Ascent of Split Mountain on 2014-07-20

Climber: Patrick Bergeron

Others in Party:John Ray
Daphne C
Jeff N
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, July 20, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Split Mountain
    Elevation:14058 ft / 4284 m

Ascent Trip Report

See here for a GPX file that shows how to get to the Red Lake trailhead from Big Pine via Mc Murray Meadows Road:

Weather reports from two days earlier cited a 40% chance of thunderstorms after 11am. Apprehensive at the idea of getting thwarted by weather, I had John, Jeff, and Daphne set their alarms to be on the trail by 5am, allowing for plenty of time to summit and get back to Red Lake before 11am. The weather, unfortunately, did not stick to its original itinerary.

From the top of the false saddle, by 6am we could see two large thunderheads forming southeast towards Lone Pine. Damn, guess the forecast was off a bit. Jeff and John caught up and kept going. I waited at the saddle to let Daphne catch up and to have a quick chat about the updated timeline. Her knee was slowing her down a bit, so I decided to go ahead and let her just go at her own pace, however far she felt comfortable. She agreed and I turned towards the moraine ahead.

Soon, I caught up to Jeff and John near the end of the moraine. Lots of big rocks to cruise across. We made our way up the loose dirt/rock to the saddle at 12,500k ft. At this point, the obvious route curves to the left (southwest) and up. This gully ranks between a class 2 or class 3 towards the top but nothing super exposed. Very fun climbing. It tops out at 13,000k ft.

Looking towards the summit to the south, clouds had started to cover it. And with the sound of thunder in the distance, the situation didn't look too appealing. The three of us discussed our options and decided to go as far as possible, turning around as soon as thunder came closer. Or as soon as we got any precip.

10min later, the clouds had reached us, and we were hopping rocks with 50m of visibility. Jeff and I topped out by 8am as we could hear the thunder getting closer. We laughed about the crappy, cloud-covered views and took turns with the register. About 10ft from the register, I found the survey marker. As I knelt down to take a picture of it, I could hear it buzzing. The trekking pole I had in my backpack began buzzing, too. From electrical charge build-up. Not cool.

Not wanting to play the Human Lightning Rod game at 14,058ft, Jeff and I bailed having spent only a minute or two on the summit with no pictures. But John still hadn't made it to the top yet! I shouted down to him to hurry the hell up; we were a little spooked. He wasn't far behind. A few minutes later, I lead us down the north slope as snow and wind started buffeting us.

Unsurprisingly, granite gets slippery with a quarter inch of fresh snow on it. I think all 3 of us had a couple near slips as we headed back to the gully. (I hoped Daphne had turned back to camp already.) It was much quicker going down the gully than it was ascending. Lightning, howling wind, and snow/hail in the face tends to put a little urgency in one's gait.

I found Daphne coming down from the false saddle, tired and a little sketched out from the weather, but otherwise in good spirits. She and I made it back to Red Lake by 945am, with Jeff and John not too far behind. All in all, a memorable day and super fun climb.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:3858 ft / 1175 m
    Elevation Loss:7558 ft / 2302 m
    Distance:8.7 mi / 14 km
    Grade/Class:Class 3
    Quality:9 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
Tent Camp
    Weather:Thunderstorm, Cold, Very Windy, White-out
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:3708 ft / 1130 m
    Extra Loss:50 ft / 15 m
    Distance:2.5 mi / 4 km
    Route:North Slope from Red Lake
    Trailhead:Red Lake  10400 ft / 3169 m
    Time Up:3 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:7508 ft / 2287 m
    Extra Gain:150 ft / 45 m
    Distance:6.2 mi / 10 km
    Trailhead:Red Lake TH  6700 ft / 2042 m
Ascent Part of Trip: Split.20140719 (1 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Red Lake2014-07-19
2Split Mountain2014-07-20
3GPX/GPS Track to Red Lake TH2014-07-20
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Patrick Bergeron
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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