Red & White Mountain, a favorite peak, sits west of Pioneer Basin, north of the Mono Recesses, and south of Mammoth. Our approach was from Highway 395 via the McGee Creek trail. (Rock Creek Ranger station issued a permit at 6:00am!) There were six of us: Dot Reilly, Leighton Nakada, Peter Rosmarin, Betty Sills, Dave LaPlante, and Roger Crawley.
The trail ascends gradually, following the creek past stands of alder that already had some fall yellow leaves. We camped above Big McGee Lake. All day we watched the rain clouds, and those who walked up to McGee Pass encountered sleet. Before dinner we stretched out on the ground and enjoyed a really, really excellent bottle of red wine that our good, good friend Leighton hauled up, and Dot's chips and delicious chickpea dip. We gazed at Red & White with its white rock band running diagonally through the red rock. It looked tall and dark in the cloudy weather. The evening was chilly, so we turned in before dark.
In the morning we were on our way at 7:30 and scrambled up the slabs at the base. We made our way along the bottom of the scree apron and around to the couloirs on the southeast side. Any of them or the SE face will take you to the high ridge near the summit. We couldn't see this ridge because it was hidden in the clouds. The next thousand feet is fairly steep and features the typical loose rock that PCS'rs are so crazy about.
Red & White (12,850 feet) has an impressive and distinct summit that rises three hundred feet above the ridge. It looks tough but it's just a pleasant scramble on unexposed class 2-3 rock to the top.
It took us three and one half hours to reach the summit. Where we were the weather was beautiful, but we could see rain storms on other Sierra peaks. We were intoxicated from the views and reluctantly left our perch. Our return to camp was timed perfectly to meet a fierce twenty minute hail storm and we giggled as we tried to cram our wet tents into those tiny bags. Some of us finished off the trip revelling in the soothing waters at Hot Creek just before sunset.
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