Hell For Sure Challenge



Experience the exhilaration of true wilderness backpacking off-trail routes in a slice of heaven south of Yosemite and north of Kings Canyon.

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Our Hell For Sure Challenge may be the most exhilarating and playful backpacking experience you ever encounter. Discover an off-the-beaten-path region of the Sierra brimming with jagged granite cliffs, dark pitted canyons and burnt-red mountains. Enjoy more than a dozen high Sierra lakes, including Hell For Sure Lake, with time to swim, fish and enjoy. Our five day, 40-mile guided looped route includes roughly 6-8 miles of off-trail travel with two hand and foot scrambles to ~12,000’ peaks along the Le Conte Divide (Red Mountain and The Knob). 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. Open to fit and motivated individuals of all experience levels.

What’s included

  • Roundtrip transportation between Shaver Lake, CA meeting point and your trailhead
  • Optional transportation between Fresno/Clovis area and Shaver Lake, CA meeting point for guest flying in from out of state
  • Guided 5-night backpacking trek through John Muir Wilderness to Le Conte Divide
  • All meals and snacks in the back-country
  • Backpack, tent, sleeping bag and pad if needed
  • Personalized pack-check prior to departure
  • Group gear and equipment
  • Post-hike shower
  • Flexible cancellation policy

What’s not included

  • Meals in the front-country
  • Lodging in the front-country, pre- or post-trek

How it works

A $475 deposit per person is required with balance due 60 days prior to the event. Typical group size of 7, including one guide. Maximum group size of 12, including two guides. An additional 5% charge will be applied when your reservation is made to offset new fees mandated by the U.S. Forest Service. Private, family and modified itinerary trips available through TSX Pods. Cancel up until the day of the trip without the risk of lost money. View cancellation policy.

Meeting Point

We will meet at a designated cabin in Shaver Lake, California on the day of arrival (listed start date) between 1-2pm for a pack-check, orientation and safety talk, before we depart to spend the first night on the trail. Shaver Lake, CA is a 3-4 hour drive from the Bay Area, 4-5 hour drive from Southern California, or 1 hour drive from the Fresno/Clovis area. If traveling by air, get into Fresno (FAT) by 11am the morning of and we’ll pick you up! We also help facilitate carpool arrangements for those who need them from the San Francisco Bay Area, and Fresno/Clovis area. Please contact us for details or to make arrangements.

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


Day 1 – Afternoon arrival, pack-check, overnight on trail

On the day of arrival, you’ll be welcomed into our Shaver Lake, CA cabin like family. Need a ride? Let us know and we can help with carpool arrangements. At the cabin we’ll hand out gear requested, complete a final pack-check and talk safety. We’ll get to know our team before driving out to our trailhead near Courtright Reservoir where our John Muir Wilderness backpacking adventure begins with an early evening hike to camp on the trail.

Day 2 – High Meadow to Disappointment Lake

Trail: Long moderate-to-intense uphill, with 1,500′ climb and multiple stream crossings

Our pace will be brisk as we cover miles on good trail with a long and gradual climb toward Red Mountain Basin to camp near Fleming and Disappointment Lakes, which never disappoint.

Day 3 – Disappointment Lake to LeConte Divide

Trail: Gradual uphill to camp near Hell For Sure Lake; up and back day hike to 12,000′ peak

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 camp on the ridge of on the LeConte Divide with views of Artic, Horseshoe and Hell For Sure Lakes.

Day 4 – 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, with time to explore Schoolmarm, Holster, Bullet, Wahoo, Crabtree, and the many other lakes surrounding our Bench Valley camp.

Day 5 – Continue traverse of Bench Valley, then drop to Kings River

Trail: Long gradual descent to all-natural waterpark, majority of day on-trail

We begin our descent on and off trail past Colt, Horsehead, Guest and McGuire Lakes, before a meeting up with the North Fork of the Kings River, and our camp near the “waterpark” with natural pools, waterfalls and slides.

Day 6 – 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.



If traveling by air, Fresno Yosemite International is the preferred airport. It’s a one hour drive from the airport to our meeting point in Shaver Lake, CA. If you’ll need a ride, please let us know! Be ready for pick-up by 11am. If traveling by car, meet us at our Shaver Lake cabin. It is a roughly 4 hour drive from the Bay Area, and 5 hour drive from Southern California to Shaver Lake. We will provide transportation from our Shaver Lake meet-up point to and from the trailhead.

Arrival time

When scheduling flights or planning your drive, ideally, please allow enough time to arrive at our Shaver Lake meet-up point between 1pm-2pm, or the Clovis/Fresno area by 11am if you need a ride up to Shaver. This will allow enough time for welcome activities, a pack-check, and a drive to our trailhead where we will begin our trek that evening before making camp.

Departure time

We plan on exiting the trail between 10am and 12pm 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 3pm. Staying one additional night in the Clovis, Fresno or Shaver Lake area is also popular option.

Pre- and post-trek accommodations (Out of State Guests)

For guest traveling in from out of state, we suggest flying into Fresno, CA the evening before departure and staying at the Best Western Clovis Cole, in historic downtown Clovis or Hampton Inn and Suites Clovis. Both are about a 10 minute cab/Uber ride from the airport. We can pick you up at the hotel on the morning of departure. If you plan on staying somewhere else, please let us know where you end up, and we’ll do our best to accommodate.


Don’t own a backpack, tent or sleeping bag? We provide all major gear for those who request it at no additional charge. We also take care of all group items like stoves, food, water filters, first aid and more. Your guides will do the cooking and dishes. Just show up with your personal items ready to hike!

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