Tony Krizan

Summit of Mount Givens

First view of Mt. Givens from the 4x4 road.
First view of Mt. Givens from the 4x4 road.

For many years I have driven over Kaiser Pass.

This is one of two roads open to the huge valley that centuries ago was originally occupied during the summer months by our local Native American Indians. The second or lower elevation road is through Big Creek and Sample Meadows. Advisable only if Kaiser Pass is covered in deep snow. Snuggled within this huge valley are Florence Lake, Edison Lake, Edison Lake Vermilion, Mono Hot Springs and flowing through its interior is the San Joaquin River.

Around the middle of August, my two hiking buddies Fred Cochran and Clem Bingham informed me that on September 02nd they wanted to hike to Mount Givens and am I interested? This may be my opportunity to preview this huge valley from another angle. Now maybe I can preview those lakes I’ve visited but could not be seen from the northern valley ridges. On the south ridgeline of this valley is a series of smaller lakes called Corbett, Cunningham, and Givens. These lakes are also snuggled within the canyons and hidden by the thick forests around Mount Givens. For years I’ve been visiting these lakes and looked at Givens lofty summit. September 02nd is the day I solve my untold desire to hike or climb to its pinnacle.

This adventure starts at Kaiser Pass with an elevation of 9,200 feet. This is also the start of the Dusy, Ershim 4x4 trail (road) that skirts this mountain range for 33 miles to Courtrcht. The first mile is passable by a standard high clearance 4X4 to the gate and signs. From this point, one can hike or drive a modified 4X4. Do not attempt driving beyond this gate with a standard vehicle.

We started hiking this Wilderness Road which was constructed from 1956 to 1960. It was first surveyed by Glen Emery and blasted with dynamite by Don Dobson and John Skadden. Only a short time later the first views of Mount Givens appear. Its lofty summit was hidden by another high ridge which this road follows over. Before long we are standing at the base of Mount Givens. At this point, we have another 650 feet of non-trail elevation to climb. Roughly 600 feet of this remaining climb is a slow pull until the last 50 feet. Now we get to experience boulder hopping to the summit. Our first visual of this peak is a stand of cellular panels and a telescope someone mounted. Just think someone haled up cement to anchor this treat for us successful climbers to enjoy. The telescope even rotates 360 degrees with directional identifications of local mountains and lakes. Attached to one of those many huge boulders is the Bench Marker placed by the survivors dated 1950 identifies this mountain.

Finally, after all these years I am now looking at this huge valley from a different angle. For those of us who enjoy hiking the Sierra Nevada Mountains every trail and mountain summit is different. Each adventure has its rewards and maybe that is the reason those of you like myself keep coming back seeking that new adventure.

On our return, we shared this difficult road with a few converted Jeep enthusiasts. Each separately was inching their way over these huge boulders that are obstacles within this roadway. Their technology used to convert these Jeeps to craw over each boulder is amazing to watch. After watching their display of pulling and winching each other over those boulders makes me think; I’d rather be hiking! We hiked back to the gate where our vehicles were parked long before those off-roaders arrived at the gate.

This moderate to strenuous hike took two hours to the summit and less time to return. This is one hike to enter onto your list of hikes soon. Be sure and contact the forest Service for weather information before starting. Remember you’re hiking above 9,200 feet at Kaiser Pass and the summit of Mount Givens is 10,648 feet.