TR: Split Mountain 05/17/16-05/18/16 | High Sierra Topix  

TR: Split Mountain 05/17/16-05/18/16

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TR: Split Mountain 05/17/16-05/18/16

Postby BufordT » Fri May 27, 2016 10:56 pm

Back in 2013 I cruised right past Split Mountain when hiking the JMT southbound. Not that it wasn't on my radar, but I knew I would be cutting it close with food. That's my only regret of the JMT - not getting a resupply somewhere south of Muir Trail Ranch, so I could've dawdled longer on the southern half...

When a buddy of mine who has been working on climbing the California 14ers asked if I want to join him for Split Mountain, I readily took him up on the offer.

We live in the Central Valley and drove around to the east side on the 16th to stay at Tinemah Campground. The idea was to actually be well rested prior to beginning a trip. It seems like too often I wind up packing all that I possibly can into limited time off and wind up burning the candle at both ends in the process. This was a nice change of pace. When we arrived at the campground, it was windy and clouds hung over the eastern escarpment:

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Tinemah Campground


After a windy night we were packed up and driving the notorious road to Red Lake TH by 8:00 AM. There is a route to the TH that leaves from the campground. While I know an individual or two has coaxed a regular car over this road, high clearance is almost a necessity. Took about 45 minutes of bouncing along and we were on the trail by 9:00. The trail up to Red Lake is more like a maze of use-trails. Some dead end, and some work out. Going up there were no route finding issues. Coming down we had to backtrack a few times after clearly heading down the wrong path. At one point after trying to "make it work", I had to remove my pack to get untangled from the vegetation:

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Up the Canyon


It was just a slow, steady grind to gain 4000' in five miles to camp at Red Lake. The shoreline of the lake was thawing during the day and freezing at night, while the body of the lake was still ice. Around the lake's elevation (10,500') the snow drifts were patchy as seen in the photo. Clouds were still intermittently obscuring the the tops of the mountains. I like bagging peaks and all, but it's just not the same if there's no view at the top. Had leisurely afternoon at camp which was quite enjoyable:

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Red Lake


We awoke around 4:30 AM the next morning to find nature had smiled on us - clear skies and a faint breeze. Temperature in the low 20s. By 5:15 we were headed up:

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Morning Alpenglow


The first 500-1000' was on talus, then we strapped into crampons for the remainder of the summit. The snow was nice and consolidated. Firm but not icy. Tracks from another party were clearly visible up to the saddle, but must have been a few days old:

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Up to the saddle


Once at the saddle any evidence of previous travel up the north slope had vanished. The snow started to soften, but was still nice for kicking steps in. Solid fields of snow zigzagged through the rocks to the summit making travel relatively easy:

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North Slope


We reached the summit in perfect weather around 11:15. Not a speed record by any means, but we had taken time to enjoy the whole climb. Spent about 30 minutes up top taking pictures. Never bothered to locate a register:

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Owens Valley


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Upper Basin


After about five steps down from the summit, it became obvious the snow was getting sloppy. We bagged the crampons and glissaded whenever possible. Took a little less than two hours to get back to the tents. Pretty good looking butt canal if you ask me:

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Glissade


Neither of us really wanted to pack up and walk out that afternoon, as it was such a perfect day. But grown-up obligations that come with life on the 99 dictated otherwise. Five miles, 4000', a couple turnarounds, and one broken trekking pole later, we were back at the TH shortly after 5:00 PM.
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Re: TR: Split Mountain 05/17/16-05/18/16

Postby ERIC » Sat May 28, 2016 8:27 pm

Nice report. Thanks for posting. Bummer you had to head out sooner than you would have liked.
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Re: TR: Split Mountain 05/17/16-05/18/16

Postby zwoij » Sat May 28, 2016 9:06 pm

Looks great! Nice photos too, even if you have to turn your head sideways for some of them.
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Re: TR: Split Mountain 05/17/16-05/18/16

Postby BufordT » Mon May 30, 2016 11:50 am

Thanks!

All the photos load upright for me...not sure if I'm doing something wrong. Any tips?
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Re: TR: Split Mountain 05/17/16-05/18/16

Postby ExploreABitMore » Tue May 31, 2016 9:04 am

Sounds like a great trip, thanks for posting!
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