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No. 28 Crater Mountain (9,172') California

This guide is based on a Sage article by Bob Michael.

Topo Map: Lee Vining 7½
Coordinates: Lat 37 52 41 Lon 119 00 20
Trip Stats: unknown


From Lee Vining drive south on 395 to the intersection of State highway 120. Three miles east of the road to the south shore of Mono Lake, turn south off 120 on a fairly good dirt road into a nice Jeffrey pine forest east of Mono Craters. drive a short distance farther SW, stopping at about 7350', where the combination of steepness and loose ground makes the going iffy.


The route up the NE flank of Crater Mountain soon turns into an exhausting, character-building slog kicking steps into loose, sliding volcanic sand and gravel. Where possible, steer towards clumps of pines because the needle duff make a thatch that sort of holds this grunge together. Soon you arrive at the 8,800' saddle between Crater and the bump to its north. Continue south up to the "crater" rim.


"The summit area is science-fiction surrealist; a slight central depression floored by light gray gravel, as neatly dressed as in a Zen rock garden, is rimmed by castellated broken gray crags scattered about like stage props for Wagner's Ring of the Niebelungen. Chunks of beautiful black obsidianglass lie all about. I've never seen a summit anything like it. The highest crag is steep cl 2+ on its east side, very rotten; lots of big sharp rocks are ready to come down. But once on top, we had a hard time leaving; we looked across Mono Lake's blue saucer to where we had hiked the day before. The view of the grotesque volcanic land-forms to the north and south was backdropped by the Sierras and Whites."

Bob Michael

Sierra Club Angeles Chapter Hundred Peaks Lower Peaks Sierra Peaks Ski Mountaineers
Desert Peaks Section, Angeles Chapter, Sierra Club
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Updated: February 9, 2012