Colby Pass History and Route

We recently discovered a Sierra Club trip report on Colby Pass from 1920. If you have hiked the route over Colby Pass, this is definitely something you’ll appreciate. Looking up at Colby Pass from Colby Lake, the route can appear intimidating. There’s no doubt certain moments and experiences from the route are seared into memory.

Here is a memory from the summer of 1920. The Sierra Club trip report titled Colby Pass and the Black Kaweah by James S. Hutchinson provides insight into trail life, mountaineering and exploration of the western Sierra that is now known and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park.

Where is Colby Pass

Colby Pass is located on the ridge line of the Great Western Divide between Triple Divide Peak and Centennial Peak in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range. It is among the most remote and least traveled passes in the Sierra. The western approach typically departs from Horse Corral

Historical Perspective

For background, imagine it was 1920, and you were tasked to find a shorter route to Mt. Whitney. Sierra Club legend William Colby gave you a tip that a certain pass might be a good place to look. So you round up the mules, some friends, and some help, and head out from Horse Corral, making your way to Roaring River, up Cloud Canyon and to Whaleback. This is the account of that journey as memorialized in the Sierra Club Bulletin of January 1921.

The route over Colby Pass was full of obstacles, but each obstacle was met with firm resolve, good humor, and ultimately celebrated with the “Feast of Colby Passover,” a ritual every future Trans-Sierra Xtreme Challenge experience will duly honor.

We hope you enjoy the read.