Hiking Stats as of 11/11/2019
Total Trips:
Total Distance:
Total Elevation Gain:
 3,891.68 miles
 1,060,050 feet

Oct 19, 2013 - Gibbs, Mount


Partners: (None)

Distance: 7.35 miles

Elevation Gain: 3,224 feet

Trip Time: 4:43

Trip Report  |  Trip Photos  |  GPX: (1)
Summitpost | Wikipedia | Bob Burd's TR
Maps and Stats:
Today's agenda called for a Saturday half-day hike up to the summit of Mt. Gibbs, on the far eastern border of Yosemite but within a very short distance of Highway 120. A successful summit of Mt. Gibbs would give me my 16th Sierra Peaks Section ascent and my 20th from the Western States Climbers list. For several weeks Yosemite had been off limits due to the Federal Government shutdown, when hiking would have been some sort of Federal crime or something.

I left home around 10:15 AM, really too late to be able to spend to much time on the mountain, but I still held some mild hope that the 3 1/2 hour drive would magically only take me 2 hours and I would have time to attempt the Mt. Dana / Mt. Gibbs traverse that I have been wanting to do now for over a year. I had climbed Mt. Dana last July, and as funny as it seems now, it way my first peak over 10,000 feet (no reason to take things slowly - Dana is over 13,000 feet). Since that time I have added 12 more peaks over 10,000 feet, and in looking over the peak lists noticed the proximity of Mt. Gibbs, which rises to an elevation about 275 feet lower than Dana.

By the time I reached the Mono Pass trailhead I had given up my faint hope of getting the Dana/Gibbs duo. The trailhead for Dana is another few miles east and nearly 1,000 feet higher, but given I was only looking at a 6 mile round trip hike I couldn't really complain about the extra elevation I would have to gain. I set off at 1:45, somewhat concerned about the snow on the slopes of Gibbs. My planned route was about 1/4 mile of trail with the rest being a steep climb up the ridgeline running from left to center in the linked picture (Google Earth view) Routefinding was not very difficult, since the basic direction was up.

By 2:30 I crested on the first plateau, happy to have a momentary reprieve from the constant uphill grind. From this vantagepoint the summit looked pretty darn close, although I was a bit skeptical that I was really looking at the final summit. Of course, it turned out that I was not - this was to be the first of many false summits along the way. Once I got above the treeline I was able to easily track my true progress by glancing to my left at the the impressive sight of Mt. Dana. With Dana being only 275 feet higher that Gibbs, I knew I was nowhere near the top at this point. Half an hour after spotting the first false summit I crested that plateau and, (surprise!) saw another summit off in the distance. Rats. At least I had earned some views at this point, looking over towards Mt. Conness peeking out to the North and back west across the tranquility of Yosemite.

No time for rest, however, as I had failed to account for my lack of acclimation to this altitude in my time estimate. I recalled how easily Kyle and I raced up Whitney several months prior but in thinking more about that we of course spent 2 days acclimating first. When I had done Dana last year the memories of take "5 steps, stop, and rest" came flooding back to me. So it was as I started up yet another steep slope. By about 3:45 I was nearing the top of what looked like the main summit (please!), but of course once I got there I looked across at a somewhat lengthy traverse across the summit ridge. At least it looked like I had achieved the majority of the elevation I would need so this wasn't as disheartening as it could have been. I rather enjoyed this part of the climb, as I could now enjoy the full views back to Mt. Dana and could make out the route of the Dana/Gibbs traverse that I still hope to do some day. I arrived at the summit a few minutes before 4:30 and was treated to great views - snow capped mountains, the north and south edges of Mono Lake, the edge of the eastern Sierra Crest as it falls away into the Owens Valley and the view back towards my ascent route.

Unfortunately, the summit ammo box had no register, so I wasn't able to sign in. Maybe that was just as well, as the setting sun seemed to be telling me to get the heck down. I left the summit by 4:45 and while I was cussing the steep slopes and avoiding the snowfields on the way up, I was aiming right for the snow on descent. I managed to stay on the descending ridgeline all the way down until it hooked back up with the Mono Pass trail (going up I hadn't realized this was possible and instead bypassed the start of the ridgeline and got stuck scrambling up a desperately steep slope trying to regain the ridgeline). I had finished the descent and was on the last bit of trail as the sun disappeared and got back to my car at 6:30. Not a bad way to spend a half day!

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