California is famous for many things such as movie stars, surfing, wine, beaches and even cheese being it produces more than any other state in the USA. California has a experimental culture always thinking ahead in technology, fashion or social issues. Those who dream about moving to California do it for it’s past and future.
But lets not forget the mountains. In the world of mountaineering a fourteener is a mountain peak with an elevation of at least 14,000 feet. California has 12 fourteeners with at least 300 feet of topographic prominence, This is the vertical distance between that summit and the highest point or col to a neighboring summit simply meaning it is not part of another fourteener.
Below is the rank all all fourteeners peaks with elevation and popular route to the summit.
- Mount Whitney at 14,497′ via the Whitney Trail (class 1)
- Mount Williamson at 14,375′ via West Face (class 3)
- White Mountain Peak at 14,246′ via South Face (class 1)
- North Palisade at 14,242′ via West Chute (class 4)
- Shasta, Mount at 14,162′ via Avalanche Gulch (class 2+)
- Sill, Mount at 14,153′ via Southwest slope (class 2+)
- Russell, Mount at 14,088′ via East Ridge (class 3)
- Split Mountain at 14,058′ via North Slope from the East (class 2)
- Langley, Mount at 14,026′ via Army Pass (class 1)
- Tyndall, Mount at 14,018′ via Northwest Ridge (class 2)
- Middle Palisade at 14,012′ via Northeast Face (class 3)
- Muir, Mount at 14,012′ via the Whitney Trail (class 3)
Other peaks above 14,000′ not meeting 300′ prominence are “Starlight Peak” at 14,220′, Polemonium Peak 14,100′, and Thunderbolt Peak at 14,003′.
Mount Whitney at 14,505 feet
Mount Whitney at 14,505 feet is the highest peak in California located in the Sierra Nevada. It’s not seen as a technical mountain and a good hiker can summit but depending on season. The Mount Whitney Trail is 11 miles and the most popular route and many do it as a strenuous 22-mile day hike leaving Whitney Portal in the middle of the night. The Mountaineer Route provide another level of challenge requiring a ice axe and crampons.
Mount Williamson at 14,375′
Mt Williamson at 14,379 feet has fewer ascents than Mt Whitney mainly because of the difficulty of the routes. But like all life challenges, the view from the top is the ultimate reward!
White Mountain Peak at 14,246′
White Mountain Peak is the third highest peak in California at 14,252 feet located in the Inyo White Mountains. The most popular route is class 1 on the South Face just over 7 miles. There is also a 10-mile class 2 West Ridge Route offering great views of the Owens Valley and of the Eastern Sierra Nevada range.
North Palisade at 14,242′
North Palisade is the fourth highest of the California 14er at 14,248 feet. No walk-ups to the top with the most popular routes being the U-Notch and the Clyde variation at class 4 and 5 making it a mountaineering favorite.
Mount Shasta at 14,162′
Mount Shasta at 14,179 feet has two distinctions as a California 14er. It is the farthest north in the collection and the only volcano. Located in the Cascade Range, it is a much younger volcano compared to Mount Rainier with its last eruption in 1786. The most popular and second easiest route to the summit is Avalanche Gulch. All the routes do require an ice axe and crampons, but this is a perfect mountain for one to be introduced to the sport of mountaineering.
Mount Sill at 14,153′
Mount Sill one of the California 14er’s at 14,159 has over 10 routes ranging in difficulty. One of the classic routes is the Swiss Arete at class 2 with a slightly more challenging route near the North Fork of Big Pine Creek class 3 just below the notch. The Northern Paiute people know Mount Sill as “The Guardian of the Valley”
Mount Russell at 14,088′
Mount Russell at 14,094 feet and towered by its neighbor Mount Whitney is not the highest peak in the state of the California, but part of the 14er’s collection with excellent class 3-4 and above rock climbing on its difficult sheer walls making it a favorite among mountaineers.
Split Mountain at 14,058′
Split Mountain at 14,064 feet is one of the California 14ers and easily recognizable with its twin summits. Even though it is one of the most difficult to access of all 12 in the collection the north peak is the high point with a class 2 route up the northern slope via Red Lake on the east side.
Mount Langley at 14,026′
Mount Langley at 14,032 feet is the easiest of all California 14er’s by taking the Old Army Pass, but remember it is still over 14,000 feet in elevation. The more challenging way to the top is via the North and South faces offering technical rock climbing.
Mount Tyndall at 14,018′
Mount Tyndall located in the Sierra Nevada at 14,025 feet is the neighbor of the 2nd highest peak in California, Mount Williamson right off Shepherd Pass. Getting to the summit from the pass is fairly easy, however getting to that point is another matter. It takes 11+ miles and 5700 feet in elevation gain with many ups and downs along the way. It is advised to summit both since they share the same long trail to the summit.
Middle Palisade at 14,012′
Middle Palisade at 14,018 feet is located in the central Sierra Nevada Mountain range and part of the 12 California fourteeners. It offers some great climbing with several routes of exposed scrambling and lower class technical climbing via Northeast Face (class 3). For those seeking a higher-class rating, head over to the southwest side of the Middle Palisade or a traverse from Disappointment Peak.
Mount Muir at 14,012′
Mount Muir at 14,012 feet is located in the Sierra Nevada range of California and a neighbor of Mount Whitney. There are three routes to the summit with the easiest just off the junction of the Whitney Trail and John Muir Trail (JMT) involving a short stretch of scrambling. If seeking a higher class, then the north side of the east buttress is roped and class 4 -III or 5.9. This is out of reach for most novice climbers.