Mount Ritter

Mount Ritter

Mount Ritter in Sierra Nevada Mountains and Ediza Lake

When the electrified chaos of the city becomes too loud, it is necessary to escape to nature. John Muir waxed poetic on the subject, and I would tend to agree with his waxings. A visit to Mount Ritter, whose jagged profile can be seen from his eponymous trail in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Central California, is the perfect antidote to urban anxiolytics. Walk the trails to the mountain’s base in the peaceful tranquility of knowing it’s just you, your thoughts, and the wildness of a wilderness that yawns deep with complexities that are impossible to fathom. Then, climb a challenging mountain that will test your endurance, your technical skills, and your willpower, only to reward you one thousand-fold from your view at the summit. Like the lesser peaks in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Mount Ritter is a marvel of nature, the sort of mountain to be revered and started at in awe. Because indeed, it is worthy of those things.

Reflection of Mount Ritter in Garnet Lake on the John Muir Trail in the Ansel Adams Wilderness in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California

Mount Ritter rises from the Ritter Range in the Ansel Adams Wilderness with a peak elevation of 13,149 feet (4,008 m), but, being in the High Sierras, its prominence is just(!) 3,957 feet (1,206 m). While some climb the mountain in a single day, most enjoy two or three days to complete the trip down to Mount Ritter’s base, up to the summit, and back. There is a bit of a hike just to get to the base of the mountain by Ediza Lake, but the views are much more breathtaking than the difficulty of the hike. Reaching the summit of Mount Ritter can be more complicated. Be prepared for snow, check the conditions carefully, and have a contingency plan in place for unexpected ice climbing. Most people take the Southeast Glacier route, which is the route John Muir took. It is not easy, but from Mount Ritter’s summit, you’ll be re-energized by the view of the Sierras, stretching north and south – like view the range from an airplane – and punctured by lakes that look like gemstones in the delicate forests.

Garnet Lake and Mount Ritter on the John Muir Trail in Ansel Adams Wilderness in the Sierra Mountains of California

The best time to visit is in the summer. If you have to park in nearby Mammoth; there’s a shuttle from Mammoth Mountain Lodge from Red’s Meadow that can take you to Agnew Meadows Campground. (If you’re hungry on the way back, the bacon cheeseburgers at Red’s Meadow are manna after a long day of hoofing it in the High Sierras.) Camping is allowed almost everywhere in the Ansel Adams Wilderness, with the exception of some areas that are closed for habitat restoration. If you do choose to set up camp in the warmer months, be warned that despite California’s reputation for humane culinary taste, the mosquitoes most certainly indulge in carnivorous delights of the human variety.

Country: United States

State: California

Mountain Range: Ritter Range, Sierra Nevada

Elevation: 13,149 feet

First Ascent: 1872 by John Muir


Mount Ritter and Banner Peak reflected in Garnet Lake | Don Paulson / Jaynes Gallery /
Waterfalls below Mount Ritter and Banner Peak | Don Paulson / Jaynes Gallery /
Waterfall below Mount Ritter | Don Paulson / Jaynes Gallery /
Mount Ritter and Banner Peak reflected in Garnet Lake | Don Paulson / Jaynes Gallery /

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