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Hi, I was wondering if anyone has up-to-date information about the conditions on Split Mountain. In particular, how is the road to the trailhead, is it still as bad as the info online seems to suggest, was it affected by the rain/flooding this spring?
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From California Peaks Facebook Page:
For what it is worth and hike your own hike, I've kind of gotten the sense that Split via the least technical routes kinda sucks. The geography nerd in me notes it is a 14er due east of my house, but the explorer and mountaineer in me always ends up elsewhere. Have you ever ventured up Taboose Pass? That is a painful dayhike too due to the descent, but Crater Mountain, White Mountain, and Wynne-Pinchot traverse are a few of many scenic, fun, long hikes from there. I can link reports/pics from those or mention other ideas if interested.A little trip report on Split.
...Once you're on the McMurray road the only tricky part left is crossing Tinemaha creek. There is a rock bed sitting on top of it but it dips down quite a bit so any low and maybe even medium clearance vehicles could bottom out. Also, for larger vehicles with only 2WD, it's a sharp turn crossing the bridge and you could get stuck with no traction to go in reverse so cut it as close as you can. If you're worried you can park at a lot near here and hike it since it isn't too much farther but I saw a 4-runner, Jeep Compass, and another Tundra at the trail head.
Once beyond there, it is only paint eating brush that is your peril. These bonzai-looking bushes that are a dark green in color and thorny stick out into the road and scratch your **** up. I recommend a tarp along the side or blankets. If you're in a narrower car they can mostly be avoided or you could slowly slide through them.
Before you begin the hike, I highly recommend 3 liters of water as there is none until a good 2500-3000 feet up. You'd think 2 is enough but it is hot and sun-exposed so you and your water get warm quickly.
The correct trail head is at a spring just north of the parking lot. There is plenty of water here so fill up. We followed the use trail up the creek and soon it ended. At some point it apparently traverses back south along the ridge and dumps you into the Red Lake Canyon but we missed that turn off and went way too high. Then we had to traverse the steepest, sandiest slope ever and I nearly quit and went back to my car. Fortunately, we did eventually find the trail and were able to descend to it but it sapped a ton of energy so try not to make this mistake!
On the way out just as you round the final corner back onto the east face of that slope, follow a steep sandy trail straight down to the car parking lot. You can "ski" this in 5-10 minutes and save yourself a lot of time. The only drawback to going this way was I never got to see the proper trail all the way back to the spring. Do not try hiking up this on the way in.
From here on, I would describe the Red Lake trail as more of a use trail than a real trail. It is narrow, damaged in many places from the heavy snow season, and thoroughly overgrown with at least five different species of thorny bushes. Fortunately, there are cairns all over so it is difficult to get lost. I recommend you wear pants as my legs got pretty torn up.
Once at Red Lake the hike is fairly easy. You've got another 3500 feet up an obvious series of gullies and slopes with surprisingly not too much sand. Then once on the proper ridge make sure to remember where you came up and not drop into the wrong chute. This area is already marked with cairns.
Coming back down we were able to glissade down several hundred feet of snowy slopes although our butts were all red from the rocks bleeding into it. Walking out was easy and took about 6-6.5 hours from the summit.
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I was up there the other day....Aug 27th....from Mather Pass it was an easy walk. There was a little snowpatch, easily avoided, near the north peak on its northern side. Splendid view. I think the summit register was moved to the southern peak of Split, requiring a climb.
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