Backpacking in the High Sierra


Backpacking, Sierras - Camp beneath Bear Creek Spire.

Camp beneath Bear Creek Spire.
Kurt Hicks

Join us for a unique trek through the heart of California's High Sierra, a place John Muir called the "Range of Light."

This trek starts near Bishop, CA, and takes us over three high passes (11,000+ feet) and into the stunning Little Lakes Valley, Piute basin, and French Canyon areas of the John Muir Wilderness Area. We vary on-trail trekking with cross-country travel, and trekkers will receive instruction in off-trail navigation as we cross the high talus fields and alpine meadows beneath impressive granite peaks like Bear Creek Spire, Mt. Dade, and many others. This is guaranteed to be a memorable trip for novice and advanced trekkers alike. The Sierra never disappoints. All meals are included while in the mountains.

Backpacking in the High Sierra


Backpacking, Sierras - Map reading below Bear Creek Spire.

Map reading below Bear Creek Spire. Kurt Hicks

We start our journey in Bishop, CA, where the group meets and the guide performs a gear check. We then drive to the trailhead for the Piute Pass Trail, about 17.8 miles from Bishop. On our first day, we gradually ascend five miles on a nice trail and cross 11,423-foot Piute Pass, where there is a splendid view of Humphreys Basin. The trail passes several stunning lakes and eventually meets Piute Creek, descending into a steep canyon before meeting the Pine Creek Pass Trail at Hutchinson Meadow.

We will then take the Pine Creek Pass Trail seven miles to 11,120-foot Pine Creek Pass, on the way ascending through picturesque French Canyon, with amazing views of the falls that drain the Royce Lakes above the canyon.

From Pine Creek Pass, the cross-country travel begins. We will start contouring northwest towards Honeymoon Lake, where we have a number of options that we can take to get down into the Little Lakes Valley, our exit route back into civilization. You will pass by a number of gem-like alpine lakes, including Chalfant Lake and Spire Lake, contouring around Mt. Julius Ceasar and Bear Creek Spire. We will eventually pick our way through this high alpine world and meet up with the trail that leads down the Little Lakes Valley, eventually reaching the Mosquito Flats Trailhead where our car waits to take us back to Bishop, about 36 miles away.

Backpacking in the High Sierra

Cost and Details

Private Pricing applies.

Max Ratio - 5:1 (Hiker:Guide)

Capacity - 10



Please contact the AAI office at 360-671-1505 (Toll Free: 1-800-424-2249) or email at [email protected] to arrange dates for this program.



Good physical condition


Program Cost Inclusions and Exclusions

Included in the program cost is all meals and snacks, group gear (stoves, cooking utensils, maps), park fees, and guide fee.

Excluded from the program cost is transportation from Bishop to the trailhead, any personal gear (tents, sleeping bags and pads, spoons, etc), hotel cost, tips, and any personal snacks you may wish to bring along.

Rental Equipment

For beginners and other climbers who do not have their own personal climbing equipment, we offer rental equipment.  The following items are available to rent in the Sierra:

  • helmets
  • harnesses
  • ice axes
  • crampons
  • ice tools
  • tents
  • avalanche gear (beacon/probe/shovel)
  • cooking gear (stove/pot/fuel)
  • snowshoes
  • backpacks


Please note that we do not rent boots, sleeping bags or sleeping pads in the Sierra; your best option if you need this gear for your course is to contact Wilson's East Side Sports in Bishop, CA, or to bring it with you to Lee Vining.  Regardless of what you need, please be sure to alert all parties of your rental needs as soon as possible.

Backpacking in the High Sierra

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