The high country of Yosemite National Park consists of shiny meadows, granite domes, and surrealistic crags. But the mountains surrounding Tuolumne Meadows seem to consist of slag piles, with one notable exception: Mount Conness. This mountain dominates the view to the northeast with an impressive Big Wall on its southwest face. The moderate West Ridge, a very aesthetic route, frames the left side of this wall.
The approach starts from the parking area west of Lembert Dome in Tuolumne Meadows. Take the Dog Lake Trail north to the Young Lakes Trail, which is followed around Ragged Peak and ending at the lowest of the Young Lakes. Hike cross-country across the headwaters of Conness Creek to the base of the west face of Mount Conness.
The West Ridge starts by climbing the left side of the small crescent-shaped ramp at the far right-hand base of the face and continues to the crest of the far right-hand rib, the West Ridge. Follow the rib to the summit, keeping close to the edge of the great southwest face. The descent is simple: head south from the summit over blocks to the large plateau that is to the southeast, where a good use trail leads back to Young Lakes.
Proficient climbers have climbed this route in one long day from Tuolumne Meadows, but it is much more pleasant to take the time to enjoy a timberline camp before climbing the route.
Permits: Yosemite National Park requires a wilderness permit to camp overnight. A free permit can be obtained in person at the Wilderness Center in Tuolumne Meadows. Reservations can be made by contacting the Wilderness Office (see below).
Guidebook:The High Sierra: Peaks, Passes, and Trails, Second Edition, by R.J. Secor. The Mountaineers, Seattle, 1999, $29.95.
Contact: Yosemite National Park,(209) 372-0740; www.nps.gov/yose/