Saddlebag to Matterhorn Tour
- Generally advanced mountain terrain with one steep pass (40 degrees)
- 23 miles in 3 days
- Cumulative gain, loss: +4900', -7300'
- Avg. Relief: 500'/mile
- Topos: Matterhorn Pk., Tuolumne Mdws. (15'); Matterhorn Pk., Dunderberg Pk., Tioga Pass (7.5')
This tour requires access to the east side of Tioga Pass. In a typical season, the east side of the pass
is accessible from Lee Vining by mid-spring. With an average elevation of just over 10000', this tour should
be ideal in mid- to late-spring. Due to the difference in elevation between the two trailheads, south-to-north
is recommended. There is a fee for parking at the northern Twin Lakes trailhead.
This tour starts at Tioga Pass Resort, near Tioga Lake, on the east side of Tioga Pass. Ski north along Lee
Vining Creek to Saddlebag Lake, and continue northwest towards the crest to Steelhead Lake, which is Camp 1.
From Steelhead Lake, head up northwards, staying east of the Sierra Crest to the summit of Excelsior Mtn.
Descend the northeast ridge of Excelsior's north summit, and then ski back around to the northwest, crossing
over to the west side of the Sierra Crest by Summit Lake. Continue northwest to the top of
Virginia Canyon, then ascend westward to the lake just east of Virginia Peak, which is Camp 2.
Horse Creek Pass and Matterhorn Peak; photo by Cathy Bianco
The Moynier book suggests continuing north from here to Twin Peaks, then skiing down the extremely steep bowl to
the north of Twin Peaks. One alternative to this is to take Stanton Pass, just south of Virginia Peak
(Secor's guide calls it class 3, and Roper's "Sierra High Route"
devotes about a page to this pass; basically you want to start well over towards Mt. Stanton when descending
the upper section of the steep west side), continuing northwest from there over the mild Horse Creek Pass, which is
halfway between Matterhorn Peak and Twin Peaks. Follow the drainage downhill from either one for a great long
descent all the way to the RV park at the west end of Twin Lakes.
An account of our 5/99 Saddlebag-to-Matterhorn trip
General info and disclaimer about backcountry skiing
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