Climb Columbine Peak's NE Ridge

15 Miles Round Trip - 5000 ft gain - Out-and-Back Trail

South Lake Wildflower Trail - Search Nearby - Added by Evan Thomas

Incredibe scenery throughout this trip. Traverses across beautiful Dusy Basin with many lovely alpine lakes and expansive views. Incredible vantage points to take in the Palisades and Black Divide. Moderate, very fun scramble~15-16 miles round trip and just shy of 5000' of combined gain, Class 3, 12,662' peak. Duration: 1 Day. Or overnight, with plenty of beautiful lakes to choose from for camp.

Directions

This Bishop Pass Trail starts by South Lake outside Bishop, CA. You'll want to take Line Street, which is the 168, West out of Bishop. Approximately 14 miles up, you'll want to merge left towards South Lake. This junction is well-signed if you keep an eye out for it. Head the rest of the way up until the road dead-ends in the overnight hiker parking.

The Approach

Your first goal along the way to Columbine Peak is to get to Bishop Pass. This is a 12,000 ft pass about 5 miles from the trailhead. It passes by beautiful Long Lake and Saddlerock Lake, as well as some other small pretty lakes. It's very scenic most of the way. Once you get to Bishop Pass, the route turns into easy cross-country across Dusy Basin, but first, stop and rest, and soak in the wonderful views. Take note where Columbine Peak is using your topo map or check out Google Earth beforehand. It's pretty easy to spot, though, being just right of Isosceles Peak. Your next goal is to get to the pass between Isosceles and Columbine, which is called Isosceles Pass. We did this by heading to Lake 11,388 and skirting its western shore, then contouring towards the pass where the boulder hopping begins to get to the pass itself. Be careful through here, some of these large boulders are loose. Alternatively, an early season ascent may require ice axe and crampons here. Now that you reached Isosceles Pass, you're ready to climb the NE ridge of Columbine!

The Climb

The climb up the NE ridge is pretty straightforward. You can either stay left of the ridge itself, keeping the climb at mostly Class 2, with the occasional easy Class 3. Or, you can try to stay true to the ridge, which can be a difficult, blocky Class 3 in spots with maybe even a class 4 move here and there. It's real easy to move left onto the gentler slopes at any time if the climbing gets to be a bit too much on the ridge itself. The summit has incredible views of the Palisades and the Black Divide. Most striking is the summit “diving board”, which I think might be the actual highpoint. To return, simply retrace your steps.

Chow Time

There is a cafe at Saddlebag Lake that is pretty good from what I remember eating there 10+ years ago. But, the Tuolumne Grill is probably a slightly better bet, with yummy burgers and fries. You can also head back down the canyon to the Whoa Nelli Deli at the Mobile station. Yep, you heard right, at the gas station! This place is famous and they really do have some yummy food. The fish tacos are famous.

Tags

Camping
Photography
Backpacking
Hiking
Lake
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Details

15 Miles
5000 ft elevation gain
Out-and-Back Trail

Stay Nearby

South Lake Road

Table Mountain (Inyo)

Bishop, California

Bishop Park Group

Big Pine, California

Big Pine Canyon

Big Pine, California

Upper Sage Flat

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Beautiful area, amazing scenery, great climb. Definitely need to revisit one day!