Cirque Country

Horseshoe Meadows to White Pass

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This section of the High Route traverses the north side Monarch Divide starting in forested tablelands at Horseshoe Meadows. From there, it climbs and crosses over Windy Ridge, a major northern spur of Monarch Divide at Gray Pass, then descends into the beautiful alpine basin of South Fork Cartridge Creek. Finally, there is a long climb out of that basin to White Pass on the shoulder of Marion Peak. This section of the SHR is completely above 10,000'. LANDMARKS

Marion Peak - Named after Marion Gompertz LeConte (aka Mrs. Joseph LeConte, a pioneering explorer and promoter of the Sierra

Cartridge Creek

Windy Point


Below is a profile of this section of the SHR. Using the time-honored Sierra Club formula of 1 hour/1,000' (vertical) + 1 hour/3 miles (horizontal), the hiking time for this section should be around 4.5 hours plus breaks. From left to right: An ascending tranverse of Windy Ridge from Horseshoe Creek Meadow over Gray Pass, then a steep descent into South Fork Cartridge Creek Basin, followed by a long, steep climb to White Pass.

A short side trip from the SHR to Windy Point and its magnificent view of LeConte Canyon, the Black and White Divides, and the Monarch Divide.


Separating White Divide on the left and Black Divide on the right is Goddard Canyon which drains the south face of Mt Goddard (the dark pyramid in the distance) and the Ionian Basin. This picture features some of the most remote country in the Sierra.

From Windy Point - looking back across the tablelands up toward Glacier Lake, Goat Crest and Monarch Divide.

From Windy Point - Le Conte Canyon, looking upstream. To the left is Black Divide, to the right are the Palisades. Windy Point is ~5,000' lower than the Palisades and ~6,000' higher than the Middle Fork Kings which forms LeConte Canyon.

From Windy Point - the crest of Monarch Divide just west and south of Marion Peak (which is just out of the picture to the left). The white ridge in the right forground is Windy Ridge. The High Route traverses from right to left, out of view below this point, and then enters South Fork Cartridge Creek basin to the left.

From Windy Point - The crest of Monarch Divide and the basin of South Fork Cartridge Creek. Marion Peak is the commanding, flat-topped peak to the left of center. Further left is Red Point. The High Route ascends the basin, then turns left and climbs out at White pass. Then it crosses Red Pass, the saddle between Marion Pk and Red Point.

From the vicinity of Gray Pass, Lake 10236 sits in a hanging valley high above swirling fog in LeConte Canyon.

From the vicinity of Gray Pass, Lake 10236 sits in a hanging valley high above swirling fog in LeConte Canyon.

Traversing Gray Pass before descending into the basin of South Fork Cartridge Creek. Marion Peak dominates the skyline. Visible below Marion Peak is White Pass, where the High Route climbs back out of the basin.

The remote and beautiful basin of South Fork Cartridge Creek with the crest of Monarch Divde soaring above.

On the descent into the basin of South Fork Cartridge Creek, a view through the creek's outlet above LeConte Canyon to Black Divide on the other side.

Cross-country terrain in the basin of South Fork Cartridge Creek.

An alpine lake high in the basin on the climb to White Pass.

An even higher tarn in alpine terrain - approaching White Pass.

The view northwest from near White Pass. LeConte Canyon is far below. Black Divide is directly across the canyon. Goddard Peak and the Evolution Peaks are beyond.

Looking southeast from near White Pass, the top of Monarch Divide with Marion Peak on the left.

Looking southwest from near White Pass, the top of Monarch Divide.

White Pass looking west toward Windy Ridge and the West Slope beyond.