How to Climb the Sierra Mountains

How to Climb the Sierra Mountains
The Sierra Nevada mountain range is a large, spiny ridge of mountains in northeast California and western Nevada. This range is known for its majestic beauty, rugged terrain and glaciated peaks. Guided trips are popular and numerous, but it is possible to individually climb and hike here, too. This range is also home to the tallest peak in the lower 48 contiguous states: Mount Whitney.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Backpack
  • Ice axe
  • Sleeping bag
  • Water treatment
  • First-aid kit
  • Crampons
  • Trekking poles
  • Maps and guide book
  • Tent or tarp
  • Helmet
Step 1
Pre-plan your trip. There are hundreds of peaks, trails and routes a climber can take. One popular route is the John Muir Trail, named for famed outdoorsman and naturalist John Muir. Calculate mileage, days and calories you'll need. Make sure to take into account weather, temperatures and shelter.
Step 2
Bring a climbing or hiking buddy. The Sierra Nevada range is remote and rugged; getting caught in this wilderness alone can be dangerous. If you must climb alone, make sure to bring a homing device (such as a Spot Locator) that can alert law enforcement and emergency personnel.
Step 3
Choose the right season. Winter climbing and hiking in the Sierras is very challenging. The mountain range exceeds 10,000 feet quite often, and snowfall is significant. Do not climb in the winter without extensive experience and appropriate mountaineering gear. Optimal climbing and hiking seasons in the Sierras are very late spring through very early fall.
Step 4
Follow marked trails to get into the wilderness. Backcountry trekking though the wilderness is dangerous. There are numerous trails leading to the remote sections in the Sierra Nevada range, including the John Muir Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail.
Step 5
Train before heading into the mountains. The Sierra range is unforgiving for those who are ill-prepared. Steep ascents, loose, zig-zagging descents and sheer scree scrambles are not uncommon. Appropriate training must include an intense cardiovascular regimen.
Step 6
Take caution when at high altitude. Although mountain sickness is uncommon in the Sierra range, it can occur--especially in the wild, high southern section. The only cure for mountain sickness is to descend quickly. Make sure you have mapped out bail-out routes for such occasions.


Article Written By Duncan Jenkins

Based in Eugene, Ore., Duncan Jenkins has been writing finance-related articles since 2008. His specialties include personal finance advice, mortgage/equity loans and credit management. Jenkins obtained his bachelor's degree in English from Clark University.

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