I just got back from Adair Lake, and after reading the comments from Mike and others about the optimal route from Red Peak Pass, I'd like to add my own.
On the way there, I spent nearly four long, frustrating hours trying to descend 700 feet to Adair Lake from the ridge to the North (waypoints 5131 to 5401 on the map shown below). While planning the trip, this looked like the most gradual route down, and I like gradual. But what I found was that this section is littered with narrow chutes that lead to 15-20 foot sheer, impassable drop-offs. So my day basically consisted of descending 50 feet or so, getting to a ledge, cursing out loud, backtracking 75 feet up, and trying another route. Then repeating. It was not fun or efficient.
While making the descent, it looked like the slope just to the east of Lake 9705 would have been much easier. So on my way up, I took this route (waypoints 5401 to 5601). And it was much, much easier. I had the benefit that the water level was so low that I could cut across a land bridge in the middle of Lake 9705. However, one could easily circle around the north shore of the lake and start the climb from the northeast shore of Lake 9705 (see picture). In fact, it looked like this approach would be less steep than the one I took up. It's basically a bunch of zig-zagging up boulders for the first 300 feet of elevation gain, and then a steady 400-foot climb straight south across slabs, rocks, and grass.
I plan to make it to Obelisk Lake sometime next year, and I will definitely be taking the latter route. On the contour maps I have, it looks like far steeper than the one to the west. But in reality, it's not nearly as bad. Once you get to about waypoint 5541, you should be able to see the path of least resistance.
I plan to write up a trip report on my website (http://lancesimms.com/Hikes/
), so once it's done I'll post a link.