Ascent of Split Mountain on 2018-10-01
|Other People:||Solo Ascent|
Only Party on Mountain
|Date:||Monday, October 1, 2018|
|Ascent Type:||Successful Summit Attained|
| Motorized Transport to Trailhead:||4x4 Vehicle|
| Elevation:||14058 ft / 4284 m|
Ascent Trip ReportAfter back-to-back outings to Gray Peak in Yosemite (long) and Bloody Mountain in Mammoth (short) over the weekend, Split Mountain was now in my sights. I originally planned for a rest day, but the forecast called for a snowstorm on Tuesday, at one point predicting up to a foot of snow. Despite my fatigue, I moved the hike up to Monday, fearing that it may be the last pleasant day of the season in the High Sierra for me. I checked into my motel in Bishop, had dinner, and studied the directions to the trailhead before heading to bed around 10:00pm -- later than I would have liked, but it would have to do.
I hit the road from Bishop in my Toyota 4Runner rental at 3:45am and headed for Tinemaha Campground, where I promptly got lost trying to find the proper sequence of dirt roads in the dark. I made myself somewhat motion-sick as I repeatedly turned around, reversed, and bounced up and down along the "road." I reached the trailhead around 5:30am, just moments before I would've needed to stop for some air. On the trailhead sign, someone has written a manifesto in permanent marker about how they refuse to get a permit because the trail is in such bad shape. I found it ironic that they would continue to come back at all if they thought the trail was so bad. There are plenty of other fine options, and most have easier access!
I started up the trail at 5:39am, struggling to follow the exact intended path through the steep switchbacks at the start but eventually hitting it in stride as it wrapped into the canyon. After that, I had little trouble following the trail, except for one portion where I went straight up a slope of sand and contoured to find it again. The trail is graded very poorly, and I generally felt that my progress was slow. There was an interesting jungle section through a thick grove of bushes where the creek flowed down the trail. Soon after that, I got my first glimpse of Split Mountain looming high above, reminding me that I still had a good deal of climbing to do. I reached Red Lake at 8:25am, and I stopped to have a snack and examine the route.
I made my way up the first talus slope behind Red Lake and I found myself at the base of the moraine, full of giant miserable boulders. I was able to avoid a portion of it by walking up the snow field, which was soft enough that I was comfortable crossing it without any equipment. I continued up the chute and found slightly more pleasant climbing on the right closer to the ridge. I needed to make a couple class 3 moves, but the route can easily be kept to a loose, sandy class 2 if one so desires. I reached the plateau below the north slopes of Split and, almost completely drained of energy, I made the final easy summit push. I reached the top at 11:39am where I was greeted with a classic Sierra Club summit register and impeccable views all around.
I followed a similar path on my descent, alternately plunge-stepping through sections of sand and downclimbing the ridge. I reached Red Lake at 1:45pm where I took an extended break to have lunch, filter water, and empty my boots. The descent through the canyon was uneventful if not a little boring, and I reached my car at 4:06pm. Clouds were building over the range, and I appeared to have dodged the storm. Not wanting to repeat my drive in, I drove out on the "standard" route, which turned out to be long but not so bad. Back in Bishop, I ordered a pizza and prepared for a proper rest day as the storms rolled in.
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