Sierra Mountain Center

California’s premier mountaineering school and guide service – Bishop, CA

Split Mountain in winter. Eric Owen & Michael Barrientos 3.09

with 2 comments

The view to the west from the top of SplitWell, the approach may be better than getting there via the Red Cone Rd. Luckily I had SPs four wheel drive to do it in.The trail starts at a beautiful spring that later becomes a necessary refreshment before leaving. While there is a trail up to base camp, it is south facing and melted out. It starts steep, switch backing quickly for a few hundred feet before evening out and traversing the hillside, keeping a good distance away from the stream. After a long traverse to a fork in the stream(a good refill spot). The trail then turn sharply to head up a mahogany covered hillside. Until another long traverse through a boulder field and into some of the largest foxtail pines I have ever seen. You soon notice that there are boulder the size of beach balls embedded in the trees. You only need to look up to see where they came from- the gullies leading off of Tinnemaha Peak. A half and hour later you find yourself tucked underneath the foxtails around some the the most colorful rock in the range. The gendarmes and aretes are plentiful and allow for the countless hours of viewing as the light changes casting shadows onto shadows until night falls. The trail seems to end at Red Lake and with the summit in sight it matters very little. A slow gradual gain to reach a moraine. Looking over the moraine one finds a impressive bowl with three obvious and one unobvious pass. After crossing the moraine you work your way to the up a bowl to gain a ridge. On the other side one gets a glimpse into the interior of the Range with Bolton Brown staring you in the face. The only option at this point is to tip-toe along a narrow ridge. A few hundred feet along the ridge and one finds themselves standing on the broad north face of Split, with the summit in site. One can see why the JMT runs the valley to the west and over Mather Pass. Some heavy breathing and a walk up a scree slope with every other breath hoping, one does not sprain an ankle and then the  top. Split is a tremendous view point and I was lucky enough to be able to ski off while Michael had to hike down. Its a great climb and only 7160 feet of elevation gain from the trailhead!!!Approaching Red LakeThe east side of Split from Red LakeMichael on the approachSplit Mountain from the trailheadMichael approaching the summit plateau


Written by SP Parker

April 3, 2009 at 1:25 am

2 Responses

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  1. Hey I was planning on maybe snowboarding this peak during spring break. I was wondering if you could give me a heads up on what I will be going up against. How hard is the descent and how technical is the climb? Any additional info would be greatly appreciated


    March 4, 2010 at 8:56 am

    • Main thing is a long hike up there.
      The trailhead is low and the trail steep.
      Once up at Red Lake things get easier.
      The upper part of Split can get stripped by the wind. Last year Eric managed to just link things together. The good thing is that you can look at it form the valley floor with binoculars and see if it is going to be worth the hike.
      We have had strong winds lately and while I have not been down there I would expect the upper slopes to have patchy snow.
      But this is a good snowboard peaks since it is pretty much straight up and then down.
      Good luck.

      SP Parker

      March 5, 2010 at 4:23 pm

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