Betsy and I climbed Banner Peak and Mount Davis in June 2012. Here is our itinerary for this four-day trip.
Day 1 (Wednesday, June 6): Backpack from the trailhead by Silver Lake (7,215 ft) to camp at Thousand Island Lake (9,833 ft). We go 8 miles in 7 hours. Day 2 (Thursday, June 7): Climb Banner Peak (12,945 ft) in 13 hours. Day 3 (Friday, June 8): Climb Mount Davis (12,311 ft) in 10 hours. Day 4 (Saturday, June 9): Backpack out 8 miles in 5 hours.
Photos and commentary follow.
Day 1: Wednesday, June 6. Betsy starts backpacking up the Rush Creek Trail from the trailhead by Silver Lake. We pose for a photo with Carson Peak behind us. The steep railroad track behind us allows cablecars to move up and down to service the Rush Creek Hydroelectric System. We head for Clark Lakes at this trail junction and cross the Agnew Lake Dam. We climb up this left (southeast) side of Agnew Lake. The dam for the higher and bigger Gem Lake is above. Another steep railroad track goes up to that dam. Mount Ritter and Banner Peak come into view on the left as we get higher up on the day’s pack in. Betsy poses with Thousand Island Lake just beyond. We have a beautiful base camp for three nights by Thousand Island Lake with Banner Peak above.
Day 2: Thursday, June 7. Alpenglow is on Banner Peak at dawn. Betsy is ready to start the climb up Banner Peak. We hike with day packs to the col to the right (west) of the peak and then climb the glacier on the other side. Betsy nears the top of the glacier. Frozen Lake Catherine is far below. This is the view from the top of the glacier to the east. I climbed Banner Peak from that side in 1970 with Mary before we were married along with my climbing buddies Don McEachern and Mel Merrill. Betsy is ready to climb from the top of the glacier up the talus and rock face to the summit of Banner Peak. Betsy happily signs the summit register 🙂 I sign it too. This is the imposing north face of Mount Ritter, which was first climbed by John Muir in 1872. We had hoped to repeat that climb, but there is too much new snow on the route. Garnet Lake is to the east. Betsy glissades down the glacier but not very fast. Mount Davis is the bump above the snow in the upper right. We plan to climb it the next day.
Day 3: Friday, June 8. Betsy is ready to climb again. Today’s objective is Mount Davis, which is the high bump on the right end of the ridge above her. We retrace the first part of yesterday’s climb and then traverse a rock face to this snowfield. Betsy places a pile of rocks called a duck to help us find our way back across the rock face. We have a tedious stretch of talus to cross before getting to the easy snow on our way to Mount Davis. Betsy nears the top of Mount Davis. Betsy signs the summit register. Rugged High Sierra peaks are to the northwest. Thousand Island Lake where we are camped is to the east. We have a great view of Banner Peak and Mount Ritter to the southeast. The route of our climb the day before is clearly visible. Betsy is all smiles as she hikes down.
Day 4: Saturday, June 9. Betsy is ready to backpack out A lot of water is flowing out of Thousand Island Lake. Mammoth Mountain is the in the center to the southeast. We get back to the trailhead in good time (for us 🙂 ).