Mt Starr via Mono Pass and west slopes

9 Sep 2008 - by Robert Walton

I left Mosquito Flat at 8:15 and took my time walking up to Mono Pass. The views south from the switchbacks of Abbot, Dade and Bear Creek Spire were wonderful as usual. Also, the crags on Ruby Wall are of great interest to any climber. The weather was clear, though a cold west wind was blowing.

Upon reaching the pass, I turned right immediately and headed up fairly solid scree toward the long NW/Se summit ridge of Starr. Three descending climbers passed me a hundred yards or so to my right. I hit the summit ridge too early and engaged in quite a bit of 3rd class scrambling, fun but not necessary.

I reached the summit at about 11:45 and took a break. The views from this peak are sublime. The Palisades were in fine form and Banner and Ritter were obvious to the north. Most interesting to me was the peek I got into the Mono Recesses, a very challenging area to reach.

I packed up and finished traversing the long ridge. I descended NE on easy, sandy slopes for about a half a mile. I passed the first major East Face couloir (very steep, but do-able) on my right and continued to the second big couloir. I descended this to the SE for some hundreds of yards and then traversed for a short time until I hit the first couloir. It was steep and very loose. A couple of places required great care to avoid an uncontrolled tumble.

I cut the Mono Pass trail about a mile above the Little Lakes Valley junction and reached my car at 2:30. The East Face made for a swift descent route. The loose sand and talus make it a highly unattractive ascent route, in my opinion. All together, this was a fine mountain, much better than I'd been led to believe by various guide books.

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