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    Mt. Ritter

    Mt. Ritter

    Mount Ritter is classic.  It’s the highest peak in the Ritter Range, which includes Banner Peak and the Minarets.  R.J. Secor says, “Mount Ritter is perhaps the most prominent peak in the High Sierra, and can even be seen from certain summits in the southern portion of the range.”

    Mt. Ritter on the left, Mt. Banner on the right

    The beginning of July was kicked off by a crew of six (3 clients, 2 guides, 1 intern) tackling Ritter in a three-day trip.  Jed and Bernd were our fearless leaders, guiding us through not only the objective and subjective hazards of the mountains but the initial chaos of Mammoth Ski Resort to get us on the shuttle and on our way to Agnew Meadows.

    Away from the crowds and into the wilderness!  Ah, sweet bliss.

    On the approach, headed down into the San Joaquin Valley

    Day 1 was an 8-mile approach to Ediza lake where we set up camp.  We passed down through the San Joaquin Valley and then up past beautiful falls, past Shadow Lake and finally to Ediza.

    Clients (from left to right) Tommy, Art, and Todd with the falls behind.  Mammoth mountain is visible left.
    The Minarets, Mt. Ritter, and Mt. Banner from Shadow Lake (right to left)

    We got to camp in the middle of the afternoon and took advantage of relaxing underneath the incredible Minarets, Ritter and Banner.  Dinner was a fabulous Thai dish with lots of fresh vegetables courtesy of our illustrious guide Jed.  Then early to bed, early to rise. 

    The view from our campsite on Ediza lake.  The Minarets in the middle, Mt. Banner on the right.  Tons of snow!

    We left camp by 5:30am and made great time, stopping to take pictures of the morning light painting the peaks before us.

    Morning in the range of light. Ritter on the left, Banner on the right.

     Our route was dictated by many things including snow conditions.  We opted for the Southeast Glacier which ascends the left side (looking at Ritter from Ediza lake).  The snow was perfect for kicking in steps and efficient climbing.  Although we were prepared with crampons, we didn’t need to bother with them.

    Looking down the snowfield from where we came.  Lake Ediza is the snowy patch on the right side of the photo just under the mountains in shade.  It was still mostly frozen over.

    Up and up we go.

    Most all of the climbing was on snow, a rarity in July.  We made constant steady progress toward the summit and only had to climb a 40-foot section of rock.  We short-roped through the rock section and the steeper snowfield that followed.

    Looking out after the rock field.  You just can’t hate the views the Sierras have to offer.

    The final snowfield before the summit.  The summit is actually on the left, even though it doesn’t look like it from this perspective.  (You just can’t capture the distance with a camera!)

    Art, Tommy, and Jed shortroping at the top of the rock field.

    Jed, Art and Tommy just before the descent with Banner in the background.  We did it! 

    We summited with a whooping 9 people on the summit.  (A solo climber and two skiers were ahead of us.)  Extensive views of the Sierra abounded and we could even see the back side of Half Dome.  It’s really something to be on the summit of a mountain that dominates in height like Mt. Ritter.  There is nothing taller than Ritter to the north until you reach Mt. Shasta!  

    All in all it was a great trip, with a smooth, straightforward climb to a classic summit.