13,114 ft / 3,997 m


1,894 ft / 577 m


16 summits

Top climbing months

July   56%

September  18%

February   6%

Most climbed route

Lyell Glacier


  • Mount Lyell is the highest point in Yosemite National Park.
  • Located at the southeast end of the Cathedral Range, 1.2 miles northwest of Rodgers Peak.
  • The peak has the largest glacier in Yosemite, Lyell Glacier.
  • The most common approach to Mount Lyell is from Tuolumne Meadows on a highly traveled section of the John Muir Trail. The round trip is approximately 25 miles and involves 4,500 feet of elevation gain.
  • The hike is easy from Tuolumne Meadows, following the Tuolumne River to the head of the Lyell Canyon, and becomes moderate as it approaches Donahue Pass. Before reaching Donahue Pass, this route leaves the trail and heads south towards Mount Lyell.
  • Most summit ascents are done either over or around the Lyell Glacier.
  • Seasonal and year-to-year variations on the glacier make it necessary to assess current conditions before choosing a route to the summit.
  • The NW Ridge, from the saddle between Mount Lyell and nearby Mount Maclure, offers class 2-3 climbing with high snow levels on the glacier. Low snow levels increases the grade to class 3-4 on the exposed granite ledges, in which cases it may be easier to ascend the glacier more directly to the summit.
  • The grade of the East Arete likewise increases with low snow conditions, going from class 3 to class 4 (the looseness of the rock underlying the glacier on the East Arete makes it somewhat dangerous in low snow conditions).
  • Other routes exist on the south and west sides, but of greater difficulty and longer approaches.
"Day 1: Left Tuolumne Meadows at 2pm. Asaka was feeling jet lagged so we kept a slow pace to start. Hiked to 9,700 ft where we set up camp at 8pm. Day 2: Broke camp at 6am. Followed JMT until second lake, where we left trail and continued to Lyell Creek. Climbed the granite slabs and a giant scree field until the base of the Lyell Glacier. Ascended the sun cup filled glacier with crampons and ice axes until we reached the Lyell/Maclure saddle at 12,500ft. From here, we did some careful class 3/4 scrambling up the northwest ridge, until the last class 2 boulder slog to the summit. We had gre" - seancasserly, Jul 30, 2016
"Over the river and through the woods and across the meadow and up the mountain. Followed a supposedly 3rd class route description from Secor which turned into a gnarly rock 5th class rock at the end. We weren't going to do that unroped. Traversed over to the standard route eventually. Got back to camp just in time for a beautiful sunset." - paperpanther, Jul 11, 2009



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