High Sierra | California

Alpine Climbing in the High Sierra

Season

The best season is late spring to early fall

Nearest city

Find accommodations in Bishop or Bridgeport, CA

Duration

1-3 days

Skill level

Intermediate to advanced

Explore High Sierra summits that rival the European Alps

Attention all alpine lovers! Located in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the majestic High Sierra offers some of the best alpine rock climbs you’ll find anywhere in the world. Huge walls, jagged ridges, pristine granite, and stunning scenery await. Climb impressive 14,000-foot peaks with a private guide and see for yourself why the High Sierra has earned its rightful reputation as one of the best wilderness climbing areas in California.

Most Popular Itineraries

A Customized Day of Climbing with a Private Guide

From $230 per person · Full-day

Get your first taste of alpine climbing or set your sights on a classic route, the choice is yours in the High Sierra. This area holds a lifetime of climbing — whether it’s an escape from the crowds on the Sawtooth Ridge in the north or a coveted and classic Mt. Whitney route in the south, let a certified guide customize your day of rock climbing to suit your objectives.

Mt Whitney's East Face and East Buttress

From $325 per person · 1-3 days

Standing almost 15,000 feet tall — the highest peak in the lower 48 states — Mt. Whitney is the towering jewel of the Sierra Nevada. The East Face is considered one of the 50 Classic Climbs of North America and is a great intro to technical alpine rock climbing. The East Buttress is a more direct line of ascent for more advanced climbers, full of towers, pillars and gendarms. No matter how you reach the summit, let a guide show you the route best suited to your skills and tick this famous mountain off your bucket list.

Climb the Incredible Hulk

From $910 per person · 3 days

The Incredible Hulk is a striking granite outcropping that begs to be climbed. For advanced climbers, the Red Dihedral route is the one that gets the most attention — a dozen pitches of sustained 5.10 climbing with scenic views over the Sierras. Best done as a three-day adventure, this experience is made complete with a couple of nights of High Sierra camping.

Mt. Humphreys Climbing

From $325 per person · 1-2 days

Just a hair shy of 14,000 feet, Mt. Humphreys is the High Sierra training ground for bigger aspirations like the Matterhorn or Mont Blanc. Tackling one of two routes — the East Ridge or the NE Couloir — this is a physically demanding big day out and recommended only for experienced climbers. Prepare for an evening of car camping and get an early start for a full 12-14 hour day of climbing.

Things you need to know

Covid measures in the High Sierra

57hours is committed to providing safe outdoor adventure experiences. We require all guides using our platform to have a COVID-19 safety plan and to make the details of that plan accessible to travelers. In most cases, group sizes will be reduced, guides will avoid overcrowded locations, and other safety measures will be met depending on the location and activity.

We also expect clients to respect local regulations and take measures to protect themselves, guides and the communities they’re travelling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in High Sierra, please refer to the California State website.

Why should I book with 57hours?

With us, it’s all play and no work for you! 57hours is an open platform that connects you with trained and certified outdoor adventure professionals all over the world. Using our tech-savvy, we make it super easy to find and book adventures worth tackling, with guides worth booking, all gathered from the first-hand experiences of the locals who adventure in these amazing locations

Why should I go rock climbing?

Rock climbing is more than just a sport; it’s problem solving on-the-go. It’s a balance of intuition and fluidity of movement. The fun comes from the possibilities — each route with a variety of options and only a fraction of them leading to success. When you finally master a climb, after hours of practice, it transcends mere sport and is akin to art.

What’s included?

What you get in this adventure:

    • An experienced, local rock-climbing guide with extensive knowledge of the area
    • Permit and access fees
    • Camping fees
    • All technical climbing gear

What’s not included:

    • Personal equipment (such as clothing, boots, personal climbing gear)
    • Transportation
    • Lodging costs
    • Meals
    • Medical or trip cancellation insurance

Technical gear list

All technical climbing equipment will be provided by your guiding service. However, if you have your own gear, feel free to bring it. You’ll need:

    • Helmet
    • Harness with a locking carabiner, belay device, and chalk bag
    • Rock shoes or boots
    • Rock or waterproof gloves
    • Ropes
    • Climbing hardware (quickdraws, cam devices, stoppers, etc.)
    • Sleeping bags and tents

What do I need to bring?

Your full equipment list will be determined with your guide after booking. Here’s a list of the equipment we suggest you bring:

    • Daypack large enough to carry all the items listed (around a 35L bag)
    • Water bottle or hydration pack
    • The food you can eat on-the-go
    • Toiletries (sunscreen, hand sanitizer, bug spray, toilet paper, etc.)
    • Sunglasses
    • Camera — optional

Clothing list:

    • Base layers and climbing apparel
    • Liner socks and medium thickness socks
    • Softshell
    • A waterproof jacket like GORE-TEX with hood
    • Waterproof pants
    • Softshell jacket
    • Puffy jacket
    • Neck gaiter
    • Wooly hat
    • 2 pairs of gloves

Dress comfortably and for the weather in clothes you can move in. We suggest bringing clothing appropriate for the season. Remember that the temperature drops during the night, as well as with altitude, so make sure to pack extra layers.

What if I’ve never climbed before?

The High Sierra is an alpine environment, so if you’ve never climbed before, we recommend taking an introduction to climbing course or spending a day with a guide learning the basics prior to booking this adventure.

The advanced climbs, like those on Mt. Whitney, Incredible Hulk and Mt. Humphreys, are not for first-time climbers, but if you have some experience and have topped a minimum of 5.7, there are High Sierra routes that you can successfully complete with the help of a guide.

Let a guide plan the perfect day and focus on safety, so you can focus on having fun.

What does a typical day look like?

Your climbing itinerary will be fully customized to match your skill level and objectives. You and your guide will discuss route selection, skills development, and whatever else you’d like to focus on. From there, your guide will plan the perfect day tailored just for you.

Depending on your objectives, full days may start earlier and end later, but in general, your day will look like this:

    • 8:30 am: Meet your guide at the guide’s recommended location
    • 9:00 am: Gear up and carpool to the crag
    • 9:30 am: Start climbing your objective for the day
    • 12:30 am – 1:00 pm: Lunch (bring snacks and plenty of water)
    • 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm: Build upon techniques developed in the morning session and explore additional terrain as time allows
    • 5:00 pm: Back to the cars for debriefing and high fives or camp under the High Sierra stars

How fit do I need to be?

Alpine climbing in the High Sierra is for intermediate to experienced climbers that are physically fit, have strong mental stamina, and are capable of strenuous exercise for the entire duration of the chosen itinerary. The terrain is technical; you will be moving for a minimum of three hours on the rocks plus some additional hiking.

For advanced climbs like those on Mount Humphreys, you will spend a full 12-14 hours of adventuring on the day of the ascent. Multi-pitch climbing rope skills, including belaying and lead climbing are essential.

What is the minimum age requirement?

  • If you are older than 18, you’re good to go.
  • Climbers younger than 18 can go climbing on a case-by-case basis but must be in the presence of a parent or legal guardian.

If your group has climbers under the age of 18, contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.

What about group sizes and pricing?

  • For a day of private guides climbing in High Sierra adventure, the max client to guide ratio is 4:1 and cost is per person.
  • For advanced alpine climbing on Mt. Whitney, Incredible Hulk or Mt. Humphreys, the max client to guide ratio is 2:1. For a one-day ascent of Mt. Humphreys, the client to guide ratio is 1:1.
  • Costs per person will decrease as the group grows for private tours, so it’s the perfect opportunity to climb with friends and family.
  • Climbing days can be arranged for larger groups. Contact us to make arrangements.

What about bad weather?

As the saying goes, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad preparation.” You can expect your guides to be fully prepared for anything. Inclement weather can always get in the way of climbing, but your guide will know the best spots to move to if the weather takes a turn.

On the rare occasion of truly bad weather, your instructor will present you with suitable alternatives. The most common practice is to move to a nearby location if it exists, or to reschedule your climbing for a more favorable day.

If climbing is not possible on your scheduled day and no options presented are viable, you will be issued a full refund.

Cancellation policy

With 57hours, you benefit from both our own cancellation policy as well as that of the individual guiding service that delivers your adventure. All policies regarding cancellation will be clearly laid out by your guide after booking your adventure, but rest assured that our own cancellation policy will work on top of what is provided by your guide.

For this adventure, 57hours offers a Moderate Cancellation Policy, which states:
If Client cancels the Booking anytime prior to thirty (30) calendar days in advance of the trip contemplated by the booking, Client is entitled to a full refund. For cancellations fourteen (14) to twenty nine (29) calendar days in advance, Client is entitled to a refund in the amount of fifty percent (50%) of the total amount paid when Booking. For cancellations zero (0) to thirteen (13) days in advance, the Client is not entitled to any refund.

For more information on terms and conditions, please visit our Terms of Service page.

Getting there and meeting location

To get to High Sierra, most people fly into Reno-Tahoe International Airport. It takes little over two hours to get from Reno to Bridgeport, CA, which is right next to the High Sierra. You can take a shuttle or rent a car to get there.

Every adventure has a different starting point because of different access roads to the destination. Once you and your guide agree on the details of your itinerary, your guide will suggest the best place to meet. From there, you’ll head to the crag and begin your day of climbing!

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