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Mount Emerson: South Face Waterfall Route

Eastern Sierra + White Mountains Area, California

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Mount Emerson: South Face Waterfall Route

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  • The first of many pitches on the climb up Mount Emerson's South Face.- Mount Emerson: South Face Waterfall Route
  • The last pitch on Mount Emerson's Waterfall Route before the chute.- Mount Emerson: South Face Waterfall Route
  • Looking back toward the start of the trail.- Mount Emerson: South Face Waterfall Route
  • Looking east from the approach trail.- Mount Emerson: South Face Waterfall Route
  • Piute lake from Mount Emerson's summit.- Mount Emerson: South Face Waterfall Route
  • Summit view from Mount Emerson during sunset.- Mount Emerson: South Face Waterfall Route
  • Waterfall route on Mount Emerson.- Mount Emerson: South Face Waterfall Route
  • Dry Waterfall route on Mount Emerson. - Mount Emerson: South Face Waterfall Route
  • Sabrina Basin. - Mount Emerson: South Face Waterfall Route
  • The turnoff from the approach trail. - Mount Emerson: South Face Waterfall Route
  • Mount Emerson from the approach trail.- Mount Emerson: South Face Waterfall Route
  • - Mount Emerson: South Face Waterfall Route
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Short approach. Great climbing.
Cons: 
Can be icy earlier in the season.
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Alerts: 
be ready for mosquitos earlier in the season. the chimney may be wet/icy in early season or if there is significant rainfall during otherwise drier months
Region:
Eastern Sierra + White Mountains Area, CA
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
No
Recommended Equipment:
Harness / rope / anchors, Helmets
Alpine climbing NCCS rating: 
Grade IV
Net Elevation Gain: 
4,469.00 ft (1,362.15 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Summer
Total Distance: 
6.00 mi (9.66 km)
Trailhead Elevation: 
9,347.00 ft (2,848.97 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Pro Contributor

Mount Emerson's South Face, otherwise known as the Waterfall Route, is considered a great entry-level alpine climb in the Sierra Nevada, but don't let this reputation fool you: This is a long and challenging route that is normally completed in 10 hours.

The hike in starts from the North Lake Campground, where there is plenty of parking available even if you aren't camping at the small campground at the trailhead. Make sure you bring some bug spray if you come early in the season as mosquitoes are very common here. After 1.4 miles on the trail, around 37.233035, -118.650336, you'll want to leave the trail and start finding your own route toward the base of the climb. Once you reach the base, the Waterfall route is pretty obvious until you reach the last pitch, where the route finding can be a little challenging afterward. This route is rated 5.4. Note that the Chimney section can be wet or icy in the early season or after rainfall. After the Chimney, continue up Class 3 and 4 terrain and head up to the chute while aiming for a notch on the ridge, then proceed along the ridge toward the summit. There are few knife-edge ridges that are pretty exposed and that get your adrenaline pumping. 

After reaching the summit, be ready for a long, steep scree descent toward Loch Leven Lake to meet back up with the trail. This climb can be done in a long day, but the climb and the view is worth all the effort.

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(13 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(32 within a 30 mile radius)

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