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Photo above: Camp at Lower Gardiner Lake, our base for climbing Mt. Clarence King.



Jeff La Favre High Sierra trips

Location and Date


Distance covered
(hiking only)

Elevation gain
(hiking & climbing)

Kings Canyon to Mt. Whitney and return
9 days 104 miles 18,600 feet
Giant Forest to Mineral King
8 days 41 miles 13,100 feet
Onion Valley to South Lake
8 days 64 miles 16,000 feet
South Lake to North Lake
9 days 44 miles 14,300 feet
Onion Valley to Mt. Clarence King and return
7 days 35 miles 11,200 feet
Agnew Meadow to Glacier Point
6 days 52 miles 12,600 feet
South Lake to North Lake
7 days 41 miles 14,100 feet



Mountains Climbed by Jeff La Favre


Elevation (feet)

Date climbed

Mt Whitney - technically not a climb - all by trail 14,495 1970
Peak adjacent to Eagle Scout Peak 12,040 7/6/75
Mt. Kaweah 13,802 7/8/75
Split Mountain 14,058 1977



Mt. Goddard 13,568 8/24/79
Mt. Darwin 13,830 8/26/79
Mt. Clarence King 12,905 1981
Mt. Ritter 13,157 1984
Banner Peak 12,945 1984
Red Peak 11,699 1984
Mt. Sill 14,162 1985
Mt. Darwin (second climb) 13,830 1985



Zumwalt Meadows (Kings Canyon) to Mt. Whitney and return, 1970
Day 1 to Sphinx Creek on Bubbs Creek

Day 2 up Sphinx Creek, over Avalanche Pass and descend to Scaffold Meadows on the Roaring River.

Day 3 up Cloud Canyon, camp at Colby Lake

Day 4 over Colby Pass and descend to Junction Meadow on the Kern River.

Day 5 up Wallace Creek, then south on John Muir Trail to Crabtree Meadow

Day 6 climb Mt. Whitney, all by trail, return to Crabtree Meadow

Day 7 north on John Muir Trail to Tyndall Creek

Day 8 over Forester pass and descend to Golden Bear Creek

Day 9 descend Bubbs Creek and return to Zumwalt Meadows.


This was my first High Sierra trip. My brother, Vic, accompanied me on the long journey. Our equipment was primitive compared to today's standards; no gas stove or pack tent. We were fortunate to have clear weather, possessing only plastic tube tents for rain. The most memorable camp was at Colby Lake, where we enjoyed a beautiful sunset. The last day was 15.8 miles with 5,465 feet of elevation drop. We reached Zumwalt Meadows at midday but at a price; my knee went out half way down the trail. In the years to come I would have more trouble with the same knee, especially on the last day of the 1979 trip, jumping between boulders in Darwin Canyon.



Crescent Meadow (Giant Forest) to Mineral King, July 4 - 11, 1975
July 4 to Bearpaw Meadow

July 5 to camp below Precipice Lake

July 6 over Kaweah Gap, climb peak adjacent to Eagle Scout Peak, camp on Big Arroyo

July 7 to Chagoopa Plateau

July 8 climb Mt. Kaweah, camp on Chagoopa Plateau

July 9 to Lost Canyon

July 10 to Columbine Lake

July 11 over Sawtooth Pass to Mineral King


The peak adjacent to Eagle Scout Peak was the first mountain I climbed without the advantage of a trail. Our approach from the east was a class 2 route.

Our first camp on the Chagoopa plateau was one of the few nights I did not enjoy in the High Sierra. The mosquito population was particularly strong there. We did not have a tent on this trip but were fortunate to have hats with mosquito netting. We had to zip up our down bags and wear the mosquito netting. I remember being very warm in the bag because I could not open it up. I did not get much sleep that night, with the insects buzzing around my head. In the morning we had a quick breakfast and left with haste for the summit of Mt. Kaweah.

We climbed the southern slope, which is easy technically. At the summit we opened the register box and looked through the notebook. Some of the first entries dated back to the 1920's and I recognized names of noted early explorers (unfortunately I can't remember the names for sure now but I think one was Colby). This was a high point of the trip for me, realizing that we had explored a corner of the High Sierra that was truly off the beaten path.

For this trip we used two cars because the starting and ending points were not the same. We drove first to the trail head at Mineral King to drop one car off. Then on to Giant Forest together in the other car. At the end of the trip we retrieved the car at Giant Forest. We used the same technique on some of the other trips.



Onion Valley to South Lake, 1977
Day 1 over Kearsarge Pass, descend past Bullfrog Lake

Day 2 north on John Muir Trail to Glen Pass, descend to Rae Lakes, then on to camp somewhere on Woods Creek

Day 3 up north fork of Woods Creek to Twin Lakes

Day 4 over Pinchot Pass, making camp on South Fork of Kings River due to heavy and continued rain, spent 24 hours in tent (3 men in my 2 man tent!).

Day 5 continue north on Muir Trail to lake on west side of Split Mountain

Day 6 Climb Split Mountain, then over Mather Pass to camp just above Palisade Lakes. On this day we ran into a hail storm. We were headed for the lake but the weather looked like it was going to go bad so we stopped. Just as we got the tent up, it started to hail like crazy with lots of thunder and lightening. The hail made a tremendous racket as it pelted the tent. In a matter of minutes it was over but the ground was white. What an exhilarating experience!

Day 7 continue north on Muir trail to Bishop Pass trail, then up Bishop Pass trail to Dusy basin

Day 8 over Bishop Pass and descend to trail head at South Lake.


This was my second trip with Gerald and Mark La Favre.

We climbed Split Mountain from the saddle between Prater and Split, a class 2 route. This was the easiest 14,000 plus mountain I have climbed. The experience on top was special due to the weather that day. The cloud cover was moderate, which added to the atmosphere at the summit.

As I recall, we had also planned to climb Mt. Sill on this trip but scrapped the plan due to delays caused by the weather. Nevertheless, it was a memorable trip. I think one's total Sierra experience is enhanced by different weather conditions .



South Lake to North Lake, August 19 - 27, 1979
Aug. 19 over Bishop Pass to Dusy Basin

Aug. 20 to a camp in Le Conte Canyon or just above it at lake 10,800

Aug. 21 to Muir Pass then cross country to lake north of Scylla in Ionian Basin

Aug. 22 this was a rest day.

Aug. 23 climb Scylla

Aug. 24 climb Mt. Goddard

Aug. 25 go around west and north sides of Mt. Goddard then back to Muir Trail, and descend to lake southwest of Mt. Darwin

Aug. 26 climb Mt. Darwin

Aug. 27 up through Darwin Canyon, over Lamarck Col and descend to North Lake


Another trip with Gerald and Mark La Favre. I think on this trip we used only one car and Mark, the cross-country runner, drove the car to North Lake after dropping equipment and us off at South Lake. Then he ran back from North Lake to meet us at South Lake.

We climbed Scylla from our camp on the lake northwest of the summit, class 2.

We used a class 2 route to climb Mt. Goddard. From the Ionian Basin we gained the saddle east of the summit and then followed the ridge to the top. The views from the summit are impressive due to the location of the mountain.

We climbed Mt. Darwin from the west side using a class 3 route. This was the most challenging mountain I have climbed with respect to routefinding. As I recall, there are a series of three chutes above Evolution Lake. We entered the northernmost of these and made our way south higher on the mountain, traversing the other chutes on the way to the flat-top summit. The climb was the most enjoyable of all my climbs (I have climbed it twice).

Mt. Darwin is a strange mountain. All of its slopes are steep, with routes varying from class 3 to moderate class 5. But the summit is a large plateau. The final surprise is found after traversing the plateau to the southeast end, where a detached pinnacle marks the highest point. According to "The Climber's Guide to the High Sierra" by Steve Roper, 1976: ...."many who have come this far do not attempt it (the pinnacle) because of its considerable exposure." I did want to attain this highest point and did so, but was on belay with Uncle Gerald attending the rope as I recall. I don't remember if we all climbed it or not.

The day after the Darwin climb, we passed through Darwin Canyon on our approach to Lamarck Col. The canyon has several lakes and is strewn with many boulders. In order to make good time through the boulders, we jumped between the tops of the large rocks. After a while this took a toll on my knee, the one I had trouble with the first time in 1970. We rested for a while and I nursed that knee along as we climbed to Lamarck Col. Actually, I was not so worried about the ascent as I was the descent on the other side. I had to be very careful on the way down, using my leg muscles to soften the blow of each step. This was quite tiring. The last hour or two of the trip we had to use flashlights. I don't remember the time when we reached North Lake but it must have been past 10 PM.



Onion Valley to Mt. Clarence King and return, 1981

Day 1 start at Onion Valley and go over Kearsarge Pass to Bullfrog Lake

Day 2 over Gardiner Pass to lake on north side

Day 3 up Gardiner Creek to Lower Gardiner Lake

Day 4 climb Mt. Clarence King

Day 5 layover day at Lower Gardiner Lake

Day 6 back to John Muir Trail at Rae Lakes and over Glen Pass to Bullfrog Lake

Day 7 over Kearsarge Pass to Onion Valley


The highlight of this trip was the climb of Mt. Clarence King, the most challenging mountain I have climbed. We took the route from the saddle south of the summit. Here is the description of the route by Steve Roper, in "The Climber's Guide to the High Sierra".

"Regular Route (class) 5.4. The saddle just south of the summit of this classic-shaped peak can be reached very easily from the west, or with a bit more difficulty (class 2-3) from Sixty Lake Basin. From the saddle ascend steep talus and sand slopes to the final rocks. Stay very close to the east drop-off and work upward over class 4 cracks and ledges. The difficulties increase about 150 feet below the top. A tiny hole under a conspicuous overhanging block can be used, or a steep jamcrack (5.0) and squeeze chimney around the corner to the left can be climbed. Either route brings one to the monolithic summit boulders. A short 5.4 pitch on the south side leads to the register. Protection is not necessary - the configuration of the rock provides enough safety - and the climbing is not easy; many persons have been defeated."

It was late in the day when we reached the monolithic summit boulders. I tried to free climb to the top but in vain. I could put the tips of my fingers on the top surface of the highest rock but did not have the strength to pull myself up. I think Uncle Gerald and Mark also tried, but also without success. I wanted to reach the top in the worst way, so in desperation, I attempted to throw a rope over the top. After several tries, I managed to do this. I think Uncle Gerald held the rope from the other side while I used it to assist in gaining the top. Then I helped Uncle Gerald and Mark up. We reached the top some time around 5 PM.

We did not spend much time on the summit due to the late hour of the day. Descending the class 4 section at the top of the peak took time and we were using the rope for protection. We had to make the last section of our journey back to camp in the dark but we were off the mountain at this point. With a bit of luck, we managed to routefind in the dark and came out exactly where our tent was located!



Agnew Meadow to Glacier Point, 1984
Day 1 to Thousand Island Lake

Day 2 to Lake Catherine

Day 3 climb Mt. Ritter and Banner Peak

Day 4 cross country down drainage of Lake Catherine to Bench Canyon, then over pass south of Foerster Peak, (we camped on Foerster Creek).

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

Day 6 Climb Red Peak, then head to Glacier Point (above Yosemite Valley) via Illilouette Creek trail.


On this trip we traversed the High Sierra, starting from the east above Mammouth Lakes and traveling west to reach Yosemite Valley. Adrienne helped us with transportation, dropping us off at Agnew Meadow and then proceeding over Tioga Pass to Yosemite Valley, where she vacationed with my parents and Val's family. She was waiting for us at Glacier Point at the end of the trip. We stayed with our parents in their trailer after the hike and visited the Giant Sequoia trees.

We climbed Mt. Ritter via a class 3 route from the Ritter-Banner saddle, which we approached from our camp on Lake Catherine. After spending some time enjoying the scenery at the summit, we descended to the saddle and then climbed Banner Peak.

The next day we continued on our cross country route to Foerster Creek (total distance from Thousand Island Lake to Foerster Creek is about 14 miles). Due primarily to our route, we did not meet many hikers on our journey (I don't recall meeting anyone during the cross country section of the trip).

We climbed Red Peak from near the pass on the trail. It was fairly easy, a few short class 3 sections. On top there were nice views of the back of Half Dome in the distance (north west). Also good views to the east (Sierra crest).



South Lake to North Lake, 1985
Day 1 over Bishop Pass to Dusy Basin

Day 2 over Knapsack Pass to Barrett Lakes

Day 3 climb Mt. Sill, then return to Dusy Basin via Knapsack Pass

Day 4 descend Bishop Pass Trail to John Muir Trail, then up Muir Trail to Le Conte Canyon

Day 5 over Muir Pass and descend to Evolution Lake

Day 6 climb Mt. Darwin

Day 7 exit via Darwin Canyon, over Lamarck Col, then descend to North Lake


We climbed Mt. Sill from the southwest slope, a class 3 route. After gaining the saddle between Sill and North Palisade, we followed the ridge to the top.

We climbed Mt. Darwin via the same route as the 1979 trip. However, I don't think I climbed the summit pinnacle this time.

I took it easy going through Darwin Canyon this time and did not have any trouble with my knee.