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Mount Dana and Mount Gibbs in Yosemite

Mount Dana and Mount Gibbs from Dana Meadow

Mount Dana (above left) and Mount Gibbs (above right) are two mountains on the eastern edge of Yosemite National Park. At an elevation of 13,061 feet (3981 m), Mount Dana is the second highest mountain in Yosemite, after Mount Lyell, and is the highest peak in Yosemite that is a simple hike to the summit. The peak of Mount Gibbs (the mountain is 2 miles [3 km] south of Mount Dana) is at 12,773 feet (3893 m) and lies on the boundary between Yosemite National Park and the Inyo National Forest. The Tioga Road to these mountains is closed in winter (which can start as early as October :-) ).

Mount Dana was named after James Dwight Dana, who was a geology professor at Yale College. The mountain is composed of mostly reddish metamorphic rock of the Cretaceous Period. The northern face of the mountain includes a small, receding glacier known as the Dana Glacier.

Mount Dana was first climbed in 1863 by Josiah Whitney, William Henry Brewer, and Charles F. Hoffmann. The photo above is from Dana Meadows, which lie at the foot of the mountain. The view from the top includes lakes in Dana Meadows, Mono Lake, and many other mountains. The Wikipedia entry on Mount Dana provides a general description of the hike to the top. Mount Dana is usually hiked from its western face, starting at the Tioga Pass Yosemite National Park entrance and is a class 1-2 hike (according to Wikipedia), rising 3108 feet (947 m) in elevation in 2.9 miles (4.7 km), a 20.3% average grade, from the park entrance at Tioga Pass. The trail is not maintained, so hikers must assume any risk. The main path is clearly marked just above the tree line but alternative paths on the southwestern face make parts of the hike a difficult class 2. Additionally, there is scree toward the summit. Significant snow fields can exist on the summit slope late into summer. Total round-trip times for hiking can range from 3-12 hours, and depend on many factors, including the acclimatization to elevation. Even experienced hikers can experience altitude sickness. After a plateau above the tree line, vegetation is almost entirely limited to lichen and a few alpine Sky Pilot (Polemonium eximium). Fauna is limited to spiders, insects, marmots, and the occasional human being. :-) Weather is an occasional hazard, since thunderstorms can arise quickly, making rocks slippery and hiking dangerous. Additionally, temperatures can drop quickly, with weather as hot as 100 deg F (38 deg C) dropping to freezing during a hailstorm.

Mount Gibbs was named after Oliver Gibbs, a friend of Josiah Whitney and a professor at Harvard. Rock is metamorphic, of the Cretaceous Period.

The first ascent of Mount Gibbs was in 1864, on horseback, by Frederick Law Olmsted (father of American landscape architecture) and William Henry Brewer. The peak is accessible from the west, starting at Tioga Pass, or from the east, via Bloody Canyon, from the trailhead at Walker Lake. Overnight camping is not permitted on the western side of the mountain, since it is part of a protected watershed of Dana Meadows and Tioga Pass. Only patchy snow exists in summer, on the northern slope. Wikipedia reports that the easiest ascent is via the ridge extending west from the peak, although there is a steep section of unstable rocks. The view of Mono Lake from the summit is partially obstructed by an outcropping.

Mount Dana and Mount Gibbs can also be appreciated without climbing. :-) The coordinates for Mount Dana are 37 deg 53′ 59.64″ N, 119 deg 13′ 15.93″ W, and those for Mount Gibbs are 37 deg 52′ 38″ N, 119 deg 12′ 39″ W.

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™

You can view higher-resolution photos (*generally* 7-30 megabytes, compressed) at the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Pro Gallery on Shutterfly™, where you can also order prints and gifts decorated with the photos of your choice from the gallery. Apparel and other gifts decorated with some of our most popular photos can be ordered from the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Store on CafePress®. Both Shutterfly™ and CafePress® ship to most international locations worldwide!

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