Climbing banner peak from the JMT ?

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Satchel Buddah
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Climbing banner peak from the JMT ?

Post by Satchel Buddah » Thu Mar 28, 2019 9:32 am

hi folks,
I am doing the north section of the JMT in september, and I can take the time to rove around a bit. I have always been stirred by pictures of Banner peak above Garnet / Thousand island and I am tempted to summit one of them if doable. I will be solo with minimal gear (I might bring a helmet if it would be foolish not to), is that absolutely foolish or doable ? Looking at topo maps it looks like the west southwest route from lake florence is class 2 which would work for me - I am not ready for class 3 solo. Thank you for your feedback!








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Re: Climbing banner peak from the JMT ?

Post by Satchel Buddah » Thu Mar 28, 2019 10:32 am

ahhh! found several trip reports that make me think it is doable :)

Should I pack the ice axe ? (obviously it's a big snow year, just not sure what will be left early september).
Microspikes or crampons or nothing ? :)
And lastly, could I swing it with trail runners (using NF GTX which is a "winter" trail runner with cold traction)? I could bring the serious boots but that will weight the rest of the jmt hike.

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Re: Climbing banner peak from the JMT ?

Post by bobby49 » Thu Mar 28, 2019 11:52 am

Banner Peak near Thousand Island Peak, I know. I don't know that you could get there from Lake Florence (Florence Lake?).

Basically, you first want to get to the saddle that is between Ritter and Banner. From there, going up Banner is supposed to be Class 2. Going up Ritter is more like Class 3. Getting to the saddle should not be that difficult in September. If approaching from the south, the gully ought to be completely melted out. If approaching from the north, it is a little trickier since there is something like a glacier there (from Lake Catherine). Note that earlier in the season, it can be difficult. A well-documented incident happened there around May 1970, and four guys died at or around the saddle due to a sudden storm and sudden worsening of conditions.

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Re: Climbing banner peak from the JMT ?

Post by Satchel Buddah » Thu Mar 28, 2019 2:30 pm

Thank you Bobby! Not sure how to get to Lake Florence from thousand either :) the guides I saw on banner said the easiest approach was via Florence. But going up the gully does not look too bad.

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Re: Climbing banner peak from the JMT ?

Post by bobby49 » Thu Mar 28, 2019 3:00 pm

From Florence Lake to Banner is about thirty miles as the crow flies, and much farther on foot. I can't imagine why any directions would point that way. The most direct way is probably starting from Silver Lake (near June Lake), which is the way that I went last time. We backpacked in and camped one night, then dayhiked to the saddle. My buddy went up Banner and I went up Ritter. Then we returned to camp that second day.

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Re: Climbing banner peak from the JMT ?

Post by Harlen » Thu Mar 28, 2019 9:12 pm

We backpacked in and camped one night, then dayhiked to the saddle. My buddy went up Banner and I went up Ritter.
The route up Ritter that bobby describes is not trivial, and has even killed a few people. I chose to climb diagonally up across that snowfield at a lower angle from the saddle across the northern snow field, and then went up the broken rock to the summit. The snow was quite hard, and my girlfriend and I had crampons, ice axes and a belay rope. If you wait till later in the morning, you can probably kick steps in and be safe(ish) without all that gear. Kicking steps with trail runners sounds painful and ineffective, unless the snow is really soft. If you're keen on going light, at least take a stout stick as a rudimentary ice tool; and you can always bail on Ritter and switch to Banner. Have a great climb on one or the other.

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Re: Climbing banner peak from the JMT ?

Post by bobby49 » Thu Mar 28, 2019 9:33 pm

Harlen wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 9:12 pm
We backpacked in and camped one night, then dayhiked to the saddle. My buddy went up Banner and I went up Ritter.
The route up Ritter that bobby describes is not trivial, and has even killed a few people. I chose to climb diagonally up across that snowfield at a lower angle from the saddle across the northern snow field, and then went up the broken rock to the summit. The snow was quite hard, and my girlfriend and I had crampons, ice axes and a belay rope. If you wait till later in the morning, you can probably kick steps in and be safe(ish) without all that gear. Kicking steps with trail runners sounds painful and ineffective, unless the snow is really soft. If you're keen on going light, at least take a stout stick as a rudimentary ice tool; and you can always bail on Ritter and switch to Banner. Have a great climb on one or the other.
Harlen, he is talking about September, so that should be late enough for nearly all of the past winter snow to have melted off, yet not so late that much new snow is falling.

Yes, your route sounds similar to where I went, diagonally up across and then turned left into some narrow rock chute that led me toward the summit. Descending, I retraced my steps through a lot of loose rock and old snow until I was directly above the saddle, and I could see my buddy waiting for me. As I descended the last hundred feet of old snow, I slipped and fell, putting a gash across the palm of my left hand. So, as they say, you've got to watch that last step. As you stated, a stout stick would make a rudimentary ice tool.

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Re: Climbing banner peak from the JMT ?

Post by Harlen » Thu Mar 28, 2019 11:13 pm

bobby49 wrote:
Harlen, he is talking about September, so that should be late enough for nearly all of the past winter snow to have melted off, yet not so late that much new snow is falling.
I assumed that the upper part of the snowfield to be composed of glacier ice, I didn't realize that it melted away. Still must be a nasty rockfall route.
As you stated, a stout stick would make a rudimentary ice tool.
bobby49


I'm glad you took that seriously bobby; many folks think I'm a Neanderthal with my big stick. I believe an alpenstock has several advantages over your ski or trekking pole, one being in its use for self belay- that is, driving it in deep upslope and trusting it if your feet slip out. Trekking poles would be more likely to either break, or cut through the snow. And you can't beat the strength of a stout stick for a standing glissade!
Last edited by Harlen on Fri Mar 29, 2019 11:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Climbing banner peak from the JMT ?

Post by bobby49 » Fri Mar 29, 2019 6:29 am

Harlen wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 11:13 pm
bobby49 wrote:
Harlen, he is talking about September, so that should be late enough for nearly all of the past winter snow to have melted off, yet not so late that much new snow is falling.
I assumed that the upper part of the snowfield to be composed of glacier ice, I didn't realize that it melted away. Still must be a nasty rockfall route.
As you stated, a stout stick would make a rudimentary ice tool.
I'm glad you took that seriously bobby; many folks think I'm a Neanderthal with my big stick. I believe an alpenstock has several advantages over your ski or trekking pole, one being in its use for self belay- that is, driving it in deep upslope and trusting it if your feet slip out. Trekking poles would be more likely to either break, or cut through the snow. And you can't beat the strength of a stout stick for a standing glissade!
Harlen, you misquoted me, and I do not appreciate that.

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Re: Climbing banner peak from the JMT ?

Post by Satchel Buddah » Fri Mar 29, 2019 8:40 am

Ah, mistake! it's lake Catherine not lake florence, apologies. So from the topo, route from NW side of thousand island is to go south towards glacier pass, then stay up between catherine and R/B until you reach the gully to the saddle, then take the gully to the saddle and go up on the west slope of banner.

Thank you for the feedback! This is a bit more serious than I thought - being solo I would rather play it safe-ish. I should at least pack the ice ax and maybe the big boots.... mmmmmm.

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