Last weekend I led a 3-day trip to Split, which was listed in the Scree (but was postponed due to the long winter in the Sierras). One person accompanied me on the trip. We summited just after the noon hour on Saturday, June 10.
Driving in from Big Pine, we followed the Forest Service map and directions in a book called "California Fourteeners." We did not have the vehicle clearance to safely cross a culvert, so we had to park and bushwhack for a mile to get to the trail heed. Tinemaha Creek is high, but we were able to easily cross it. We did not see another soul from the time we left Big Pine until the time we returned. However, there were tracks to the summit which I estimate may have been left on Memorial Day weekend.
The trail is very steep and some route finding was required. Flowers were in exceptional full bloom everywhere including the trail itself, until we reached about 10,000 feet, where the snow cover was complete. The snow was well consolidated all the way to the top. We camped in a wind-sheltered area next to Red Lake, at about 10,500 feet.
The climb from Red Lake was completely on snow. There was a few hundred foot class 3 section just before the summit slope that was the most exposed and dangerous part of the climb, although I would not consider it dangerous in dry conditions. On the return, we carefully kicked steps and slowly descended this section. There were fantastic cornices near the route, between Split and Prater. The summit slope was a very pleasant march.
The view from the top was the finest I have ever seen in the mountains (I have climbed Whitney, Sill and Mt. Blanc in France). The back country was completely white except for protrusions of steep rock. Clear views of North Pal, Sill, Middle Pal, the Whites, the Inyos, Panamints....and a particularly impressive view of the Owens Valley were all part of a splendid panorama. The view of the other side of Split was also wonderful.
I have heard that Split is the easiest 14er in California, next to Whitney. I would disagree; I think Langley is even easier than the Whitney trail, so Split should be no less than third easiest. We found the climb was strenuous and I found it very much like my ascent of Shasta on April 1, 1994. Ideal weather made this ascent very enjoyable from start to finish.
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