ROUTE 2 - Granite Bear Variations

Variation Descriptions

Granite Bear VariationsThe main loop winds through the Granite Park above Honeymoon Lake and crosses the Sierra crest by the well trodden Italy Pass use trail. There are opportunities to cross directly from the Granite Park to Black Bear Lake on the west side that also shorten the loop a bit, at least in terms of mileage if not time.

Granite Bear Pass

One mile south of Italy Pass, Granite Bear Pass (12,330 ft/N 37º 20.222', W 118º 46.864') offers straightforward access to the upper Bear Lakes Basin. The pass is the obvious weakness in the Sierra crest visible for a considerable distance along the Italy Pass trail. Leave the trail near a small lake at 11,600 ft and climb the drainage southwest over Class 2 terrain for less than a mile up to the pass. Descend west over easy, sandy Class 1 slopes to Black Bear Lake.

"Granite Bear Col"

For something more interesting, try "Granite Bear Col" located 0.7 miles due south of Italy Pass, which accesses the cirque northeast of Black Bear Lake. Leave the trail where it turns sharply right at around 11,650 ft near two small lakes, the lower of which is visible from the trail. Circle right avoiding large blocks to the outlet of the upper lake. Traverse southwest above the upper lake to a left sloping Class 3 ramp leading to the crest (12,480 ft/N 37º 20.505', W 118º 47.083'). Beware of large loose blocks; the going may be easier on the rocks left. From the col, find a Class 2 escape left avoiding steep slabs directly below and descend to Black Bear Lake.