Ryan’s notes

7 Summits of Desolation Wilderness

My friend Avi and I decided to tackle this route after seeing a few people we know attempt it. It winds through Desolation Wilderness, tagging seven peaks in a loop: Ralston, Pyramid, Agassiz, Price, Jacks, Dicks, and Tallac. We didn't put much thought into it, we just showed up. It's good we didn't overthink it, because it turned out to be a ridiculous effort: 26 miles, 10,000ft+ of vertical gain, with about half of it off trail. We started and ended by the light of our headlamps. It's one of the hardest things I've ever done.

The route, starting from Fallen Leaf Lake and looping clockwise.

Aaand we're off!

Atop Ralston. One down, six to go...

The first peak was brutally cold and windy and we hadn't brought gloves. A few miles in, Avi was struggling hard after a night of insomnia. We thought about bailing out, but carried on.

Sleepy Avi

Throughout the course of the day, we saw just two other people. Each peak was just as stunning as the last, and we ticked them off one-by-one. The middle part of the route is the most off trail. And it really is off trail. We scrambled through boulder fields. We pushed directly up a face of scree and talus. We walked across a highly exposed ridge line, shaky and exhausted. The absurdity of it was exhilarating.

An endless, trail-less ridge between Pyramid and Price.

Mount Price. Over halfway there...

Dicks Peak, my favorite of the bunch.

We were totally spent before the final peak, a familiar Mount Tallac. Luckily, Mom's Chocolate Chip Cookies (best trail snack ever) brought us back from the dead and pushed us to the top.

Critical cookie break before the last push.

Atop Tallac, pretty wasted at this point 😂

We descended in the moonlight, stunned by just how far we'd traveled.

Finishing by headlamp. What a day!


Mentioned in: