Located in the Sierra Nevada, Mount Ritter is the 16th highest peak in California, and the highest peak in the Ritter range. Most of the wilderness permits to approach Ritter come out of either Yosemite via Tuolumne Meadows or Mammoth via Devils Postpile and reservations are filled up fairly quickly for June, July, and August.
Isberg trailhead is out of Granite Campground in Sierra National Forest, and the permit process is still by virtue of snail mail, and subsequently are under utilized and relatively easy to attain during peak backpacking season. We did this trip during a week in August of 2013 with the intention of bagging Ritter midway through the week. Unfortunately, 4 of us caught nasty head-colds on the second day of our trip and we opted out of attempting the Ritter summit. We did, however, spend the full week in the Sierras and did every other aspect of our trip.
The trail head at Granite Creek is at 7000′ elevation, the first 2.5 miles is a moderate uphill climb to 7900′. This is where The Niche resides, which is a small campground on the edge of the hill next to a very please creek. We picked up our wilderness permits at Clover Meadow Ranger Station on our first day in and packed up to The Niche for the first night.
Hemlock Crossing is a big star of this trip, and it was our second day. The river that runs through this area is deep even during the dry years and we were able to jump off the bridge into the water, and slide down the waterfall that was right at the camp. They might as well change the name of this location from Hemlock Crossing to Hemlock Water Park. We spent the whole day here in the water, and on the way back out we stayed here another day even though our original plan didn’t have us here. I have every intention of coming back to Hemlock Crossing in the summer of 2015 with the sole intention of spending my entire time at this spot.
Mount Ritter Base
From Hemlock Crossing, you make your way up to the base of Mount Ritter, just south of Twin Lakes. The trail up there is broken and incomplete, and if you don’t have a GPS to help stay on the trail then keep a close eye out for trail ducks. As you approach the base of Mount Ritter, you’ll enter into a box canyon. In this canyon is where we made our camp, but we made our way up to the base of Mount Ritter to get some pictures. From here is where we intended to make our ascent on the following day, but due to our mild cold symptoms we opted out of making that ascent. However, I am including our planned ascent up Mount Ritter, that I still intend on making in the summer of 2015 (hopefully germ free). The below is just a rough game plan based on research I did on the web and in no means is this route definitive.