Mount Silliman

Route in red is on trails, purple is cross country
August 3rd-4th, 2002
Distance: 9mi (5mi cross country)
Elevation Gain: 4000 ft (3000ft cross Country)
Class 2 Peak

This was an Outing Club backpacking trip to climb Mount Silliman in Sequoia National Park.

Trip Participants: Arturo Crespo (leader), Girish Hullati, John 'se Jerman' Damaschke, Chris Jacobs, Igor Landau, Bill Shapiro, Adam Silverman, Niloy Mitra, Shengi Cheng, Oudan Peng, Amit Bedajna, Johnny Ng.

Picture by Chris Jacobs
The Group at the Trailhead

We started at Lodgepole (6700ft) and hiked up the Twin Lake trail. After 2.1 miles, we left the trail just where it crosses Silliman Creek. There is a good use trail starting there, although the start is not obvious from the main trail. (In the way back, we found out that a much better use trail leaves the main trail at the bottom of the switchbacks located just before the point where the trail crosses Silliman Creek.) We proceeded to Silliman Meadows where there are good campsites and up to an unnamed meadow at about 9000ft. This unnamed meadow would be also a good place to camp, although water may be scarce late in the season.

Picture by Girish Hullati
Friction Slabs from the unnamed meadow under Silliman Lake

Picture by Igor Landau
Panoramic of the friction slabs under Silliman Lake

From the unnamed meadow, friction slabs lead up to Silliman lake. These slabs are class 2 and require some route finding to avoid the steepest segments. A class-1 alternative (that most of our group took in the way down) is a rock gully at the far right (South) of the meadow. If you take the gully, stay on it until a headwall blocks your way, at which point you should exit the gully and continue on the slabs (which are now much less steep). While on the slabs, slowly traverse to the North to avoid the headwall just under the lake.

Picture by Bill Shapiro
Climbing Friction Slabs under Silliman Lake

Lake Silliman (10049ft) has limited, but very good camping, we shared the only large flat spot with a family of 5 (a father and 4 boys that later joined us in the climb). There are additional flat spots that can accommodate a single small tent or a bivy.

Picture by Bill Shapiro

Picture by Johnny Ng
Lake Silliman and our camp

Silliman lake is a gem of the Sierra. It's just warm enough to swim (many of us went in) and it has good fishing. The family that was there caught 12 trouts and Bill caught 6 trouts in just a couple of hours (he kept 3 and released the other 3). After a relaxing time by the lake, we started dinner and we had a cooking contest. There were two categories: best gourmet dish, and best "backpacking" dish (non-perishable food that it's high in calories and easy to prepare). Girish won the best dish category with his french soup and rice with vegetables, and Bill the best backpacking food with his breaded fresh trouts. Adam won a special mention with his very spicy beans.

Picture by Bill Shapiro
Bill holding "the best backpacking dinner"

On Sunday, we woke up at 7am and started to climb Mount Silliman at 8:30am. From Silliman Lake, the climb is very straight forward and it's very easy class 2. We followed easy labs to a small shallow lake on top of Silliman Lake. From this lake, the peak can be reached by following the gully at the Northwest end of the lake and then heading straight North to the top. However, we got confused on which peak was actually Silliman and instead we climbed Peak 11160+, a very nice solid-class 2 scramble.

Picture by Bill Shapiro
Arturo on top of Peak 11160+ (renamed Mt. Idiotman by us)

Picture by Igor Landau
View from the top of Peak 11160+

After realizing our error, we dropped to the saddle between Peak 11160+ and Mt. Silliman and climb the right peak. From the saddle, the climb is a straight forward class 1 scramble. The register at the top (an ammo box) contains several books, going back to 1992. Mt. Silliman is definitely a popular peak both in Summer and Winter.

Picture by Bill Shapiro
Arturo on top of Mt. Silliman

There is an incredible view from the top of Mt. Silliman of the Great Western Divide. We had a large-scale map and we were able to identify peaks such as Mt. Brewer, Table Mountain, Milestone, Triple Divide, the Kaweahs, and Eagle Scout. Unfortunately, the view was hazy towards the South due to the fires in Sequoia National Forest, so only nearby southern peaks (like Alta) were visible.

Picture by Chris Jacobs
The group on top of Mt. Silliman

After climbing the peak, we returned to Silliman Lake for a relaxing lunch and another swim.

Picture by Johnny Ng
Arturo and Amit in Silliman Lake

We agreed to leave by 1:30pm sharp... and then, the incredible happened: we actually packed out exactly at 1:30pm! After an interesting descend of the slabs (this time via the gully), we reached the main twin lakes trail and we reached the Lodgepole trailhead at around 4:30pm.

Do you want more Pictures? Follow these links:
Bill's Pictures
Chris' Pictures
Girish's Pictures (requires Ofoto signup)
Johnny's pictures

© 2002 Arturo Crespo