North & Conness 3rd Class Routes From Lundy Canyon

  • Updated: September 08, 2013
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

September 6th to 8th, 2013
North Peak (12,242')
Mount Conness (12,590')
Day 1: 4.3 miles, 2,300'
Day 2: 8.3 miles 2,900' (Conness)
Day 3: 9.2 miles, 2,100' (North & Out)

With summer largely over and with my compressed JMT trip looming I wanted to fit in  trip or two with a little more relaxed party bent to them.

But of course I still wanted peaks!  To that end Neal Robbins and I planned a max permit size outing to the Saddlebag Lake area to grab the 3rd-class-if-you-really-want-them-to-be peaks North & Conness aimed at WTC students for the weekend before I was set to start the JMT.

These peaks have a reputation for being very beautiful can be done with a far easier approach by entering at Saddlebag Lake and taking the trail past a no camping zone to any of the further in lakes.  That seemed a bit too pedestrian so instead we entered via Lundy Canyon which involved 2400' gain in 4 miles including a short section that was exceedingly steep and loose.


Oh and Yosemite was still on fire.  Just to make things memorable.

Since we had a long drive up past Mammoth we left at a reasonable 3:30 pm taking the opportunity to stop at the always excellent Domingoes in Boron for dinner.  And since we were there we stuck our head into the old prison complex nearby to see if anyone had set it on fire again yet.

Someone really needs to steal the no trespassing signs again

Many hours later we drove to the end of Lundy Canyon and found Neal's Tahoe with several sleeping bags visible nearby.

There was an actual campground a bit further back down the canyon but considering it was after midnight and we were only laying out sleeping bags for a few hours we decided this would do fine.  With only a slight difficulty we found some flat spots and crashed.

The next morning we assembled our group of 10 enthusiastic individuals and set off up Lundy Canyon.  As advertised the first few miles are easy trail and spectacular.

There were groves of Aspen along the way that looked just about ready to turn gold and I saw a few campsites scattered around though everyone we ran into back there seemed to just be dayhiking.

As expected the trail got significantly worse where we had to climb out of the canyon.

It varied from slightly annoying to full on pain in the butt but about half way up we followed ducks off to the right to get into some steep but decent rock which of course doesn't look anywhere near as steep in the pictures.

Past this relatively short section it turned back into a good trail and we reached the start of the lakes.

Our plan was to camp somewhere around Shamrock Lake but when we got there we found small two groups already there taking up the only sites we could find big enough for our 8 tents.  I was starting to get concerned we might have to camp right on top of one of them when we found what turned out to be pretty much the perfect site at the SE corner of Shamrock.

We were tucked in around the corner basically giving us a private bit of the lake to enjoy.  Tent sites were acceptable and comfortable seating was all over.

After last weeks swim attempt at Lou Berverly turning out to be barely waist deep I couldn't wait to dive in.

Unfortunately this lake was cold.  Very cold.  The sort of cold that makes you yell and scramble back out of the water as quickly as possible.

That didn't stop some all of us from going in multiple times.  It was really quite pleasant once you were out in the sun and regained feeling in your skin.

Again like last week the smoke from the Yosemite fire grew much worse towards later afternoon and as the sun went down below the mountains you could see lines of light coming through the smoke.

We settled in to the important business of the traditional dinner / Sierra Club happy hour and the quickly becoming traditional game of Cards Against Humanity.

If you've never played Cards Against Humanity it's like a dirty version of Apples to Apples.  And when I say dirty is truly lives up to it's subtitle of "A game for horrible people"  Much fun was had by all.

We played for several hours until everyone was complaining about sitting our on the rocks that long and we gradually drifted away to our sleeping bags.

We all woke up right around sunrise and got started on what was to be the longest day of the trip.  Our goal was the eastern ridge of Conness which was reported to be 3rd class.  Secor listed it as accessible from the shore of Saddlebag but since we were coming in from the north we decided to head up a prominent ridge coming up from just east of Conness Lake that looked rather promising.

The ridge we took is on the left side

After a series of straightforward slabs we made the ridge and the real fun began.

Initially we stuck on the very top of the ridge coming across a few fun obstacles we had to work people though.

Increasing amounts of exposure led us to drop down the southern side of the ridge where the going was a bit easier.  If one were so inclined you could actually climb the drainage to the south and keep the entire thing 2nd class.

All of this combined with one case of altitude sickness slowed us down quite a bit but once we reached the junction of the east and south ridges it went far quicker.

The Conness summit

Oddly enough we found two packs here stowed out of the wind.  They didn't have a lot in them and didn't seem to belong to anyone we ran into near the summit.

The last bit below the peak had a bit of scrambling but some overachieving trail crew had practically built a staircase if you looked for it.

I still haven't found what exactly used to be up there but you can clearly see the remains of some sort of structure.

Another climber made it to the summit right behind us saving me from having to go through the usual routine with my tripod and the timer.  Wohoo!

Notice all the smoke in the background.  Basically the wind direction was all that was separating us from being covered.

Heading down we stuck to the 2nd class drainage until we needed to cross back over the ridge.

There was some easy 3rd class and the far side of the ridge was a walkoff leaving us to follow the trail back over to our lake.

Sadly we made it back to camp without even needing headlamps.  Too late to swim though!

The third and final day we needed to reach the slightly closer North Peak, hike out, and then do the somewhat long drive home.

We were moving just as soon as it was light enough to see.

We followed the same route we used the day before but instead of entering the drainage between North and Conness we angled up for the notch below North.

You can gain the ridge almost anywhere and we found occasional ducks.  From there we swung around to the SE face of North.

It got steep for awhile and other areas were very loose but there are generally several options.  We also didn't see anything approaching the 4th class section that had been mentioned on SummitPost.

Looking from afar we'd actually been most worried about the section right below the summit which you can see above in between the two outcroppings.  An it turned out this wasn't even 3rd class but just a series of 2nd class somewhat loose ledges.  You come up here.

From there you're practically at the summit.  Unfortunately there was no register to be found even when walked over to the other bumps along the ridge just to make sure.

We took the normal 2nd class route down which was just a little further down the southwest ridge.  There was a clear if loose use trail and occasional ducks the entire way.

We side hilled back towards the eastern ridge which saved us having to loose and regain altitude but there was actually a trail in the drainage below that probably led back to where we'd been the day before when we started climbing the other ridge.

Eventually we made it back to camp, packed, and headed for the cars.

Going down Lundy Canyon was less pleasant than going up.  This time most of us stuck to the loose chute instead of the 3rd class to the side.  It's steep and tends to slide but it's over before too long and the trail below is a stroll.

The wind must have shifted because the blue skies from that morning turned into a smokey mess that gave everything an apocalyptic tinge.

The smoke was worse even than Seven Gables which is saying something.

Driving out the entire east side was cloaked in smoke.

We stopped in Mammoth for post trip Mexican at the surprisingly good Roberto's and then started the long drive south.

Then it was back to Boise for 4 days where I'd make the decision to go ahead with the compressed JMT thru hike and hope for the best...

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