Prices rise July 1st.
Hell For Sure Challenge
Rated 5.00 out of 5 based on 9 customer ratings
(9 customer reviews)


Deposit of $450/person
Deposit of $450/person


Prices rise July 1st.


The Hell For Sure Challenge may be the most exhilarating long-weekend backpacking trek you ever encounter. Discover an oft unspoken of region of the Sierra south of Yosemite, and north of Kings Canyon, brimming with jagged granite cliffs, dark pitted canyons and burnt-red mountains while passing more than a dozen high Sierra lakes, including Hell For Sure Lake on a four or five day guided looped route. Our route includes two hand and foot scrambles to ~12,000’ peaks along the Le Conte Divide, with unrivaled views of the Sierra Crest. You won't find this route in any guide book. It's an experience we created out of love for the region, and for people in search of new adventure. Expect roughly 6-8 miles of off-trail travel. While the trek is intense, all experience levels are welcome, but you must be motivated!

Note: Our September 12-17, 2019 trek will include a summit of Mt. Goddard.

What’s included

  • Arrival-night lodging and orientation in Shaver Lake, CA (multiple occupancy cabin) on start date
  • Guided four day (aggressive) or five day (less-strenuous) backpacking 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, sleeping bag and pad if needed
  • Inspiration for a lifetime
  • Complimentary transportation from the San Francisco Bay Area or Fresno/Clovis area to our meeting point (optional)

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 $450 deposit per person is required with balance due 60 days prior to the event. 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. Contact us for custom dates or corporate group pricing. Typical group size of 7, including one guide. Maximum group size of 12, including two guides. Beginning in 2019, an additional 4% charge will be applied when your reservation is made to offset new fees mandated by the U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service.


We will meet at a designated cabin in Shaver Lake, California on the day of arrival (listed start date). This is a roughly 3-4 hour drive from the Bay Area, 4-5 hour drive from Southern California, or 1 hour drive from the Fresno/Clovis area. Guest are welcome to arrive between 3-7pm for a pack-check and subsequent evening orientation and safety talk around a campfire. Complimentary transportation is available from the San Francisco Bay Area (REI Dublin) and Clovis Fresno area (Fresno Yosemite International Airport). Please contact us for details or to make arrangements.

Watch this video to experience the view from the top of Red Mountain.


Evening arrival, pack-check, overnight at cabin

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 High Meadow

Trail: Begins at 8,600′ and ends at 10,300′ with multiple stream crossings; long moderate-to-intense uphill

With an early, 5:30am departure from Shaver Lake, we’ll drive out to our trailhead near Courtright Reservoir where our John Muir Wilderness backpacking adventure begins with a long and gradual climb toward the Red Mountain Basin. Our pace will be brisk, as we cover miles on good trail to camp near a high meadow between Fleming and Disappointment Lake, which never disappoints.

Day 2 – High Meadow to Red Mountain, Hell For Sure Lake

Trail: Stiff climb(s) to 12,000′, then descent, half of day off-trail

A moderate morning hike will take us to Hell For Sure Lake by lunch, where we’ll enjoy our afternoon. An optional up and back, off-trail scramble to the summit of Red Mountain (~12,000′) will be on the schedule. If trail and group conditions permit, we’ll begin our ascent toward the Knob of Mt. Hutton for camp with views of Artic, Horseshoe and Hell For Sure Lakes.

Day 3 – Off-trail traverse of Mt. Hutton and Bench Valley

Trail: Breathtaking and intense uphill, then down, majority of day off-trail

Weather and trail conditions permitting, with an early morning start we will Stomp, Shimmy and Hustle off-trail over The Knob of Mt. Hutton (~12,000′), traversing rugged granite terrain. We’ll continue off-trail toward lake-studded Bench Valley. Our 4-trail-night Hell For Sure Challenge treks will reach camp mid-day near Holster, Bullet and Wahoo Lakes. Our 3-trail-night treks will continue the Bench Valley traverse for camp near the Kings River.

Day 4 (Extended Itinerary Only) – Sunrise hike to Gunsight Pass, then traverse of Bench Valley

Trail: Optional sunrise hike to Gunsight Pass, then down, majority of day off-trail

We’ll start the morning with an optional off-trail scramble to Gunsight Pass to catch the first rays of sunlight filtering into Goddard Canyon. After returning to camp, and a hearty breakfast, we traverse off-trail through Bench Valley to Horsehead Lake, before beginning our gradual on-trail descent towards camp on the Kings River.

Day 4/5 – Kings River to Courtright Reservior

Trail: Reconnect with loop trail, and exit, moderate up and downhill

An early start will get us back to Courtright Reservoir around 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 it’s 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: Complimentary guide-supported transportation to and from the Fresno Yosemite Airport, as well as the San Francisco Bay Area (REI Dublin) is available at no additional charge. 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 also available. 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. Complimentary guide-supported transportation is also available from the Bay Area (REI Dublin). On the morning we begin our hike, 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.


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!

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9 reviews for Hell For Sure Challenge

  1. Rated 5 out of 5

    Neeral Dodhia

    The Hell for Sure trip is an incredible experience! I absolutely loved every minute of it. I went in thinking it would be a “backpacking” trip but found that the “Challenge” in TSX Challenge has the most emphasis. On my trip, we went through many terrains from forest, meadows, tundra, rocky, snow, lakes. It was beautiful and so much variety. Despite the difficulty of the terrain and trail, which had significant portions off-trail, we always felt confident in our guides, Chris and Jenny. They gave very practical advice when summitting Red Mountain and the Knob of Mt Hutton. The views were stunning. I’ll never forget Hell for Sure lake, partially frozen with patches of thick and thinner ice. The hues of blues and whites were incredible. I had my first taste of snow, using crampons and glissading. So much fun and I enjoyed seeing my progress and confidence increase throughout the trip. As a vegetarian, I was a little nervous about what I’d be served to eat but I needn’t have worried. Chris and Jenny prepared delicious meals. I surprised myself by jumping into lakes, so much fun despite the cold water. I was impressed by Chris’ knowledge of the land, it was as if he knew it like the back of his hand. I’d thoroughly recommend Hell for Sure challenge to anyone.

  2. Rated 5 out of 5

    Ting C

    The trip was incredible! Trekking through woods, meadows, and granite rocks, we were greeted by lots of serene lakes along the route. Our wonderful guides, Dirk and Sani, took great care of us. Such a memorable adventure!

  3. Rated 5 out of 5


    Awesome route! Loved the hiking and seeing the gorgeous views all around us especially overlooking the lakes. I enjoyed the challenge of the off trail sections – definitely feel empowered when you get through each section and finally to the top! We had a fun group and Chris, Amy and Dirk took great care of us. I would definitely go again!

  4. Rated 5 out of 5

    Martha Holbrook

    What an experience of a lifetime! Our guide, Chris, provided the best trek ever! As this is my third trek with TSX, and the other two were fabulous, it’s hard to beat the inspiration of those two trips, but he did. Hell For Sure was challenging with every day being different in terrain and beauty. Breathtaking views on and off trail and I earned it. Oh, and did I mention how well we were fed? Superb menues and so tasty. Hell For Sure surpassed my expectations and provided me with some personal firsts. I’m a Happy Trekker!!

  5. Rated 5 out of 5

    Kenneth L Kann

    “Most people don’t choose to go to Hell,” a friend observed days before departure for my second TSX challenge. I went to “Hell For Sure” with guides Chris and Amy, and it was an exhilarating journey. We hiked deep into the John Muir Wilderness with its towering granite peaks, alpine meadows thick with wild flowers, dense forests, lush valleys, pristine icy lakes, glaciers above and below, and often no other people in sight. We camped in stunning locations, over 10,000 feet for three nights, hiked adventurous off-trail routes for several days, and scrambled over the Mt. Hutton “Knob” at 12,000 feet, an adrenaline pumping climb. Chris said we would do things we never before had done, and, sure enough, that’s what I did. The extended itinerary gave us extra time to explore and enjoy this extraordinary high Sierra wilderness. And our terrific guides were right there with faultless planning, precise knowledge of the terrain, and all the support you need. Along the way, our group became a team, and that was special. “Hell For Sure is an unforgettable experience. My advice: choose to go!

  6. Rated 5 out of 5


    Another EPIC tsx challenge. Going somewhere i would have never gone if hadnt been for Chris. Pushing beyond your comfort zone is incredibly rewarding! Photos cant even begin to capture the feeling of being out in nature enjoying all that this earth has to offer , the feeling of being one with the world, is priceless. Just do it!!!!

  7. Rated 5 out of 5

    Jan Gazenbeek

    WOW, Awesome.
    When you accept the Hell for Sure Challenge you are in for a special treat and a wonderful experience. The route, partially off trail, is challenging but very rewarding. You hike through varied terrain, forest with lush underbrush, rocky trails, gentle slopes, steep ascents and descents, over ridges, granite slaps with occasionally glacial polish. Beautiful meadows with gorgeous alpine lakes in which you can take a dip to cool off.
    The 360 degree view from Red Mountain is breathtaking. There still were patches of snow which made the trip special and added to the grandeur of the mountain scenes.
    Steam crossings present their challenges but the guides have your back whenever and wherever you need them. You need a helping hand or some encouragement, they are there for you. Throughout the trip you develop great camaraderie and your teammates are supportive and encouraging. Initially you might be focused on your goal but the interaction with your teammates is an important byproduct which you will cherish. The team dynamics make this trip very special
    So what are you waiting for? Decide and add a fantastic life experience.
    Thank you Chris, Amy and Dirk for your guidance, support and not least of all for dealing with all the logistics.
    El Tanko (trail name)

  8. Rated 5 out of 5

    Jaclyn Sherry

    I had my first ever backpacking experience with TSX’s Hell for Sure Challenge in June 2018. I was honestly blown away. The trip came with incredible views, support, and challenges, as well as a well-earned feeling of accomplishment. So many lakes! Such diverse landscapes to take in! Chris, Amy, and Dirk were excellent at accommodating and motivating the group, and I can’t wait for my next excursion with them. Go on this trip!

  9. Rated 5 out of 5

    Greg L

    I backpacked with Chris to Hell For Sure this past September 2017. We overnighted at Disappointment Lake and Horseshoe Lake. Chris doesn’t mince words when he names his treks. The trans-sierra Mt. Whitney trip I did with him and my 15 year old son in 2012 was “Xtreme.” The Grand Canyon trip I did with TSX in 2015 was a “Challenge,” and this trip was Hell For Sure. The first day I kept thinking, “Where the hell is he taking me?” Then you get back there and you are blown away by the beauty and what you push yourself to accomplish. Awesome, awesome experience. Comfortably pushed me outside my comfort zone.

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