Sequoia National Park – Alta & Panther Peaks
15 miles, 4700 ft
This was my first time to Sequoia and I have to say it is as enjoyable as Yosemite, with less people. We car-camped in the Sunset campground for 2 nights, planning on a long dayhike on Saturday and a few really nice short hikes to the Sherman Tree and Moro Rock on Sunday before leaving.
Our Saturday hike to Alta Peak was great. We drove down the Generals Highway through beautiful forests about 45 min to the trailhead at Wolverton. From there we took the Alta Peak trail. The first portion of the trail to Panther Gap is nice and not too steep (~ 500 ft / mile), but pretty.
At Panther Gap (~8500′) I suggested adding in a side ascent up to Panther Peak to the west. I hadn’t read anything about Panther Peak so just assumed it was some named bump, but in actuality it was a very enjoyable scramble to summit rocks with outstanding views.
If one wanted to show someone a hike that isn’t too difficult but gets away from people, gets in some scrambling, and shows some excellent views, I’d highly suggest Panther Peak. Round trip would be about 6 miles and 1600 ft gain.
From Panther, we descended back down east and continued along the trail as it wraps around the south side of Alta Peak.
After a few miles Tharps Rock came into view to the NE. I read about this rock in Bob Burd’s trip report and I wanted to climb it, but I would wait until after reaching Alta’s summit.
Having not been at high altitudes in a while, I was taking it easy and making sure I didn’t get too high too quickly. This worked pretty well and soon we veered north and were quickly approaching the summit.
Of course the summit had great views of the Sierra. Lots of domes and spires nearby too. Just a beautiful area right here in California’s backyard.
Tharps Rock was still calling me, so after a while I headed off the summit and back down a ways to veer off to the north side of the rock.
This was a lot of fun scrambling around with a bunch of 3rd class and some 4th and low 5th mixed in. I got to the base of the summit rocks on the north side and ran into a 12-15′ overhang. There was a few good holds, but I didn’t want to try without a helmet, so I turned around. A nice challenge to try out in the future.
After that, it was all downhill. We had to rush a little bit at first with bad weather moving toward us, but it eventually died out.
Can’t wait to come back!
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