5 pitches / 800ft. High Sierra classic route. Scenic overlook of Mono Lake. Beautiful approach hike. Marmots.

From Highway 120 (Tioga Road) you can park at the lot just above Tioga Lake. Another mile up the road is the Yosemite entrance, so if you hit that, you've gone too far. Follow the trail around the south side of the lake and into Glacier Canyon. After about 2 miles you'll start scrambling on the NE side of the canyon to the Dana Plateau. Cairns should mark the way. Once on the Plateau head east towards Mono Lake where you'll find the Third Pillar.

Leave whatever you don't need safely stashed from the marmots and begin the scramble down talus and scree to the base of the Third Pillar. Follow the route or its variants culminating in “the best 5.9 pitch in the universe.” From the summit, you should be just around the rim from your gear. After a rest for some post climb recharge, start back down the way you came. From car to car, it took our party of 4 over 12 hours, so plan accordingly.

It was the best climb I’ve ever been a part of, due in part to our timing. We finished the climb just as the sun was setting and casting colors over the landscape. Moral was as high as you can expect, and we were prepared for a night hike, so that was of little concern.

Once you get back to the cars, drive down to Lee Vining and stop for a quick bite before hitting the road.

Pack List

  • Set of nuts and doubles for cams from .4" to 2" and a 3"
  • Food/water
  • Sunscreen
  • Layers for hiking and shade climbing at elevation
  • Camera
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Activities Hiking, Rock Climbing
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Summer
Features
Easy Parking
Forest
Lake
Picnic Area
River
Scenic

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