Split Mountain via Red Lake - TR 8/5-6/06 | High Sierra Topix  

Split Mountain via Red Lake - TR 8/5-6/06

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Split Mountain via Red Lake - TR 8/5-6/06

Postby Ranboze » Thu Aug 10, 2006 9:00 am

Joined up with my hiking buddy Ben for this trip. We opted for a BP versus day trip, and that turned out to be a very good decision. We took the McMurray Meadows Rd in, and I thought it was a fine road, I was expecting a lot worse. However, my opinion changed on the drive back out. The drive in didn't even require 4WD, just high clearance. The pipe NW of Fuller Crk is completely covered with dirt and was no problem. On the drive out, there were to steep, rocky sections north of Fuller Creek that just didn't seem so bad on the way down. The first, ~1/4 mile stretch just coming out of Fuller Crk was steep, rocky, and starting to get rutty. Another stretch, further north was steep, rocky and with lots of buckets. I'd say 4WD would be a nice thing to have for both these stretches. We made the drive out in 45 minutes.

The entire trail, from TH to summit was nothing more than commonly described... steep, sandy, rocky, jungly, bushy and with boulder fields. I found it a very unendearing walk. The 2 jungly sections were easy to navigate on the way up, but we made a wrong turn at the more westerly one on the way down, but quickly discovered our error and made the necessary correction. A GPSr would be most helpful for this hike to waypoint end-points of rocky and jungly sections. And, now that I think about it, we did a bush-gully crossing on the way up that we didn't do on the way down - a testimony to the use trails even on the way to Red Lake. We passed a father and son who had attempted the summit but said there was too much snow in the chute for them. I must admit I started wondering if we'd be able to summit. I have not been able to get any beta on this trail this year and I was figuring it was because people just weren't getting up there yet from the east side.

We got to Red Lake in a sluggish 5 hours and made camp at what seemed to be the usual spot on the east side of the lake. A party of 8 returned from the summit and I was more than glad to hear that they were able to make it all the way. At least there was hope for us!

We left camp shortly after 6am Sunday and started the slog up the talus to the saddle above Red Lake. The bowl to the west of the saddle was filled with snow, but it made the walking easier and faster than walking on scree. We chose to not go up the u-notch that the bowl leads to, instead we threaded our way through the more solid rocks up to the ridge, then headed south for the real second saddle. The gully leading to the saddle was snow filled, forcing us onto the class 3 rocks to the right of it. Fortunately, the most challenging section was short and a skill builder. On top of the saddle, and with the summit in view, we lightened our packs and headed up the scree and talus. I think this section was the easiest part of the entire trail. It took a long 5 hours for us to summit.

The summit views were simply spectacular. It was a near cloudless day, which comforted me in knowing we wouldn't be rained on while descending. For fun, I took a portable pulse ox up to the summit, which for the most part indicated my oxygen saturation as 86% and HR 108. We saw 3 people ascending from Upper Basin as we descended. The climb down the class 3 rocks was a bit scary for me, so I donned my new helmet and Ben did a good job of leading the way. The snow in the bowl was a bit too bumpy in the upper sections to glissade, but down lower I got my first opportunity to glissade and practice with the ice ax. Perfect for practice as it was not steep at all and so speed was well controlled.

We packed up our stuff back at camp and hiked out... and it was one of the longest 5 miles, ever. We were tired and sore and the ridges kept coming and coming.

Im not sure I coulda done this one in a day, and I know plenty of people do... WOW, that's all I have to say.

Photos are here
Walking outside is where I find what's inside.

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Postby gcj » Thu Aug 10, 2006 8:40 pm

Awsome pics! Really brings back a lot of memories. I am also a veteran of Red Mtn Creek/ Split Mtn. In the early eighties I drove my VW bus down the Fuller Creek approach. The clearance was almost high enough, but there were some sickening bumps and scraps of rocks against the under-carriage. It was a steep descent and I soon realized that I was past the point of no return and with sweaty palms on the steering wheel and and a lot of, "oh, s***t" exclaimations, I made it to the bottom of that grade.

I was pretty sure that my old bus would never make it back up the creek un-assisted and decided to continue and enjoy the trip and worry about it later. I thought that at worse, I would be in for a long walk/ hitchhike to Big Pine where I hoped to find someone who would be capable (at a premium price, of course) of towing me out of there. Ugh!

I was wishing for some kind of miracle and then at Red Mountain Lake, I got one! I met another group of people who had the key to the locked gates along the road that goes through the ranch! It turned out that they were friends of the ranch owners and they very kindly offered to let me follow them through the ranch upon return to our vehicles. I've rarely experienced this kind of luck! This was the state lottery.

The rest of the trip was excellent with great weather on top and I didn't even mind the fact that we also lost the trail on the way back. (Probably in the same jungly area as described by Ranboze.)

Driving through the ranch was quick and so easy... We then parted ways (with a lot of hand shaking) at US395 (they were from LA and I'm from SF Bay Area). Thank you, Ranboze for bringing back some great memories!
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Postby Trailtrekker06 » Sun Aug 13, 2006 10:51 pm

Ranboze- Nice trip report and pics! Congrats on getting another! I did Split the easy way from Upper Basin, it was still fun, although not as challenging. My hat's off to you!
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