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How to catch a Sierra sunrise from 11,000 feet -- without making that hideous climb

How to catch a Sierra sunrise from 11,000 feet -- without making that hideous climb
One of the sunrise views from Lakes Basin Overlook atop Mammoth Mountain. (Peter Morning / MMSA)

To catch most high-elevation sunrises in the Sierra, you have to slog your way up a trail in the dark and hope to find a viewpoint before dawn. Now there's an easier way.

On Saturday, Mammoth Mountain ski resort for the first time will take visitors up to the summit at 11,053 feet by gondola to see the sunrise at 5:33 a.m.

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At the top, you'll stare into the mountain's volcanic past, seeing formations such as the Red Cones (basaltic cinder cones), the iconic Ritter Range -- with views of the Minarets and Ritter and Banner peaks -- and the Lakes Basin.

During your time on top, you can take a yoga stretch class, go on a guided nature walk to the Lakes Basin Overlook and receive photo tips from Mammoth's photographer Peter Morning. (He's the guy that provides all those great snow shots on the resort's website.)

You'll also receive a hot beverage and a pastry for your journey.

Tickets cost $15 for adults, $10 for kids 13 and older, free for children 12 and younger.

The gondola starts operating at 5 a.m., with a session on photo tips at 5:15 a.m.

If you want to walk down, take a three-mile hike along the Dragon's Back Trail that switchbacks through the forest and ends at Twin Lakes Campground. (You can catch a trolley back to Mammoth Village.)

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