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Emeric Pass (unofficial)

Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2016 4:45 pm
by wildhiker
TITLE: Unofficial Emeric Pass

Unofficial "Emeric Pass" (my name - not named on map) connects Emeric Lake (connects to Fletcher Creek trail) in the Cathedral Range of the Yosemite Wilderness with the unnamed lake 9637 in the Echo Creek drainage to the north, and then ultimately to Nelson Lake, where you can pick up a good trail to Tuolumne Meadows.

Class 2 over the pass proper due to steep slopes, micro route finding, and some scrambling; class 1 for the northern cross-country route extension from Lake 9637 to Nelson Lake.

Emeric Pass is in the Yosemite National Park Wilderness at coordinates 37.7825 degrees north latitude and -119.3867 degrees west longitude. HST Map

ELEVATION: Approximately 9800 feet.

Tenaya Lake


On the map below, trails are solid lines and the Emeric Pass cross-country route is a dotted line.
Here are directions for the pass going from Emeric Lake north. I hiked this route on September 6, 2016. A use trail runs through the meadows and along the lake shore around the east, north, and west sides of Emeric Lake. Leave this use trail at the north corner of Emeric lake to start the cross-country route to Emeric Pass.
P1110983+EmericPass from meadow by lake.jpg
Head up the grassy slope with some rocks north of Emeric Lake to the trees that mark a ravine (dry) that splits the solid granite slope.
P1110988+start of route to EmericPass up ravine from lake.jpg
Head up this ravine (steep) following the line of trees along the edge of solid granite approximately 15 minutes to where an obvious wide forested bench heads up left (northwest). Just before this point, I had to walk up a steep slab, made easier by the big feldspar knobs to rest boots on. There might be an easier route here at the top of the ravine by staying on the lower edge of the ravine. I stayed on the upper side of the ravine against the solid granite.
P1110990+looking back to EmericLake from top of ravine.jpg
Ascend northwest up the forested bench easily over low-angle slabs and mixed broken rock and dirt. I stayed close to the lower side of the bench, partly for the views.
P1110993+typical terrain on forested bench leading to EmericPass.jpg
Eventually, the bench gets steeper with big boulders, but you can pick your way around them. I saw deer prints and possible boot prints on this bench.
P1110994+typical terrain on forested bench leading to EmericPass.jpg
Views get better and better as you near the pass.
P1110992+MountClark over EmericLake from bench route to EmericPass.jpg
Close to the pass, the bench narrows down to a flat dirt floored linear feature about 20 feet wide. On the right (north) side of this narrowed bench is a cliff face about 20 feet high with the pass ridge on top of it. You need to get up there. Where the bench constricts to a short narrow section about 3 feet wide, just beyond and right above you see three dead pine trunks on the ridge top. They mark the low spot of the pass.
P1110996+near top of bench route to EmericPass.jpg
On your right, you can scramble up a diagonal joint system across the cliff to the top. There are hand holds. If you miss this joint system, the main bench continues flat and sandy about 100 feet beyond the constriction and then appears to end in a cliff.
P1110997+final scramble from bench route to EmericPass low point by three dead pines.jpg
Once you've scrambled up to the cliff top by the three dead pines, twenty feet of walking on granite slabs takes you to the apparent low point of the pass. It took me one hour to reach the pass from Emeric Lake. The view is great!
P1120007+three dead pines from low point of EmericPass.jpg
P1120001+lake northwest of EmericPass.jpg
A route directly northwest and downslope from this low point of the pass is steep and cliffy. Instead, head southwest up the ridge top with easy slab walking, gaining a bit of elevation, until you reach an obvious ravine turning right (northeast) and heading diagonally down slope. This ravine is lined with mountain hemlock trees.

Follow this ravine steeply down along the cliffy edge of the solid granite. The grade moderates as it gets lower and onto more forested slopes. Follow the obvious drainage all the way down this slope through the densest, tallest trees to the head of the meadow at the east end of Lake 9637. There are other ways down the slope as well from the top of the ravine that stay further west - one had ducks. But the ravine is the most direct route. Lake 9637 is very deep - surprising for a meadow and forest fringed lake.
P1120011+EmericPass from NW, route from trees on left diagonal to right up treed ravine to top.jpg

Re: Unofficial Emeric Pass

Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2016 4:57 pm
by wildhiker
To continue to Nelson Lake, head up the slope directly north of Lake 9637 on a moderate grade through very open forest with mostly dirt floor and scattered rocks. Once atop the ridge, it is easier to drop down into the shallow valley to the north in open forest and grass and then climb back up to the next spur ridge. I tried contouring around the east side - possible, but you have to work your way through granite outcrops and you don't save much elevation drop. The second spur ridge is the main southwestern ridge coming down from Peak 10787.

From the saddle on the southwest ridge from Peak 10787, descend directly north through more open forest on dirt with scattered rocks on a moderate grade at first. You have some good views through trees of Matthes Crest, the Cockscomb, and Echo Creek Canyon - our goal.
P1120015+MatthesCrest, Cockscomb, and EchoCreekCanyon while descending spur ridge.jpg
As you go lower, the slope becomes quite steep. It is still mostly open forest with dirt. I zig-zagged down to make my own switchbacks. This could be a real pain going up. Eventually you bottom out from this steep slope in a flatter, grassy area in the forest. Continue walking north down the now-gentle slope, keeping a small dry stream bed on the right. The grassy strip along this dry stream becomes our easiest path as the forest gets much denser.
P1120016+ravine at bottom of descent of spur ridge.jpg
Eventually, this low-angle forest slope starts to steepen to drop off to Echo Creek. The dry streambed heads down this steeper slope. Just before the break in slope, I left the creek and contoured right (northeast) through much more open forest, dropping gradually. In the distance, I got glimpses of a big meadow, my goal. I hit another dry creek just before a large area of dead lodgepole forest. I followed this dry creek down to emerge on the east side of the big meadow, at the point where the southerly mapped permanent stream enters (dry in September).
P1120019+looking back to spur ridge from meadow on EchoCreek.jpg
P1120017+north across meadow on EchoCreek with bilberry.jpg
Head north straight across the meadow (in early season, you may need to go around on the east side to avoid marshy areas). The northerly mapped perennial creek coming down from Peak 11357 was flowing in the middle of the meadow in September. From the north end of the meadow, contour north aiming for the Cockscomb through open forest with lots of deadfall and big granite outcrops. Cross a fork of Echo Creek (outlet of Nelson Lake), which was dry in September. Keep ascending north up the slope on a low to moderate grade through more open forest with lots of deadfall and granite outcrops. There are many dead lodgepole pines here. Stay left (west) of a swale that turns into a ravine higher up.

After a long climb, you top out on a broad granite ridge. To the northwest, the slope drops modestly to the main Echo Creek. I started walking up the ridge to the northeast, looking for the use trail to Nelson Lake. I should have hit it right away, but I missed it. I made more ducks for the use trail on the way out the next day to make it more obvious.
P1120054+back toward NelsonLake from ducked route on broad ridge east of EchoCreek.jpg
If you miss the Nelson Lake use trail, by continuing up the broad ridge you will eventually reach a point where it butts up against the steep mountain. From here, you can easily head cross-country through a forested basin and up a rocky slope to top the granite ridge below the Nelson Lake outlet, where you can pick up the obvious use trail and take it to the lake outlet area.
P1120023-southeast over NelsonLake to Peak11357 from near outlet.jpg