Madera County Highpoint Trip Report

Mount Ritter

Date: October 1-3, 1999
Author: Adam Helman

A few additional comments to enhance Edward Earl's description of Mt. Ritter's ascent. Mt. Ritter has the greatest prominence (3,800 feet) of any peak in the Sierra Nevada except for Mt. Whitney. As such Mt. Ritter presents the image to a distant observer of an impressive landmark.

Mt. Ritter is a long extinct volcano which has existed since well before the Sierra Nevada range appeared. Thus it sports much igneous and metamorphic rock with darker colors than the vast majority of high Sierra peaks.

During the ascent, and particularly in the steep chute leading from the southeast glacier to the summit ridge, there were beautiful examples of green slate, possibly with olivine (a magnesium silicate), often with razor-sharp edges which made for interesting hand holds. Interspersed also were examples of granite with lighter shades yet with bands of pink quartz of thickness from one-half to two inches and up to several feet long.

The summit vista was one of the most spectacular I have seen, largely due to the central location of Mt.Ritter relative to Yosemite and the high Sierra fourteeners in the south and southeast. To the west Mt. Lyell tantalized us for a future ascent. As the highest peak in Yosemite Nat'l Park, it is of similar stature and (modest) difficulty as Mt.Ritter.

Somehow I managed to get behind on my hydration and the resulting severe headache nearly prevented me from continuing to the trailhead upon descent to our high camp. On summit day I ended up drinking 22 cups of water on the trail - which is odd considering that Edward got along on much less and he is larger than I. Late that night he awoke "extremely thirsty" and drank untold quantities of water.