2011 Adventure Run Ideas – High Sierra

The spectacular High Sierra features almost limitless opportunities for exploration. Over the past few years I have had the opportunity to visit many places in the “range of light” but the gorgeous views and memorable experiences keep me coming back for more! Here are some adventure run ideas for the High Sierra for this summer:
  • The Whaleback and Big Wet Meadow: One of the most remote spots in the entire range, it takes 18 miles just to reach Big Wet Meadow in order to get a glimpse of The Whaleback, but I hear the views of the sheer granite cliffs and meadows are  magical. A trip here would be a good opportunity to climb peaks on the Great Western Divide, including Milestone, Midway, and Centennial.
  • Dusy Basin and North Palisade: A trip over Bishop Pass to Dusy Basin provides an awe-inspiring view of the West side of the Palisades group of extremely rugged peaks. Last year I climbed Mount Agassiz and Columbine Peak. Next time it would be nice to climb North Palisade, the highest point in the Palisades at 14,248 ft.
  • Palisades Circumnavigation: A complete tour of the Palisades Group including passage through five  high passes: Scimitar Pass, Potluck Pass, Thunderbolt Pass, and Jigsaw Pass.
  • Benson Lake Loop: A big loop (over 45  miles) out of Twin Lakes down to a large alpine lake with a full fledged beach and then up the spectacular Matterhorn canyon with great views of Sawtooth Ridge. This aesthetic loop has a nice chunk along the PCT. I visited the beginning and end of this loop last year on my run of the Crown Point Lollipop last year.
  • Hamilton Lakes and Kaweah Gap: Last year we visited this spectacular section of the High Sierra Trail and climbed Mount Stewart. This area has tremendous views and the magnificent amphitheater of rock walls of the Valhallas surrounding the Hamilton Lakes has been likened to a little Yosemite Valley. It was also great to visit Precipice Lake, location of Ansel Adams’ famous photo “Frozen Lake and Cliffs.” The only difference is that the entrance to this place is 16 miles from the nearest trailhead. The views were so amazing that I plan to return this year and climb a different peak, perhaps Eagle Scout Peak or Lion Rock. As a run, the High Sierra Trail from Crescent Meadow to Bearpaw camp is very enjoyable and runnable stretch of trail.
  • Arrow Peak via Bench Lake: The view of Arrow Peak from Bench Lake is one of the classic views in the Sierra. It’s quite a slog to get back there via Taboose Pass, but it looks like it will be worth it!
  • Lyell and Maclure: I climbed these peaks in 2008, but look forward to returning for a faster time. The first several miles along Lyell Canyon are mostly flat and smooth running.
  • Great Western Divide Traverse: One of the most remote and rugged areas in the High Sierra. These peaks form a spectacular skyline from the Sierra Crest. There are many options and routes up various peaks.
  • Russell-Whitney-Muir: Fun scrambling up Russell and the north face of Whitney on this very aesthetic loop of the Whitney region.
  • Mount Langley: Another great trail run up the southermost fourteener in the Sierras and one of the highest trailheads at over 10,000 feet.
  • John Muir Trail: 222 miles from Whitney Portal to Yosemite Valley, the JMT is one of the most famous trails in the world. At the very least, I’d like to cover significant portions of this trail that I have not already seen to prepare for a future speed attempt.


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