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Ascent of Split Mountain West on 2016-10-30

Climber: Ginger Partyka

Date:Sunday, October 30, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Split Mountain West
    Location:USA-California
    Elevation:1700 ft / 518 m

Ascent Trip Report

The topos on Split Mountain West from peakbagger are off, and more noticeable as you near the peak area of Split Mountain West.

I took a group of 9 total up to this peak. We drove a 4x4 and a RWD high clearance to North Fork Fish Creek Wash to park. The driving route up Fish Creek Wash is breathtaking, and my words won't do it justice. This is a very popular off road area, and we predictably saw plenty of people recreating. After parking, we walked North Fork Fish Creek Wash then turned into Oyster Shell Wash. After walking a bit down Oyster shell wash, we headed into a drainage and then up some loose slope. On our return, we picked a piece of nice slab instead for improved traction. I recommend the slab route (the one on the right in my GPS tracks).

(As an aside... the topo makes it look like you could take Oyster Shell most of the way to the peak. If I ever do this one again, I might give that a go.)

At some point we had a choice to continue on via the drainage gully or up along the ridgeline. My group opted for the ridgeline to gain an extra peak (Split Mountain Peak). On the ridgeline, we encountered some incredible petrified wood and even a petrified wood stump! Had great views all along the ridgeline. As we looked toward Split Mountain West, it was difficult to see a way down from the ridge, but as we kept walking, the way down was never as steep as it looked initially. There was only one slightly tricky portion where we had to lower down about 6 feet of vertical. It was only tricky cause the terrain was loose making feet and handholds questionable. But all 9 made it down safely using a variety of methods that worked for each.

We headed back towards the original gully we would have been in originally had we not opted for the ridgeline. Our hope was that this gully would lead nicely to the peak. We headed easily up the gully only stopping when it looked like it was time to once again gain a ridge. We visually saw a reasonable way to do that, so we went ahead. Once at the top of that ridge ridge, we looked down to our right and there was a dramatic drop off of hundreds and hundreds of feet. Our ridgeline still looked reasonable, so we ventured on. The ridge continued up. One point got a bit loose, but was totally doable by taking the time to pick good footing on what bits of slab there were. And then the ridge got super fun by turning into a solid staircase of rocks before the ridge joined another one. We took this final rolling ridge all the way to the peak with ease.

The group was in good spirits, though my own were a bit fried from navigating. On the way back, one of our more speedy group members took a ridge that looked correct. But after heading that way for a bit, my breadcrumbs were warning me I was on the wrong one. Surprisingly easy to get turned around with all the ridges and gullies! We corrected the error and navigated back to our return gully without incident.

The return gully was AMAZING. Smooth sandstone, vertical slots, and fun bouldery down-scrambling. We took this down until we came to a screeching halt at a 30 ft drop-off. After consulting the GPS, it was clear others had the same issue. We were able to easily climb out of the drainage at this point. We found a bomber piece of easy grade slab and took this down a ways while keeping our eyes peeled for reasonable descent down to Oyster Shell Wash. We found an easy way down the final bit, and with a sigh of relief headed back to our vehicles via nice flat walking.

Overall I think our route turned out nicely. Would recommend it.

GPS Visualization HERE


Summary Total Data
Ascent Part of Trip: Split Mountain

Complete Trip Sequence:
OrderPeak/PointDateGain
1Split Mountain West-Southeast Peak2016-10-301634 ft / 498 m
2Split Mountain West2016-10-30 
Total Trip Gain: 1634 ft / 498 m    Total Trip Loss: 1634 ft / 498 m



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