Ascent of Mount Conness on 2013-06-29

Climber: Patrick Bergeron

Others in Party:Ze/Joe
Date:Saturday, June 29, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Conness
    Elevation:12590 ft / 3837 m

Ascent Trip Report

FYI the mileage/elevation gain listed here are slightly higher than a standard trip: I did a more mileage/elevation than was necessary because the group got separated a couple times.

I went into a Mt. Conness trip as a bit of an afterthought, not really thinking much of it aside from it being just another Yosemite/Sierra peak. But wow, I absolutely loved it. Ze/Joe made a phenomenal choice for this midrange day hike out of Tuolumne, much better than Dana or the other popular ones. It has great views, exciting exposure, some glissading options, and the last 300-400ft of exposed scrambling was a blast! Some betas consider it a Class 3 trip. I’d consider it more of a Class 2 with significant exposure; for example, on the left and right may be a 40-200ft drop off, but ahead of you you’ve got a good 1-3ft wide line of boulders to scramble on. I dunno. It was enough to make me take deliberate steps/holds but not enough to trigger panic.

Large group of 20 of us had trickled, a handful at a time, into a group camp site in Tuolumne Meadows through the evening and into Friday night. We had all come from the Bay Area and endured hours of traffic. The last car arrived at 1am, at which point we hit the sack, thankful to be in our tents and away from the swarming mosquitos.

Of those 20, 7 of us packed into cars Saturday morning and headed towards Saddlebag Lake and Mount Conness. We parked on the west shoulder of Saddlebag Road/Forest Road 1n01, 1.6mi from 120. Our route would take us past the Sawmill Campground westward until we found a good contour to follow up to (and past) Alpine Lake to the ridge between Conness and its east buttress.

The mosquitos in the area were horrendous, vicious, and undeterred by mosquito repellant or double-layered shirts. Basically, every time we stopped for longer than 30 seconds, 4-8 mosquitos would land on each of my arms; while moving, the quantity would be reduced but always nonzero. I don’t even want to talk about how many bites covered my body by the end of the day. I hate mosquitos.

Excluding the mosquitos, the day was brilliant. Trail from Sawmill Campground was in shape up to 10200ft where we left it and proceeded up. Another 800ft of gain and we arrived at Alpine Lake (11030ft). Being a large group of 7 people, the rocky mixed terrain resulted in several separations during the day as people drifted off in one direction or another (myself included, as evidenced in the large westerly detour showing up on the GPS track on the ascent to Alpine Lake).

Alpine Lake had plenty of water - lots of snow still on the northwest slopes from the lake. Made our way up the gully on the north side of the lake. From there we crossed the occasional snow field and climbed the occasional boulder until we gained the ridge at 11812ft. Views of the Conness Glacier from the ridge were great. We had just enough room to walk the ridge. Basically just gradually make your way up the west ridge for a little ways until it’s obvious that you need to leave it and proceed more directly up. Next section between the ridge and Conness plateau is a steeper class 2 section of dirt/rock mix. Pretty straightforward navigation – generally go a little more to the right so that when you top out you don’t have to upclimb the snowy cornice.

The route from the plateau to the summit is where the fun really begins. It looks much harder/scarier than it is. Don’t fret. Just start heading up it, and you’ll see the obvious route that people take up to the top, and you’ll also see it’s very manageable even if you’re acrophobic. People have done a great job in organizing stone steps in places to act as a guide.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3840 ft / 1170 m
    Extra Gain:500 ft / 152 m
    Round-Trip Distance:10 mi / 16.1 km
    Route:Sawmill Trail; Conness East Buttress Ridge
    Trailhead:Sawmill Campground  9750 ft / 2971 m
    Grade/Class:Class 2-3
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time:3 Hours 51 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:4 Hours 
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Patrick Bergeron
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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