Climb Matterhorn Peak via the East Couloir

Rate this Adventure Matterhorn Trailhead

Made famous by Jack Kerouac in his novel "Dharma Bums", Matterhorn Peak is considered by many to be the start of the High Sierra. No peak in the Sierras to the north is taller, and the Matterhorn provides breathtaking views of the Sawtooth Ridge and the Yosemite, Carson-Iceberg, and the Hoover Wildernesses. In winter it is one of the most popular ski-mountaineering peaks in the Sierras.

Matterhorn Peak in the northeastern Yosemite Wilderness is an SPS Emblem Peak and many regard it as the beginning of the High Sierra, as there are no peaks higher to the north in the Sierra Nevada.

There are many routes to the summit, but the shortest and most direct (though not easiest) begins at the Twin Lakes Horse Creek Trailhead at the Mono Village Resort, aka "RV Hell", near Bridgeport, CA. It's a 5 mile march to the summit with 5,280' of elevation gain.

The route follows the Horse Creek Trail along the Horse Creek drainage for about 3.5 miles, where you'll be able to see (and hear) the drainage from the Matterhorn Glacier on the granite cliffs to your right. A half-mile or so past and up from where the drainage meets Horse Creek, you'll scramble up the ridgeline to the east of the drainage and through the trees towards the small lake, which is on the topo map. This hikers trail may be obviously marked.

There are several good campsights on the hills and granite ledges above the lake. To reach the glacier, continue up the ridgeline to the east of the drainage. The East Couloir is the obvious gap to the left of the peak. Contour across the glacier towards the Couloir, and it's a loose scramble and slog to the top of the Couloir.

From the top of the Couloir, you can take the class 3 East Ridge ridge to the summit or you can continue around to the Southern aspect for easier terrain.

Pack List

  • Good hiking/trail shoes
  • Tent
  • Season-appropriate clothing
  • Ice-axe/crampons if winter
  • Food
  • Permit for Hoover Wilderness if camping, which can be gotten at the ranger station 1 mi. south of Bridgeport on 395.Jack Kerouac's "Dharma Bums"
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RT Distance 10 Miles
Elevation Gain 6000 Feet
Activities Survival, Snowboarding, Chillin, Camping, Photography, Skiing, Swimming, Snowshoeing, Hiking, Rock Climbing
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Year Round
Features
Easy Parking
Groups
Lake
River
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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