Sierra Nevada - Kings Canyon National Park - University Peak

On May 27-30, 1960 (Memorial Weekend) myself, Jim Moore (Leader), Lynne Williamsen, Gordon Jones, Allan Van Norman, Eline Price, John Price and other Sierra Club members did a 14 mile round trip climb of 13,632' University Peak via the class 2 northwest side from Bullfrog Lake in the Kearsarge Lakes basin.

University Peak route map
The RED line is the trail route from Onion Valley trailhead to camp at Bullfrog Lake. The BLACK dashed line is the approximate route to the top of University Peak.

University Peak is named for the University of California. The first known ascent of University Peak was in 1896 by the early Sierra explorers Joseph LeConte, Helen Gompertz, Estelle Miller, and Belle Miller.

It is on the Sierra crest between Mount Gould to the north, and Mount Bradley to the south. It lies partly in Tulare County and partly in Inyo County. Its west side is in Kings Canyon National Park while the east face is in the John Muir Wilderness.

The nearest trailhead is Onion Valley. The least technical route to its summit is an off-trail hike up the south slopes. It offers a variety of other routes from easy scrambles to rock climbing. The more challenging routes led the Sierra Club's Sierra Peaks Section to list University as a Mountaineers Peak.

Not counting the trail hike to Mt. Whitney in 1957, this was my first Sierra Peak. We left San Diego at 5:30 p.m. and drove to the Alabama Hills near Lone Pine to camp. After breakfast in Lone Pine, we drove to Onion Valley and hit the trail. Beautiful views of snow covered mountains and frozen lakes on the trail. Topped 11,823 foot Kearsarge Pass for a late lunch. Tremendous views. Made camp at Bullfrog Lake in early afternoon.

On the trail to Kearsarge Pass - John Muir Wilderness 1960
On the trail to Kearsarge Pass - John Muir Wilderness 1960

University Peak over Big Pot Hole Lake from Kearsarge Pass - John Muir Wilderness 1960
University Peak over Big Pot Hole Lake from Kearsarge Pass - John Muir Wilderness 1960
Flower Lake on trail to Kearsarge Pass - John Muir Wilderness 1960
Flower Lake on trail to Kearsarge Pass - John Muir Wilderness 1960

Camp at Bullfrog Lake - Kings Canyon National Park 1960
Camp at Bullfrog Lake - Kings Canyon National Park 1960

Headed for University Peak at 9 am Sunday morning. Fairly difficult climb up steep snow slope to saddle for lunch. Reached peak at 3 pm after tiring climb up loose scree slopes with some cautious rock scrambling near summit. Snow began falling as we reached the summit. Made a mad scramble down the scree and glissaded down part of snow slope. Snow stopped and sun poked through clouds before we reached camp. I was beat.

Looking across frozen Kearsarge Lake to saddle (right) and University Peak (left) - Kings Canyon National Park 1960
Looking across frozen Kearsarge Lake to saddle (right) and University Peak (left)
Kings Canyon National Park 1960
On the way to University Peak - Kings Canyon National Park 1960
On the way to University Peak - Kings Canyon National Park 1960

Jim Moore pointing way to University Peak - Kings Canyon National Park 1960
Jim Moore pointing way to University Peak - Kings Canyon National Park 1960

Looking back at Kearsarge Lake - Kings Canyon National Park 1960
Looking back at Kearsarge Lake - Kings Canyon National Park 1960
Approaching the saddle on way to University Peak - Kings Canyon National Park 1960
Approaching the saddle on way to University Peak - Kings Canyon National Park 1960

Just above the saddle, looking back at Kearsarge Pinnacles (left) and Kearsarge Lakes - Kings Canyon National Park 1960
Just above the saddle, looking back at Kearsarge Pinnacles (left) and Kearsarge Lakes
Kings Canyon National Park 1960

Looking back at Kearsarge Lakes from top of University Peak - Kings Canyon National Park 1960
Looking back at Kearsarge Lakes from top of University Peak
Kings Canyon National Park 1960
Looking back near the summit, Alan VanNorman - Kings Canyon National Park 1960
Looking back near the summit, Allan Van Norman - Kings Canyon National Park 1960

Jim Moore and Allan Van Norman on summit of University Peak - Kings Canyon National Park 1960
Jim Moore and Allan Van Norman on summit of University Peak
Kings Canyon National Park 1960
University Peak from Kearsarge Pass on the way oute - John Muir Wilderness 1960
University Peak from Kearsarge Pass on the way oute - John Muir Wilderness 1960

On the trail at 8 am Monday morning and topped Kearsarge Pass in an hour and fifteen minutes. Had lunch in Lone Pine at 2 pm and reached San Diego at 8:30 pm.

Pictures of the north side of University Peak from the Bench lake area.