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

Jun 15, 2013 - Leavitt Peak


Partners: (None)

Distance: 12.56 miles

Elevation Gain: 3,430 feet

Trip Time: 6:07

Maps and Stats:
With the trip to Mt. Whitney only 2 weeks away, I wanted to get a jump on the acclimatization process but didn't want to do anything too difficult. This called for finding a trailhead at high elevation with a peak that could be climbed with no more than a half day's effort, but also that was on one of the Sierra peaks lists so I could continue my progress with those. I decided upon Leavitt Peak, an SPS and WSC listed peak located off HWY 108 at Sonora Pass. I didn't leave the house until after 10 AM, and 3 hours later got off to an early afternoon start, although I had to first stop and read about the rather interesting history of this particular mountain pass.

I had read up on the route, and didn't bother taking my GPS. The trip looked to be simple - just follow the Pacific Crest Trail for about 4 miles then head up the scree field to the top of Leavitt Peak. What I wasn't sure about was the snow level. From the early going it was evident that there would be intermittent snow patches that would add a little fun to the day. We had a spell of really warm weather recently, and the receding snow giving way to streams providing more proof that summer would soon be here. I followed the PCT, and crossed more snowfields than I had thought when I first saw the mountain. No matter, there were good footholds from the many people who crossed this section of the PCT before me and there was no danger of sliding down the mountain. The views quickly opened up towards Sonora and Stanislaus Peaks, two peaks which I had climbed last summer. I particularly enjoyed this view of the volcanic looking Stanislaus Peak which was one of my favorite climbs to date.

For the early portion of the hike Leavitt Peak is not really visible, as it lingers beyond the first ridgeline. After maybe an hour I crested on the ridgeline and saw my first views of Leavitt Peak, becoming a bit worried about the amount of snow on the mountain. Fortunately, the trail would not lead directly up towards the peak, but rather would circle around the back side. During this portion of the day I came across several frozen lakes along with some other ones off in the distance that had already thawed for the year. While I had run into a few people on the trail, I hadn't seen anyone for a while until I came across two hikers who were doing a significant portion of the PCT - one told me he had been on the trail since April while his companion had joined him later on. I inquired as to the snow cover on the back side of Leavitt and they said it would be no problem. Feeling more confident, I continued across a massive snowfield before reaching the back side of Leavitt Peak.

The PCT hikers were right - snow would not be a problem on the ascent. There is no trail leading from the PCT to Leavitt Peak...you just have to start heading up the scree filled slope. Climbing loose scree and talus is never fun, and this was no exception. I was enjoying the views however, which helped offset downside of the slog up. Before too long I reached what looked like it could be the summit (I was hoping)but once reached that I could see I still had another phase of climbing to get up. It was not at all difficult, however, just more slogging up the scree until finally reaching the summit. From below the summit looks like it is probably a small area, however, in reality it is a massive flat rocky field. The summit views were fantastic, however, especially for not having to work all that hard to get up here. Lower snow covered peaks set against lakes and the higher peaks of Yosemite (beyond Tower Peak) were all visible. After enjoying the solitude and fantastic summit views for maybe 40 minutes I began the descent.

The return trip was a little more enjoyable, now that I could glissade down the snowfields rather than avoiding the elevation loss as I had on the way up. Of course, you have to pick and choose your spots, as some of the snowfields led to areas I was not interested in visiting. I must really focus on what is in front of me on my hikes because the return offered up some really nice scenery that I somehow didn't see on the way up. I had my last view of Leavitt Peak before crossing the ridgeline and heading down towards the Highway. The day ended with a nice shady walk through the woods and I was back to my car after 12 miles.

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