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Boots Up, Head Down, Go: Split Mountain

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Boots Up, Head Down, Go: Split Mountain

Postby MooseTracks » Mon Mar 24, 2008 12:53 pm

I need a new sign or two for the pack: No Whining has served as a great motivator, now I think I need 'Go Hard or Go Home', paired with the title sentiment. But once again, when we got to see the rewards for all of the work involved, every moment, grunt, groan, heavy breath, and tears (yeah, I cried) were worth it.

I was originally headed to the Valley this past weekend to meet up with the 'rents on one of my family's biannual pilgrimages, but then I saw Kevin Trieu's post of heading for Split. About five minutes later I got an e-mail from my friend Paul saying "Hows about them apples?" and wouldn't I prefer to do that? He didn't have to twist my arm all that hard to convince me to go.

We met up Saturday morning along McMurray Meadows road, about 3.5 miles in, since above that there was snow on the road. We piled into Ben's 4WD and Kevin's 2WD (high-clearace Toyota Forerunner) and headed out. Had to do a little road maintenance along the way, and have seven people pushing Kevin's truck up the snow slope, but we made it...

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Paul was the big winner in the "how heavy is your pack" category, since he decided to take his skis along. Even I was looking at that load and grimacing! Besides, I was in charge of champagne and other goodies...

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We started up just before 9 a.m. and it was already getting hot. NOTE TO SELF: do NOT go straight up the first face in front of you. Traverse to the left!! Look for the dang trail!! If not, you'll get the wonderful warm-up of almost 1000vf of a snow slope and then have to descend most of that to come back down to the trail. Oops... Beyond 7500ft, basically everything is covered by snow on the south side of the trail. We chose the bushwhack option on this trip. When we finally came around to Red Creek, we were greeted with quite the face(Red Lake is beyond the top of this shelf):

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So, slowly and steadily, we all climbed on up. Paul tried to use his skis, I attempted to use my snowshoes (a bit too mushy for any real help, so they just ended up as training weight). When we crested the bench, we got a stern looking over and evaluation from Split as he presided over the canyon:

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We made it into camp around 6 (Yeah, that's a 9 hour ascent. Ouch!), falling to task with digging out tent spots, erecting the tents, and making dinner. I had brought some beef burgundy, but I just couldn't stomach it, or much of anything else, for that matter. At least the bourbon that Alex brought made me all warm on the inside... :) (Oh what the hell, my mini-nalgene of Gentleman Jack went down pretty well, too!) We fell asleep quickly, wiped out from the day's beating.

Easter Sunday dawned gloriously:
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We hit it by 6:30 a.m., and it was calm and clear for our ascent. The snow was firm and solid under our crampons, and there were only a few spots where kicking steps became a bit of trouble. The route heads into a coloir that reminded me of the MR, only much more open and, well, forgiving, if a slip were to occur. There's a saddle at 13K, where we regrouped before climbing up the north slope to the summit:

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Yes, I did take my turn at cutting steps, thank you very much:
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When we reached the saddle, a chill NW wind was blowing, but not too badly. The summit is mostly snow-free, no crampons really needed above the saddle 'cuz it's mostly a scree/rock scramble. By noon we were on top, the wind suddenly stopped, and the entire frozen Sierra, north to south, lay spread beneath our feet.

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Alex, Behzad, Moosie, Kevin, Ben, and Hakno:
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(Paul had gone over to do Prater instead, since he already had climbed Split, so he missed the festivities, but he yawped at us and we back at him from the peaks!)

Of course, this being a 14er, there was champagne!

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The descent back to camp was a blast, and done in around 90 minutes (6 hours up)!! I got in some wonderful glissading, first in the lower portion of the coloir, then on each successive bump down. Woohoo! It was OK by me to have a frozen patoot since the reflective heat off the snow was turning the area into an oven.

Coming all the way out, we stayed on the south side of the gulley, and then had a bit of trouble finding a place to cross the creek, but what's a little more bushwhacking between friends? It was a long, slow descent on wobbly, noodle legs, and more than once I slipped and found myself happily exhausted in the snow (except for once when I found a bottomless posthole, that's NOT so much fun). Back at the cars, I had snuck my little cooler with beer into the back, so our first group enjoyed the BEST BEER EVER while waiting for the others:

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(Don't worry, the others got their when they came out a short while later!)

I want to thank Kevin, Wendy, Paul, Hakno, Ben, Alex, and Behzad for an unforgettable trip. This was my first 'winter' (OK, I know it's 'spring' but someone was saying that if there's enough snow...) ascent of a 14er, and what a blast! I'm having a little trouble walking today, but I'm sure I'll get that worked out of my system by next weekend!

Rest of the pics are here.

-L :cool:
"Why do I climb? Quite simply because the mountains and I had to meet." - Colette Richard

http://www.flickr.com/photos/moosepics621



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MooseTracks
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Re: Boots Up, Head Down, Go: Split Mountain

Postby cgundersen » Mon Mar 24, 2008 1:13 pm

Moosetracks,
That's an inspirational report! From the looks of it, there will still be plenty of snow in June, which is the earliest I'll get back into the country beyond.
Thanks!
CG
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Re: Boots Up, Head Down, Go: Split Mountain

Postby Snow Nymph » Tue Mar 25, 2008 1:32 am

Laura, that’s awesome! You’ll have the 14er list completed in no time! Congratulations!

:D
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free . . . . Jim Morrison


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Re: Boots Up, Head Down, Go: Split Mountain

Postby giantbrookie » Wed Mar 26, 2008 6:49 am

Awesome trip and report. Here I (and others) complain about cabin fever while you're out doing Split in fine style. You've sent a great message to those of us who sit in the lowlands and merely gaze at the skyline or topo maps!
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: Boots Up, Head Down, Go: Split Mountain

Postby Ranboze » Sun Mar 30, 2008 1:02 pm

Congratulation Laura on a fine snow ascent of Split! WOW! =D>
Walking outside is where I find what's inside.
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Re: Boots Up, Head Down, Go: Split Mountain

Postby MooseTracks » Mon Mar 31, 2008 6:32 am

Thanks so much, gang. It was a wonderful adventure. I've been wanting/needing to do something big for a few weeks now, and this was a great opportunity! And I've been staring at the topos, too, but now with the weather having settled down for the most part, it's time to play!

See y'all out here!

-L :cool:
"Why do I climb? Quite simply because the mountains and I had to meet." - Colette Richard

http://www.flickr.com/photos/moosepics621
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Re: Boots Up, Head Down, Go: Split Mountain

Postby Trailtrekker06 » Tue Apr 01, 2008 9:18 pm

Laura! GREAT! You kick butt! Congrats! =D>
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