Split Mtn

8-9 Jun 2002 - by Ron Hudson

Six of us met 7AM at Fuller Meadow for this was a CMC (Calif.) trip. We had one Jeep (Matt H's) for the rough road; but it fit 6 packs and 2 people. So 4 of us walked the 2+ miles to Red Lake trailhead. It did take a while to find and cross Tinemaha Creek in its narrow channel. About 9AM we started up the trail. UP, UP, UP (4000'+ gain), but we continued past Red Lake to about 10900'. It had gotten REAL windy. We thought it would be more sheltered up there, but we could only crouch down behind the boulders. The gusts would knock you off balance, or cause you to crash while trying to walk the talus. A few of us congregated for a happy hour (minutes) but it was difficult in the biting cold wind. Patty R. and I managed to get up a tent sheltered behind a rock (half collapsed in the morning). Others crashed for the night in their bivvies. The cold wind ripped through most of the night but did abate by the morning. All were OK.

The route we intended, St. Jean Couloir, looked doable -- it had snow almost its entire length. However, I was skeptical since I hadn't been successful on climbing routes on two recent trips (one was CMC Darwin 3 days before), and the route would likely be icy in the cold after the windy front passed. It just wasn't reasonable to expect our group to get up the class 3-5 route and back to the cars before nightfall on Sunday. Two experienced rock climbers of our group, Matt and Sam P, even had their climbing gear set out but changed their mind because of the conditions. It also was hard to get an alpine start after the wind. So we 5 proceeded (Dot R. had had enough and packed out in the AM) toward the normal class 2 route. It was made more interesting by 3 of us using axes up a 1000' high snow slope and gully. Sam even did front pointing on some 50 degree+ snow. On top in 4 hours, the view was quite enjoyable. Interesting watching the dusty (due to the wind) air mass slowly being pushed far south for nice clear skies.

Pretty quick back down to camp, aided by some nice glissading (at lest 1000') on the softened snow. Left about 3PM for another 4500' more downhill, but on the direct and not excessively switchbacked trail. Flowers were in bloom down lower. Karla W. carried the big rope all the way down. Finally at the bottom, 3 of us and 4 packs fit in the Jeep for the 5 mile ride to the cars. I ran x-c; Sam had started down earlier. We 4 at the cars at 7PM, he hadn't shown up. We drove to look for him, but he had crossed the creek from far down the road (with pack!) for some extra miles and showed up at 8. We were glad we got this 14,000er on what turned out to be a somewhat intense weekend.

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