Mount Humphreys East Arete

Bishop, California

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John Muir described Mt. Humphreys as “a grand wide-winged mountain at the head of the San Joaquin. Its head is high above its fellows and its wings are white with ice and snow.” He first visited this region in 1873 and quite possibly made the first ascent because his notes recounted him having “climbed the highest peak at the head of the San Joaquin.” The Whitney Survey named the peak for Andrew Humphreys, a Civil War hero who became the chief engineer of the U.S. Army after the war. The east arete of Mt. Humphreys is a long, exposed, and continuously interesting climb ending at Married Men’s Point. Norman Clyde made the first ascent of this airy route and considered the peak a classic mountaineering challenge. “The mountain possesses an unusually stern and almost forbidding aspect and is generally rated one of the most difficult of the higher peaks of the Sierra Nevada.” Many parties shorten the route up the east arete by climbing a steep scree and talus gully to the notch at the base of the final ridge. Although this saves time, this shortcut eliminates much of the knife-edged traverse that gives this route its charm. The complete route to the summit from the saddle joining Peak 12,241 (locally known as “Peaklet”) is highly recommended and offers one of the classic ridge climbs of the Sierra.

Mount Humphreys: East Arete Professional Review and Guide

"John Muir described Mt. Humphreys as “a grand wide-winged mountain at the head of the San Joaquin. Its head is high above its fellows and its wings are white with ice and snow.” He first visited this region in 1873 and quite possibly made the first ascent because his notes recounted him having “climbed the highest peak at the head of the San Joaquin.” The Whitney Survey named the peak for Andrew Humphreys, a Civil War hero who became the chief engineer of the U.S. Army after the war. The east arete of Mt. Humphreys is a long, exposed, and continuously interesting climb ending at Married Men’s Point. Norman Clyde made the first ascent of this airy route and considered the peak a classic mountaineering challenge. “The mountain possesses an unusually stern and almost forbidding aspect and is generally rated one of the most difficult of the higher peaks of the Sierra Nevada.” Many parties shorten the route up the east arete by climbing a steep scree and talus gully to the notch at the base of the final ridge. Although this saves time, this shortcut eliminates much of the knife-edged traverse that gives this route its charm. The complete route to the summit from the saddle joining Peak 12,241 (locally known as “Peaklet”) is highly recommended and offers one of the classic ridge climbs of the Sierra."

Activity Type: Climbing
Nearby City: Bishop
Class: Class 5 - 5.5
Local Contacts: John Muir Wilderness
Local Maps: USGS Mt. Tom
Grade: Grade II
Driving Directions: Directions to Mount Humphreys: East Arete

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May 2018