Liberty Cap, Smith Peak
By: Pete Yamagata
Consonant with the demand for "leisure" peaks, I have been exploring lesser, non-listed summits, which, I believe, are eminently worthy of being climbed. These peaks have some degree of prominence, and good, unique views, and maybe a little technical difficulty.
The two that I climbed with Rex Smith both qualify in this regard. Smith is a rocky high-point overlooking Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, with a view down the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, not attainable from any other summit. This peak we climbed from the Smith Meadow trailhead about 2 miles before O'Shaughnessy Dam on the Evergreen/Hetch Hetchy Road. It is about 6-1/2 miles to the top with 3500' gain, all trail.
For a climb from Yosemite Valley when the Half Dome cables are still down, Liberty Cap proved a spectacular treat, consisting of about 4-1/2 mi. and 3,000' gain from Happy Isles via the Nevada Fall trail, with a little class 2 after leaving the trail. There are some very photogenic specimens of Jeffrey Pine on top, comparable to the world-famous Jeffrey now deceased on Sentinel Dome. All of this with the massive South Face of Half Dome looming above! We left registers on top of each of these, having found nothing.
We also attempted adjacent Mt. Broderick, but were stymied by a "C1. 3," "steep friction" pitch which was too exposed for my taste without a rope.
There are certainly many other "leisure peaks," such as Crystal Crag near Mammoth, and about 50 named summits in the Tahoe area which I am involved with via the local "Peak and Gorge" section. Certainly, more can be found, and since most people apparently climb without regard for any "list," there is no need for shame!
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