Split Mountain 2012

To Amphitheater Lake

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

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Our original plan was to go over Mather Pass on the JMT and head down past Palisade Lakes to Deer Meadow, then up to Amphitheater Lake, with one night spent at Palisade Lakes.  But since we were one day behind schedule, in order to catch up we decided to go over a pass that we knew little about.  I had marked a pass on the map with "Upper Basin Crossing c.2," but we didn't have a description that I normally carry for off-trail passes.  The more common name for this pass is "Amphitheater Pass," as labeled above.  It turns out that the pass was easy on the east side, but the west side presented some challenges.  Without knowing the best route, we headed down over ledges through some dicey areas, but luckily made it down ok.  We saw two people headed up a different route on the way down, and had a yelling conversation with them from a distance, finding out that we did not take the best way down--which we already suspected!  But all was well and we made it to Amphitheater Lake to camp and right back on schedule.

We still had an option to head back out via Deer Meadow, Palisade Lakes, and Mather Pass if we didn't want to remain off-trail.  We kept that option open until Wednesday morning...

Journal Entry:  Thin clouds this morning built all day.  Temp at 6am was 39F, much colder than previous mornings.  Headed west across the upper end of Upper Basin to Upper Basin Crossing.  Got to the pass just before noon.  Steeper than expected on west side, ended up following benches down with some class 3.  Arrived at Amphitheater Lake around 3:30.  Two other pairs camped here.  Tomorrow’s plan is Cataract Creek Pass to Dumbbell Lakes.

Lake in Upper Basin

Looking down Upper Basin

Saddle and Split Mountain across the basin

Amphitheater Pass ahead

Rocky terrain on the pass

Amphitheater Lake basin
rightmost lake is Amphitheater Lake

Terrain we tackled going down the west side of the pass

Looking back up at the pass from west side

Upper lake in Amphitheater Lake basin

Amphitheater Lake

Cataract Creek Pass, our pass for tomorrow

Observation Peak above Amphitheater Lake

Cataract Creek Pass from below

North Palisade in evening, Mt. Sill at right


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