Climb Columbine Peak's NE Ridge

Rate this Adventure Yosemite South Lake Wildflower Trail

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

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.

Pack List

Suggestions for Partial Pack List

  • Hiking Boots
  • Ice Axe, Crampons may be required for early season ascent
  • Trekking Poles, Optional
  • Food/Water
  • Some warm layers, wind layer
  • 10 Essentials
  • Camera
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Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:




Trail Type:



15 Miles

Elev. Gain:

5000 Feet



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almost 2 years ago

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

almost 2 years ago

Added by Evan Thomas

Avid explorer of the Eastern Sierra and Mojave Desert, with the occasional road trip to more distant locales. Love to hike, climb, cycle, dirt bike and have recently gotten very much into photography, especially the night sky. Staying active and living a healthy lifestyle is basically what my wife and I are all about. Cheers, Evan.

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