The Hell For Sure Challenge may be the most difficult, and exhilarating long-weekend backpacking experience you ever encounter. Spend three nights and four days exploring an unspoiled, and relatively unknown slice of heaven south of Yosemite, and north of Kings Canyon National Park. The looped route, which will traverse more than 40 miles, includes two hand-and-foot off trail scrambles to ~12,000’ peaks along the Le Conte Divide (Red Mountain and Mt. Hutton) with unrivaled views of the Sierra Crest. The difficulty, which includes an aggressive hike on day one, ensures you'll experience Disappointment Lake, Devil’s Punchbowl and Hell For Sure Lake in relative solitude.
One-night of pre-trek cabin lodging in Shaver Lake, California is included in with this trek.
- One-night pre-trek lodging in Shaver Lake, CA (multiple occupancy cabin)
- Guided 3 night 4 day trek through John Muir Wilderness to Le Conte Divide
- Orientation and personalized pack-check prior to departure
- All meals and snacks while in the back-country
- Group gear and equipment
- Backpack, tent, and sleeping pad if needed
- Inspiration for a lifetime
What’s not included
- Meals in the front-country while in Shaver Lake, CA
- Transportation to and from Shaver Lake, CA
How it works
A $350 deposit per person is required with balance due 60 days prior to the event. The Hell For Sure Challenge is an aggressive hike with miles of travel over rugged, unmarked terrain, and is not advised for inexperienced backpackers. Expect roughly 30-35 miles of on-trail experience, and an additional 8-12 miles of off-trail travel. Treks begin departing in late June when spring like conditions may still persist in the Sierra. Consequently, each itinerary may be modified to account for varied trail conditions and to ensure the safety of your group. Please contact us for custom dates or corporate/group pricing. Typical group size of 6, including one guide. Maximum group size of 15, including two guides.
Evening before departure
On the day of arrival, you’ll be welcomed into our Shaver Lake, CA cabin like family. Swing by when you arrive in town. Driving in after work from the Bay Area or Southern California? No problem, we can accommodate late arrivals. The evening before departure we’ll host a one hour group orientation and pack-check on the cabin grounds. At orientation we’ll hand out gear that was requested. We’ll have a campfire if conditions permit, and get to know our team, before retreating indoors for a cozy night’s sleep.
Day 1 – Courtright Reservoir to Disappointment Lake
Trail: Begins at 8,600′ and ends at 10,300′ with multiple stream crossings; long moderate-to-intense uphill
With an early, 6:00am departure from Shaver Lake, we’ll drive out to our trailhead near Courtright Reservoir where our hike begins with a long and gradual climb toward the Red Mountain Basin. Our pace will be brisk, as we cover over 13 miles of trail across meadows and through streams, to Disappointment Lake, which never disappoints.
Day 2 – Disappointment Lake to Red Mountain, and more
Trail: Stiff climb(s) to 12,000′, then descent, majority of day off-trail
A moderate early morning hike will take us to Hell For Sure Lake where we’ll leave our packs and begin our up and back, off-trail scramble to the summit of Red Mountain (~12,000′). After gathering our packs, we’ll continue off-trail to make camp below Lucifer’s Saddle, near Devil’s Punchbowl. If trail and group conditions permit, we may also bag Mt. Hutton (~12,000′) on this day, and alternative routes and campsites may be used.
Day 3 – Lucifer’s Saddle to Mt. Hutton, and more
Trail: Breathtaking and intense uphill, then down, majority of day off-trail
We will summit Mt. Hutton (~12,000′), weather and trail conditions permitting, or traverse Bench Valley toward to the south, before returning to base camp, or beginning our gradual descent towards the Kings River.
Day 4 – Return to Courtright Reservior
Trail: Reconnect with loop trail, and exit, moderate downhill
An early start will get us back to Courtright Reservoir after lunch where we will reload cars, and return to the town of Shaver Lake to share a hearty group meal. A final stop for showers at our cabin in Shaver Lake is optional, then its home to brag.
Pre and post-trip accommodations: Pre-trek accommodations in Shaver Lake, CA are included (multiple occupancy cabin – everyone will have a bed, but not everyone will have a room). If you’d like to arrange for accommodations on your own that is ok with us, please let us know where you end up! Post-trip accommodations are not included. If you’d like to stay at the cabin an additional night, please contact us to make arrangements and inquire about rates; additional fees required.
Transportation: If traveling by air, Fresno Yosemite International is the preferred airport. It is approximately a one hour drive from the airport to our staging area in Shaver Lake. Rental cars are available, or please contact us to inquire about arranging private guide-supported transportation to and from the Fresno Yosemite Airport. If traveling by car, it is a roughly 4 hour drive from the Bay Area, and 5 hour drive from Southern California to Shaver Lake. On the morning of departure, we will carpool and caravan for the one hour drive from Shaver Lake to our trailhead near Courtright Reservoir.
Arrival time: When scheduling flights or planning your drive, ideally, please allow enough time to arrive no later than 7pm the evening before your trek begins so that you can attend the pre-trek orientation (scheduled at 7:00pm at our Shaver Lake cabin). Driving in after work from the Bay Area or Southern California? No problem, we can accommodate late arrivals.
Departure time: We plan on exiting the trail between 1pm and 3pm on the last day of the trek. Please plan your return transportation accordingly. If flying out of Fresno on the same day, we suggest scheduling flights for departure no earlier than 6:00pm. Staying one additional night in the Clovis, Fresno or Shaver Lake area is also popular option.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
Joining a TSX experience is easy. Don’t own a backpack or tent? Not a problem. We provide backpacks, tents and sleeping pads for those who need them, at no additional charge. We also take care of all group items like pots, stoves, food, food storage, water filters, first aid and more. Your guides will do the cooking and dishes. Just show up with your boots and personal items, ready to hike!