Fourteenth Annual Summer Interdisciplinary Conference
Cathedral Peak, Tuolumne Meadows
Activities in and about Mammoth Lakes
A large variety of outdoor activities can be found in the immediate area of Mammoth Lakes, in the upper elevation portion of Yosemite National Park just to the west of Mammoth Lakes (Tuolumne Meadows) and in the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains just to the south of Mammoth Lakes. These activities include walking, hiking, scrambling, mountaineering, rock climbing, mountain biking, road biking, fishing, kayaking, golfing and much more. Over the next few months this web page will be filled out with descriptions of the many possibilities. At the present time this site describes only the climbing options, but the photos give a good idea of the terrain and the scenery that will be found in drives, walks, and hikes.
Rock Climbing is one of the many activities available in the general area of Mammoth Lakes, Yosemite, and the eastern slopes of the Sierras south of Mammoth Lakes. Rock climbing has always been a featured activity at the ASIC conferences (e.g. the picture above shows the organizer on pitch three of a climb of Castleton Tower during ASIC 2014, in Moab Utah).
As has been the case for almost every ASIC conference we will again be lucky to have the services of Guido Bonvicini, for climbing and other outdoor activities (from ASIC 2014, the picture on the left below shows the tower Ancient Arts, and the picture on the right shows Guido atop the final corkscrew--beginners, novices, and others are not required to produce similar photos).
One of the area activities will be a group rock climbing day (or perhaps two), free to all who register and wish to come, whose aim is to introduce beginners and novices to outdoor rock climbing in a scenic venue.
There are a large number of rock climbing areas adjacent to or quite near Mammoth Lakes. For those interested a guide to the local climbing is Mammoth Area Rock Climbs, 3rd Edition, by Marty Lewis--the plentitude of climbs is indicated by the 300 pages in this guide.
A few photos illustrate some of the possibilities. An easy multipitch climb (many pitches) is Crystal Peak:
Crystal Peak, Mammoth Lakes
There are also a variety of walls, including Dike Wall:
Dike Wall, Mammoth Lakes
There are plentiful bouldering opportunities, as illustrated in the photo at the top of the home page, and also here:
Bouldering in Way Lake area, Mammoth Lakes
Yosemite Valley, iconically famous, is extremely crowded in mid-summer (access by vehicle is tortuously slow) and, because it lies at relatively low altitude, is very hot at that time. However the high altitude portion of Yosemite, Tuolumne Meadows, has good summer temperatures, is wonderful for hiking, photography, and rock climbing, and is easily reached from Mammoth Lakes. It has one main road (Route 120) from Tioga Pass on the east (the entrance at about 10,000 foot elevation that one accesses from Mammoth Lakes) to Olmstead Point on the west, at which point the road descends via a roundabout switchback loop to Yosemite Valley Floor.
It is worth noting that a visit to the valley floor from Mammoth Lakes is possible during the conference days, but the time this takes will limit activities in the valley. By car it is about 45 minutes from Mammoth Lakes to Tioga Pass and the east entrance to the park. It is then another 1.5 hours to the west entrance to Yosemite, at which point one joins the usual summer traffic jam trying to gain entrance to the valley floor. If one supposes three hours each way and a return by 4 PM for the talks, then even with an early start there would be only perhaps three hours in the valley itself. However, views of the valley are available from the meadows: There are quite good and dramatic views of Half Dome and some of Yosemite valley a short walk from Olmstead Point at the west end of Tuolumne Meadows. Of course visits to the valley floor before and after ASIC are quite possible.
Tuolumne Meadows is an alpine meadow, so the road is relatively flat with views of flowers, wildlife, wandering streams and lakes, and many granite domes. If one is willing to hike there are many quite dramatic and scenic views available, as illustrated with some of the photos here, showing some of the sites and possibilities for hiking and rock climbing.
Most ASIC attendees will have cars, but there are various bus tours form the Mammoth Area, and from Tuolumne Meadows to the valley floor, and a free shuttle service across Tuolumne Meadows (see http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/tmbus.htm).
Some of the longer hikes and climbs in Tuolumne would require such a long time that it would not be possible to return in time for the conference presentations--for these it would be best to plan itineraries for days prior to or after ASIC. However there are many shorter hikes and climbs quite close to the road (including multi-pitch climbs of easy or moderate difficulty) that could be planned for conference days.
The possibilities for rock climbing in Tuolumne Meadows are endless, because of the profusion of granite domes. A book describing many of the main possibilities is Tuolumne Free Climbs, 2nd Edition, by Barnes, McNamara, Roper. Many of the climbs are easy or intermediate in difficulty and involve many pitches (though not as many as found on the large cliffs in the valley). Some of the climbs require long approaches from the road and are best planned for days prior to or after ASIC. However, many of the granite domes and the climbs on them are adjacent to the road, or just a short walk distant, and climbs and hikes on them would be quite feasible on conference days.
The Great White Book, Tuolumne Meadows
Climbing the Great White Book, Tuolumne Meadows
Eichorn’s Pinnacle, Tuolumne Meadows
Fairview Done, Tuolumne Meadows
Climbing Fairview Dome,Tuolumne Meadows
Cathedral Peak, Tuolumne Meadows
Third Pillar of Dana, East of Tuolumne Meadows
Near top of Third Pillar of Dana, east of Tuolumne Meadows
Crescent Arch, Daff Dome, Tuolumne Meadows
South of Mammoth Lakes is a large area on the eastern slopes of the Sierras, extending from the Owens River Gorge (25 minutes drive south), Bishop area (43 minutes drive south) to Lone Pine (90 minutes south, and just east of Mt. Whitney). There are several visitor centers. The Bishop center website is: http://www.bishopvisitor.com/activitiesBishopArea.php.
The general area near Bishop is most famous for bouldering (Happy Boulders, the Buttermilks and much more) but there are also a huge number of roped rock climbing areas. The guide to bouldering and rock climbing is: Bishop Area Rock Climbs by Croft and Lewis. This guidebook covers all the areas to the south other than Owens River Gorge.
Bishop Area Scenery
Bouldering in the Buttermilks, Bishop Area
Mt. Whitney from the Bishop Area
Guitar Lake, Mt Whitney Hiking, near Bishop
Owens River Gorge:
The Owens River Gorge (ORG) is about one hour driving southeast from Mammoth Lakes. The guidebook to the ORG is Owens River Gorge Climbs, 10th Edition by Lewis. The ORG has a huge number of one and two pitch climbs of high quality, most bolted for sport climbing. Summer temperatures in the ORG can be hot at times, so climbing there should be planned in line with the temperature forecasts, and/or in the early AM or in the shade.
All of the areas described above in the climbing sections have extensive hiking available. It should be noted that altitude is very high in some areas: High altitude hiking requires acclimatization and time and difficulty are easy to underestimate. For example the Sierra's stretching from north of Mammoth Lakes and Yosemite down to Mt. Whitney (the highest point at 14,500 ft.) has numerous peaks above 12,000 feet. Many high peaks have non-technical routes to the top (trails, or scrambling at levels of class 1-2, perhaps a bit of 3, with routes marked only by cairns). A number of the highest peaks, especially those with long approaches best be reserved for days before or after ASIC (and a few with long approaches from the nearest trailhead would be much easier with overnight camping near the base). Descriptions of the way to get to the high peaks of Yosemite may be found at: http://www.summitpost.org/yosemite-s-highest-peaks/742800.
Only a few of the highest peaks are accessible as day trips during ASIC, given the need to return by 4 PM. Those high peaks that are accessible during ASIC would require a very early AM start, and fast, fit and acclimatized hikers. An example would be Mt. Dana, a peak that is highly recommended (for hiking, as well as for the climbing on its Third Pillar of Dana). The easiest routes to the summit are the NW Slope (or West Slope) and the Glacier Canyon (both Class 2). These routes starts at the Tioga Pass entrance station to Yosemite on Rt.120, at 9,941 ft. (~ ca. 3000 m), and present a strenuous half-day hike to the summit at 13,053 ft. E.g. the NW slope route from trailhead to summit is only 2.8 miles but climbs about 3,100 vertical feet at an average grade of about 23%. This hike is described on the above website, and also in: http://www.everytrail.com/guide/day-hike-to-mt-dana-.
Aside from the highest peaks in the Sierras, there are numerous hikes of high quality giving excellent views that can easily be done during ASIC in time for a return by 4 PM. These include a few of the lower peaks, such as some of the domes in Tuolumne Meadows, and hikes below the peaks but giving outstanding views, often along the sides of the many lakes in the area.
Particularly noteworthy for those wanting views of Yosemite Valley is the seven mile (each way) hike to Clouds Rest, from the western end of Tuolumne Meadows, starting at Tenaya Lake on Rt. 120 at altitude 8150 ft. ending at the peak at altitude 9926 ft. and providing one of Yosemite's best views, including the valley and half dome. See: http://www.yosemitehikes.com/tioga-road/clouds-rest/trail-map.htm. See the photo below:
Many trails in the immediate Mammoth Lakes area are described in:
A strenuous and scenic loop trail over Mammoth Crest is described at: http://www.hikingwalking.com/destinations/ca/ca_ses/mammoth_lakes/mammoth_crest.
A more comprehensive map of many possibilities in the general area is found on a scrollable and zoomable map at: http://www.trails.com/activity.aspx?area=14121.
Hikes in and around Yosemite are given at: http://www.yosemitehikes.com/hikes.htm.
A scrollable and zoomable map is found at: http://www.trails.com/activity.aspx?area=14366.
Some attendees may wish to hike up Mt. Whitney, but the distance from Mammoth Lakes and the time to hike and return will not allow such a tour to be made during ASIC. However, such a hike could be planned for days before or after. See for example: http://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/whitney.htm.