via Illilouette Creek trail.

Sunrise at camp at east base of Red Peak
Sunrise at camp at east base of Red Peak
Red Peak at sunrise, view from camp at east base of peak
Climbing Red Peak, view east, Mt. Ritter, Banner Peak and the Minerets
Climbing Red Peak
View northwest from summit of Red Peak
View southeast from summit of Red Peak
Descending south side of Red Peak Pass. Merced Peak and Upper Ottoway Lake.
Lower Ottoway Lake
Lower Ottoway Lake, Merced Peak
View near Lower Ottoway Lake
Mount Starr King, view from Illilouette Creek
Half Dome?, view from Illiloutte Creek
Half Dome, Nevada Fall and Vernal Fall, view near Glacier Point
Half Dome, view from trail head at Glacier Point
Red Peak and Nevada Fall, view from Glacier Point
Jeff and Adrienne La Favre, Glacier Point

After the backpack trip, visit Giant Forest.

Adrienne La Favre, standing in front of a Giant Sequoia
"General Lee" Giant Sequoia
Giant Sequoia
Giant Sequoia

 

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last update May 31, 2020