Place Name: Inyo County
Place Description: State: California
Elevation: 13,893 Feet
Prominence: 813 Feet
Elevation Gain: 5,191 Feet
Lists: Sierra Peaks Section, Sierra Sampler, Vagmarken Crest, Western States Climbers List
A Giant Pile Of Boulders
Talk about one impressive pile of boulders! Mount Agassiz is very close to being a 14er and is one of the highest ranked peaks in California. With a nice trail hike to Bishop Pass, the class 2 boulder hopping leads to unbelievable summit views!
- Fantastic views
- Class 2
- Trail hike to Bishop Pass
- Crowded trail
- Parking can be an issue on summer weekends
- 1900 feet of talus
If you are looking for a giant pile of boulders, you have come to the right place. At 13,893 feet, Mount Agassiz is one of the highest peaks in California.
Towering above Bishop Pass, Mount Agassiz sits just inside the border of Kings Canyon National Park overlooking the Bishop Creek and Big Pine Creek drainages.
Bishop, CA is your jumping off point for Cloudripper. Take Highway 168 to the west and follow the signs to Aspendell and South Lake. You will turn left following the road to the trailhead at South Lake.
This pretty drive follows Bishop Creek and passes a couple resorts before terminating in a large parking area near the South Lake dam.
From the parking lot, start heading down the trail towards Chocolate Lakes and Bishop Pass.
The first 5 miles of this trip are on a great trail. It follows through some aspens above the shore of South Lake and works its way into the John Muir Wilderness.
Pass the junction to Treasure Lakes and then at the next junction, follow the sign to Bishop Pass. The left fork will take you to Chocolate Lakes.
Shortly after the junction, the trail passes along the shores of Long Lake with Chocolate Peak rising up to your left.
After Long Lake, the hike follows along above Spearhead Lake and then passes Timberline Tarns on your left and Saddlerock Lake on your right.
If you haven’t seen enough lakes, don’t worry, Bishop Lake is just ahead.
Once past Bishop Lake, start the switchbacks up to Bishop Pass.
From the pass, it’s all off trail from here. Mount Agassiz is off to your left, the giant pile of talus. The chute that you will ascend can be seen and shows the route you will take to the summit.
There is a large Boulder in the flats before the mountain. I used that as a guide to head towards the correct chute.
At this point, you are less than a mile away, however, 1,900 feet of boulder hopping awaits.
The lower chute is mostly stable talus and rises up to a small shelf. I used a large flat faced rock on the left to guide us up to this point.
This next stretch, the chute angles to the left a bit as it climbs a little steeper. There is a prominent outcrop on the right side, which will come in handy as a landmark on your descent.
The last 500 feet is self-explanatory. Just climb to the highest point in the left.
Once you climb to the highest boulders, expect to be blown away. The views from here are breathtaking.
The giant North Palisade and Mount Sill sit directly in front of you with the Palisades Glacier and Big Pine Lakes just below it.
Expansive wilderness lies to the west and even Mount Whitney can be spotted down the line of the Sierra Crest.
The Final Word
After all is said and done, this hike is absolutely worth it. The boulder hopping, while long and tedious, is not overly difficult. Fortunately, the rock is mostly stable and there is nothing over class 2 to contend with.
This summit does get a fair share of traffic for an off-trail destination and Bishop Pass Trail is one of the busiest in the county, so don’t expect complete solitude. However, you can expect amazing views, beautiful lakes, and an amazing day in the wilderness.
As far as California 13ers go, I rate this as an intermediate adventure.