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A Visual Journey to the Ritter Range

By: Gabriel Taylor + Save to a List

If you have ever been to Mammoth Mountain before and looked out NE, it's impossible to miss the Ritter Range standing tall in the distance. It's stapled as a super popular range due to it being so close to Mammoth, but not many venture to the top. Mt. Ritter is the tallest peak within the range as well as the entire Ansel Adams Wilderness, stretching out to 13,150 feet tall while Banner (to the right) comes in a close second at 12,942 feet tall. 

Given I have grown up my entire life riding Mammoth, I couldn't resist packing my bags, gathering the boys, and heading out to summit one of these meta-volcanic kings before the snow blankets the trails. We started the 5 1/2 hour drive from Huntington Beach on a Thursday night and posted up our car at the trail head for the night. As soon as the sun came up, we were off from Agnew Meadows. Hiking past beautiful Olaine and Shadow Lake, finally reaching our destination for the first night at the NE shore of Lake Ediza. There we slept under the stars, snapped a few pictures of the Milky Way, and rested for another day of climbing.   

The next morning, bright and early, we set off to summit the range and try to shoot for the summit of Mt. Ritter. We climbed just west of Mt. Ritter where the grade wasn't as steep, later to find ourselves forever scrambling over a sea of rocks. All water seems to disappear pretty quickly until you reach one of the glaciers higher up, so bring plenty with you. 

As we were starting to zone in on the peak of Mt. Ritter, around 12,500ft, we could see a lot of dark weather coming in from the North. Unfortunately, we made the executive decision to not climb any further given we had zero equipment for a climb down in rain, snow, and lightening. So we cracked our summit beers, ate some snacks, and safely proceeded to descend down the mountain. We reached our camp in the rain, made dinner, drank some whiskey, and reminisced on the day. 

This was our first trip trying to summit something this big and even though we didn't fully reach the summit, the journey will forever be branded in our brains and the lessons we learned will forever be put to use. 'Tis all about the journey. We'll be back next summer.... or maybe this winter???? Stay tuned. 

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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