Mount Williamson North Arete

Independence, California

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Mt. Williamson is the second highest peak in California and was named after Major R.S. Williamson (1824–1882), a topographer with the U.S. Corps of Engineers. In 1853, Williamson was given the task of finding a potential rail route through the southern Sierra. After exploring the area around Walker Pass, he reported it as unsuitable and the federal government dropped the project, eventually choosing the route over Donner Summit instead. Norman Clyde wrote, “[Mt. Williamson] is perhaps the most spectacular mountain of all the ranges viewed from the Owens Valley. Its handsome, deeply fluted, cathedral-like mass is especially picturesque from the east and north, while from the crest of the Sierra, it is one of the most conspicuous peaks and can be seen from almost every prominent elevation.” The north side of Mt. Williamson is a dramatic wall dominating the view for travelers heading south from Big Pine to Independence on U.S. Highway 395. The north arete can be seen dropping over 3,000 feet from Williamson’s West Horn into Williamson Creek.

Mount Williamson: North Arete Professional Review and Guide

"Mt. Williamson is the second highest peak in California and was named after Major R.S. Williamson (1824–1882), a topographer with the U.S. Corps of Engineers. In 1853, Williamson was given the task of finding a potential rail route through the southern Sierra. After exploring the area around Walker Pass, he reported it as unsuitable and the federal government dropped the project, eventually choosing the route over Donner Summit instead. Norman Clyde wrote, “[Mt. Williamson] is perhaps the most spectacular mountain of all the ranges viewed from the Owens Valley. Its handsome, deeply fluted, cathedral-like mass is especially picturesque from the east and north, while from the crest of the Sierra, it is one of the most conspicuous peaks and can be seen from almost every prominent elevation.” The north side of Mt. Williamson is a dramatic wall dominating the view for travelers heading south from Big Pine to Independence on U.S. Highway 395. The north arete can be seen dropping over 3,000 feet from Williamson’s West Horn into Williamson Creek."

Activity Type: Climbing
Nearby City: Independence
Class: Class 5 - 5.5
Local Contacts: Inyo National Forest; Sequoia National Park
Local Maps: USGS Mt. Williamson, Manzanar
Grade: Grade III
Driving Directions: Directions to Mount Williamson: North Arete

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May 2018