Mount Ritter/Banner Peak - North FaceDate:
This renowned duo is the centerpiece of the Ansel Adams Wilderness near Yosemite National park. We set out from the Rush Creek Trailhead by Silver Lake (along the June Lake road). This approach begins 1,000 feet lower than the normal Agnew Meadows start, but gains the elevation quickly through several miles of switchbacks along the Clark Lakes trail. We departed at 5:10 am and within 2 hours we were up high along the ridge gazing at Ritter and Banner. At Clark Lakes, I began a loop that would basically take me around Banner Peak - Thousand Island Lake to Lake Catherine to Ritter/Banner Saddle to Nydiver Lakes to Garnet Lake. I was back at the car at 5:25 pm for 12 hour and 15 minute day.
Reflection from Clark Lakes
A long walk around Thousand Island Lake (much longer than you think initially!) brought us to the foot of Banner Peak.
We continued on up to North Glacier Pass. At this point my partner felt the altitude and decided to forgo continuing the route. I set off for Ritter-Banner saddle.
I was making good time until I found out I lost a water bottle and spent 30 minutes looking for it - to no avail. Once I let the water bottle go I was back on track, ascending the North Face of Ritter via the right hand chute to the summit - arriving just after 11 am.
The Minarets from Mount Ritter.
Banner Peak from Mount Ritter.
I enjoyed the glorious views and then returned to Ritter/Banner saddle to climb Banner Peak. The views from Banner were equally impressive and I spent about 30 minutes on the summit, departing at 12:45 pm.
From left to right: 1000 Island Lake, Garnet Lake, Nydiver Lakes, Lake Ediza.
I went back to the saddle and then glissaded down from the saddle toward Lake Ediza, but turning off on the higher slopes heading for the Nydiver Lakes. I traversed just above the lakes to a pass that leads to the basin above Garnet Lakes. This section was spectacular with sweet views to the Minarets.
Ritter (left) and Banner (right)
Descending from the pass to Garnet Lake was easy, but the walk around Garnet's shores was long and more tedious than I had imagined with ups and downs and various obstacles (unlike Thousand Island Lake which has very flat shores). The swarming mosquitoes in this area were not pleasant either and while the DEET kept the bites at bay, I swallowed more than a couple suckers! Nonetheless, the views from Garnet were well worth the effort.
From the outlet of Garnet Lake, I took the trail down to the River Trail and then headed up to Agnew Pass. Once atop the pass, gravity helped me with the remaining 5.5 miles to the trailhead, arriving at 5:25 pm. Clouds Rest:
After some rest and food, we set off to hike Clouds Rest from Tenaya Lake for early morning light. Although a little chilly/windy on the summit, the gaze down toward Yosemite Valley was awe inspiring.
We were back at the car by 9:30 am, just early enough to beat the Sunday afternoon traffic. Gear Notes:
Ice axe needed, crampons optionalApproach Notes:
Mosquitoes are out!!!