According to The Complete Guidebook to Yosemite (Steven P. Medley, Yosemite Assn., 1991) Mt. Hoffman is the geographical center of Yosemite National Park. It was named in 1865 for Charles F. Hoffman, one of the threesome who made the first ascent the year before. [Editor: The first ascent of Mt. Hoffman was on 6/24/1863.]
In between rock climbs of the Tuolomne Meadows area, we decided to do a little hiking or peakbagging. I pulled out Secor's High Sierra guide and realized Mt. Hoffman was a Class 2 walk-up. We stopped at Olmstead Point, took photos, acted like tourists, and marveled at the sublime view: Tenaya Lake and a multitude of domes to the East, Yosemite Valley to the West - dominated by the imposing Half Dome. With binoculars, we could clearly see folks headed up the cable route.
We drove to the May Lake trailhead, and told my brother (who would just day hike to May Lake) we could do Hoffman RT in three hours, even though it seemed to loom so high overhead. We stuck to our return time of three hours and started hauling ass. We x-countried to a gully which seemed to offer the only reasonable approach before reaching May Lake (a little Class 3 scrambling) and sure enough, we hit the "trail". From there it's totally straight forward to the summit (and the radio repeater !!!!) on it. Outstanding views, as concurs Secor. Mt. Hoffman has a virtually vertical north face for at least 1000 feet straight down to some lakes (didn't identify). A dizzying view. 360 degree views to Triple Divide Peak, and many peaks south and East, Minarets, many others to the North. We leisurely enjoyed the summit alone, even though Secor says many hike it (the "trail" shows it - damn cairns every ten feet, even though the "trail" is quite obvious). Pete Yamagata had placed a brand new register just 2.5 hours before our arrival. We were the third or fourth entry.
We blazed down, taking a "short-cut" which was kinda the wrong way. We had to traverse around the half the flank of the mountain, then pick our way through easy but improbable looking cliffs (linking up ledges and ramps) and dropping back into the basin. Still had to cross a creek and find the trail. Continuing, practically running, we hit the trail and actually passed three people who passed us on descent while we were still on the way to the summit. Hit the truck in right around 3 hours RT. I was impressed with my partner and myself. Never have I more haphazardly x-countried a Sierra peak and been more right on. I didn't pull out a compass once, and only looked at the map one time. We hauled ass on the thing, and looking back at the peak from the parking lot, it didn't seem possible.
If you're in Yosemite NP, especially on the Tioga corridor, do yourself a favor and spend a couple of hours to do Hoffman. The views are sublime.
Aaron Schuman adds:
> "On no other Yosemite Park mountain are you more likely to linger." John Muir
> Hit the truck in right around 3 hours RT.
You forgot to linger!
Michael Gordon replies:
Oh shit - thanks for reminding me. Muir would probably let me off the hook though, as I just found that quote by doing a search in Alta Vista right before I posted the report. I didn't know I was supposed to linger!