Ascent of Mono Pass Peak on 2016-07-31

Climber: Nathan Leroy

Date:Sunday, July 31, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mono Pass Peak
    Elevation:12760 ft / 3889 m

Ascent Trip Report

It was quite a beautiful day in the Sierras, with just a few clouds and warm temperatures. Our goal for today was to tag an obscure peak around Mono Pass, going by the uncreative name of Mono Pass Peak. It bears over 200 feet of prominence and offers great views of the much higher Ruby Wall and (I believe) the Pioneer Basin and the Recesses. It's actually much easier than the higher and more popular Mount Starr across the pass, being almost 300 feet shorter, but it's still a tedious scree slog up to the top. Unfortunately, while on top, I had no views due to cloud coverage, but just below the peak I had a good view of Mount Humphreys and the Abbot/BCS group.
Upon reaching the trailhead, to our horror, we found that all the parking was taken. We would end up going over a mile before the trailhead to find parking. At the actual trailhead, we continued up without further ado towards Little Lakes Valley, continuing up through the valley alongside pristine creeks and forests. At the John Muir Wilderness entrance, I found a small benchmark labeled "Pat". A nice and unexpected find.

We rested for a bit before we merged onto the trail going up towards Ruby Lake. The trail crossed a small meadow and started to switchback up the south face of Mount Starr. Views began to open up towards the valley before the trail gained a flat and mule poop began to fill the trail. The trail countered along the side of the mountain before getting to a very picturesque little tarn framed by a great view of Bear Creek Spire.

Continuing along the trail, we reached a small lake just before Ruby Lake. Here, there was a junction. The left fork went to Ruby Lake, and the right fork went to Mono Pass. We went to Ruby Lake first, despite the oncoming clouds rolling in. We hung around at the lake for a bit before it started to rain and then hail. We hunkered at a tree before receiving advice from a local who said it was safe to continue. It was about 50 degrees up a the mountains, and I was wearing only shorts and a t-shirt. I was getting colder by the minute.

The hike up Mono Pass was pretty uneventful, although it did provide awesome views of Lookout Peak and Ruby Lake. The trail continued along the side of the mountain, eventually coming to Mono Pass, which was a large flat area roughly the size of a football field.

Everyone else decided to call it a day and descend a bit as the temperature was about 42 degrees. I had to summit the peak, so I started trudging up the peak, wrapped in a thin towel. I went up the class 2 scree, sliding back 1 step every 2 steps. I eventually went off to the side of the mountain on slightly more solid talus. About halfway up I was engulfed in clouds and as I reached the summit I only had time to snap a photo of Mount Humphreys before taking off at full sprint down the scree towards Mono Pass.

I ran back down the trail, meeting up with the rest of my group halfway down the trail. It was much warmer down the trail and the sun came out halfway down the trail. We descended back and then arrived on the trailhead, where we got a member of our group to run back and get the car while everyone else relaxed in the creek.
Summary Total Data
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble

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