Baxter Pass High Route

This is a route from the fine folks over at They have a lot of really cool routes.

I hiked the route from Baxter Pass to Kearsarge Pass (counterclockwise) in August 2020. Unfortunately, my friend Noe sustained a knee injury, so we did not finish the route. Matt and I went back in 2022 to finish the last section and climb Dragon Peak and Mt. Gould.

Part I. Baxter Pass to Kearsarge Pass, August 2020

It was late July of my first summer of living in Bishop and for some reason I had yet to venture south on 395, having done all of my hiking to the north so far. Although I had hiked the JMT and the SHR in the nearby area, I was keen to explore more in this beautiful area.

Noe, Adam, Ari, Tommy and I set out from Baxter Pass on a Thursday after work. Baxter Pass was my third of the infamous four high passes (Taboose, Sawmill, Baxter, Shepard). We split up the 6,000 foot climb by camping halfway up it, which made the climb feel much easier. We climbed all the way from the sagebrush in the desert to the 12,000 foot pass. We were greeted by a different world when we crossed the Sierra Crest. Massive peaks and large lakes dominated the horizon for as far as the eye could see.

Roper took his high route through the west in this area, because he prefers more greenery. This area is very open and barren, less earthlike. I can see why roper chose the western route, but it just goes to show how big the Sierra is and how much there is left to explore. Even after hiking the 200 mile high route, the JMT, the HST and the 13 highest peaks, I have just barely scratched the surface.

On the first full day we climbed Mt. Baxter and scurried down the other side. This short class three section wan’t that bad, but it took a few of my friends who were new to scrambling a while. On the second day two of my friends opted to take a shortcut on the JMT, but Adam, Ari and I continued on, mostly off trail. This section was my favorite of the route. It truely felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. On the third day we planned to go out over Mt. Gould and down Kearsarge Pass, but my friend Noe got injured so we opted to stay on trail.

Looking back into the Owens Valley
Almost atop Baxter Pass
Looking over the other side of Baxter Pass
Climbing down from Mt. Baxter
The Windows Peak Drainage. I would later find out this is where Randy Morgenson passed away after reading “The Last Season”
Heading down to Wood’s Hole
Rae Lake, We began the climb to Gould Pass, but turned around due to Noe’s Injury.
Bullfrog Lake
Back in the Owens Valley

Part II

Finishing the route from the JMT to Kearsarge via Dragon and Gould peaks. I am glad I returned to finish the route. It was quite the thrill to stand atop Dragon Peak after completing the short but airy traverse.

Rae Lakes
Dragon Peak
Final “third class” section to the summit of Dragon Peak
Looks scary, but the holds are good and it goes
Mt. Gould

Matt’s trip report from Dragon and Gould: