Featured photo for Mt. Conness, CA
Photo: Richard Schwaninger

Mt. Conness, CA

So here is my Mount Conness trip report.

Basically, I am just happy to be OFF of that mountain with my life still intact!!! There were some sections I was very uncomfortable, including some steep and dramatically exposed sections where every time I’d take a step upwards, my feet would slide down the mountain several inches because the rocks/gravel/dirt was so loose. This was not fun at all. The most scary part, however, was trying to traverse a near-vertical 30-feet wide snow chute by kicking steps. This turned out to be something straight out of the TV show “Fear Factor”. In fact, both Richard and I took separate falls of at least 10 feet, which LUCKILY we were both able to arrest with our ice axes. But had we not been able to arrest our falls, there were boulders about 300 feet below we would have landed on. Way too much excitement than I could handle so shortly after we decided to turn around instead of head for a scary-looking knife-edge ridgetop that lead to the summit, still 1300 feet above us.

But heading back was pretty awful too! We had to downclimb, which took absolutely forever and was much more uncomfortable than hiking upwards. In fact I was moving so tentatively with the loose rock/etc. that we set up a 200-ft rapel for myself in a section (on Richard’s single, 8.5mm-diameter 60m-long rope no less)… that felt a little better and faster, if not even more risky. But still had to do a lot of downclimbing until, after several hours, we found a trail with solid ground… but even that was terrible because we were viciously attacked by mosquitos for hours (even after I put on bug spray!)

And I haven’t even mentioned the huge migraine I had while trying to downclimb at 11,500 feet, which thankfully some Tylenol, Cytomax (thanks Richard!) and lower altitudes solved, but made trying to keep my balance on loose ground near impossible.

The good thing is that, miraculously, we managed to get back without injury aside from some scrapes and a gazillion mosquito bites. I also learned a few things about myself: 1) I am not nearly as masochistic as some people think, as I definitely was not finding the uncomfortable sections fun, and 2) I do not like challenges where one’s life is clearly and needlessly at stake.

I also resolved that I need to switch over to a safer sport than mountaineering, like bowling or tennis or something. At the very least, when I decide to hike up another mountain, it’s going to have a pre-defined trail where it’ll be much more difficult to slip and get hurt or injured. I have no desire to do something like the Conness North Ridge Route again!


  • Felix Wong
  • Richard Schwaninger

WARNING: Please be careful on this mountain (and actually, any mountain!) Mt. Conness in particular has claimed a number of lives. Please see my memorial to Stephen Cook for more information.

Photos not created by Felix Wong may be subject to copyright.
Felix, at 7:30 a.m., ready to go.
Photo: Richard Schwaninger
Still-manageable grassy trails with the North Peak in the distance.
Photo: Richard Schwaninger
Terrain starts getting challenging here.
Photo: Richard Schwaninger
The Ridge to the Summit is ahead!  But the terrain here is crap!
Photo: Richard Schwaninger
Felix Wong free-climbing above Lake Conness, hours after we turned around.
Photo: Richard Schwaninger