Author: Don Otis
Split Mountain is 14,058′ — a multi-colored and serrated peak that looks unclimbable from the east. Ken Emerson and Don Otis climbed to a notch above Red Lake (10,500′) on August 30, 2015 and then made our way up the east slopes to the summit. It was out fourth 14er in a month and ended a long journey for me (Otis) of trying to complete all 66 in the contiguous U.S. The class 3 route is fairly straightforward and once you reach the crest the views are some of the best in the Sierra. To the north is the Palisade group — Middle Palisade, North Palisade, Mt. Sill, and unranked peaks like Thunderbolt, Starlight and Polonium. To the south we could see Tyndall and Williamson as well as Russell and Whitney. Other than the massive fire in Sequoia, we had excellent visibility in the morning. By afternoon the smoke came over the crest and choked the peaks before settling in the Owen’s Valley. If you climb, beware that Red Lake Trail is the lowest and least maintained of the high peaks. While it is not difficult to follow, it is a grind for the 5 miles (4,000′) into the lake. I would not attempt this as a day hike. The lake is pleasant. The way to the pass is also fairly direct but once you reach the saddle turn directly west until you reach the western slopes. The class 3 section is perhaps 200′. The last 800′ on the west side is easy — if such can be said above 13,000′! Be ready for a rough ride to the TH and a poor trail. Otherwise, Split is a fun climb. Total gain from TH – 7500′. Total mileage: about 14 roundtrip.