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You are here: Home : Hiking Last Updated on 07/30/2004    
Diff: Rating 8/10
Scenic: Rating 9/10
Tech: Rating 6/10
Mount Morrison
         East face from Convict Lake
Location: Sierra Nevadas, Inyo National Forest, California
Region: Sierras - Convict Lake
Wilderness: John Muir Wilderness
Total Distance: 8 Mi
Elevation Gain: 4,800 Ft
Season: June-Nov
Type: Out & Back
Start Elev: 7,650 Ft
Peak Elev: 12,277 Ft
Total Time: 7.9 hr
Time In: 4.75 hr
Time Out: 2.42 hr

Peak List Peak List
Peak Name Elevation
Mount Morrison 12,277 Ft

Hike added by
on 07/30/2004
Driving Directions
From Southern California, head north on Hwy 395 to about 35 miles past Bishop, CA. Make a left on the turnoff to Convict Lake and drive to the parking at the end of the road on the southeast side of Convict Lake.
From the parking at the end of the road to Convict Lake, head east-south-east through the brush up to the ridge top to the southeast. We headed up off trail and soon came upon a use trail that we followed more or less to the ridge right at the 4wd road fork. We tried to stay on the northeast side of the main drainage visible from the parking. At the top of the ridge is a 4wd road that splits into two roads. The right branch ends at the drainage that we tried to stay out of. The left branch goes up the rolling hill and deadends after a few hundred yards near a small ridge. We took the left branch up the hill to the small ridge. We followed this ridge (no trail, but brush is not an issue, it's mostly just cobble sized rocks and soil) which begins to trail off to the left. This seemed to take us a little out of the way but not bad, only maybe a few hundred feet and by following the ridge we avoided brush and elevation loss. At about the 2800m level we began to follow an intersecting ridge that went more to the right (due South). We got off the ridge when we saw the stream on our right (dry) make a bend to the right. We got on the creek bed and followed it for a little while and shortly arrived at a dry pond that looks like it's turning into a meadow. We continue on the creek and in a few hundred feet arrived at lake 3002m just northeast of hill 3085m(USGS Convict Lake 7.5' Quad). At the lake we were a little unclear on the route to the peak, we took a break to examine the map and the route. Looking due west from the lake 3002m to the Morrison peak we saw a small talus fan at the base of a slight, sparsely vegetated steep valley headed toward the peak. At the top of this valley (about 250m above the lake, just below the rocky portion to the peak) is a green vegetated small tilted bowl-like area with a green blob in the middle of a small rocky area just above the green bowl. If you look at this small green blob in the middle of the rocky area, you can see the use trail to the left of the green blob. You can also see the use trail lower down near the top of the talus fan to the left of a small drainage channel in the proximal fan. When viewed from the lake, the rocky portion to the peak looks unhikeable, it looks more like you'd be rock climbing to get to the peak. When you actually get to it, it doesn't look as steep and the trail and rock holds allow for passage without any climbing gear. We headed up the talus fan and found ourselves on the small use trail. We followed the steep trail to the green area, to the rocky area above and then to the beginning of the rocky ascent to the peak. Here the use trail bends to the south to the slight thumb on the Quad shown by the 3380m topo line (due west of the large 3280m thumb). We took another break here. Now the use trail begins a steep rocky ascent to the peak. The use trail is fairly easy to follow, we saw at least 3 rock ducks along the way up the rocky portion. There is one portion that is maybe between the 3400m and 3500m topo lines that the trail kindof seems to disappear into the rocks and you must ascend a short and easy class 3 portion of rock. There are many ways over this portion, just pick the rock that looks the easiest. We ended up in a small 15' chute at one point with easy climbing, sure footed and good holds. I'm not one who likes rock climbing and this was not a problem. We picked up the use trail again and it leads steeply to the peak. At one point the use trail becomes so steep and loose that it is easier to stay on the rock and ascend because on the trail you loose most of each step by sliding back down in the soft alluvium. When you see the dark colored vertical shale sticking out of the mountain above you, you are almost to the peak.

For the return trip, we followed the use trail down and tried to stay on it where we lost it on the way up but couldn't. We went down a different portion of rock than we went up, it was maybe difficult class 2, easy class 3. Above the 3380m thumb, we found ourselves tailing off to the right and we cut across the rock back down to the left and met up with the use trail again. At the base of the talus fan, we started down along the first ridge we came to and took it until we dropped into the main creek (dry). We rockhopped down in this for a little ways and then cut off to the right back onto the west side of the ridge that we had ascended. Just after we got out of the creekbed we saw 2 unopened 40 pound bags of softener salt laying on the ground. How they got there we don't know. We continued across the apex of the small ridge back to the road we ascended on and took it back to the 4wd road junction. Just above the junction to the left of the hill-road is a patch of greenery. As we walked by, maybe about 12 deer jumped out of the bushes and ran over the ridge. At the junction we headed down the brushy slope back to the van and came upon 1 more deer.
We started at 8:50am at the Convict Lake parking. We arrived at lake 3002m at about 10:30am and got on the peak at 1:35pm. We left the peak at 2:20pm, were back to the 3380m thumb at 3:05pm, near the lake at 3:30pm and back at the parking at 4:45pm. We could have cut the ascent time by about 30 minutes if we were sure of the route we were taking. The descent time could have been cut by about 30 min too but we just took our time.
Trail Condition
The route above the 3380m thumb is mostly class 2 to easy class 3, it is steep. The limestone rocks break easily and so the use trail becomes marked with rock fragments from people walking on them. There are good hand and food holds all the way up. There was not one portion that I was uneasy about due to exposure or poor holds, it's a nice route. A couple handholds broke and many of the rocks are loose. The trail from just above lake 3002m to the peak is all steep. The portion above the 3380m thumb is steeper and rockier with no vegetation.
Forest Details
It feels like a cool desert hike. There are very few trees out here. Lots of sagebrush and other knee-high-or-less brush. Deer paths are carved between a lot of the brush.
The limestone provides a nice sandpaper like grip.
Notes about this hike report
This peak gives a great view. The views to the east and south are quite scenic and quite worth it. We came upon no snow. We saw only distant snow patches. We didn't see anybody else out here but 3 groups had signed the book the day before. I had shorts on and no gaiters. Got a little scratched up from the brush just above the parking lot. After the ridge above the parking lot is attained, brush is not an issue but gaiters would have been nice especially on the descent to keep the rocks out of the boots.

On the maps below, the red path is the route we took up, the blue path is the route we took down.
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