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Home/2006 photos/Mount Lyell [34]

climbing the highest peak in Yosemite Jimmy and I head out on what has become an annual tradition of hiking around the Sierra in search of summits. This year the destination was Mount Lyell. We started off from the Tuolomne trailhead of the Pacific Crest and John Muir Trails. Needless to say, this part of the trail gets a lot of use but it cuts through the Lyell Canyon which is gorgeous. The Lyell Fork of the Tuolomne River meanders through the canyon at a lazy pace as the first several miles are pretty flat. At the end of the canyon the climbing begins though and climb it does. We spent a few hours gaining quite a bit of elevation until finally we found a good spot to camp just below Donohue Pass. As we set up our tent some weather blew in but it soon passed leaving us with a pleasant evening relaxing after a long day of hiking and climbing. The next morning we set off, not too early, for the summit. We climbed across granite, leading to the Lyell Glacier. The glacier itself was pretty reasonable, though at these altitudes the going was definitely slow - a few steps, a few breaths, rest, repeat. The difficult part of the climb was the bergschrund which had opened up between the glacier and the mountain. Exiting the glacier meant crossing a gap that was about 2 feet wide across a deep gap looking down on the rocky mountain side. Jim made it across first and was looking down on me as I made the daunting move - bridging the gap with an outstretched leg, boot gripping the rock by way of crampons scratching the surface, pulling on a tiny chalkstone.. I'd hate to do it again! We summited right around noon and rested while we took in the views and signed the summit register. And then we started on our descent. We had to pick our way around carefully as it was pretty steep once we were back on the snow. As the terrain eased off a bit we made good time glissading down the glacier, every step bringing more oxygen. After a short rest back at the campsite we packed up and continued down the trail back into Lyell Canyon where we camped out for another night before heading out. This is a great climb that is totally reasonable in 3 days with awesome views both in the Canyon and from the summit.