Split Mountain 2012

August 17 – Ascending Taboose Pass

August 18 – Into Upper Basin

August 19 – Below Split Mountain

August 20 – Split Mountain summit

August 21 – To Amphitheater Lake

August 22 – To Dumbbell Lakes

August 23 – Dumbbell Lakes Pass and Cartridge Pass

August 24 – Back Over Taboose Pass

August 25 – Descent Into The Desert


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elevation profile


The main goal for this year's trip was to climb 14,058-foot Split Mountain.  This climb is supposedly the least technical 14er in the Sierra after Mt. Whitney (which has a trail).  Split Mountain is on the Sierra Crest just north of Taboose Pass.  We had done Taboose Pass in 1995, and remember it as being a rough climb out of the desert.  And that it is, with a total climb of almost 6000 feet from trailhead to pass, it starts in the desert on the east side of the Sierra range, complete with sagebrush and a few cactus.  We allocated a day and a half each for the ascent and descent of this pass.

Our original plan was to cross Mather Pass on the John Muir Trail (JMT) after climbing Split Mountain.  But we found ourselves one day behind and instead crossed a pass that I had marked on the map as class 2, but for which we had no more details.  This pass was Amphitheater Pass, also known as "Upper Basin Crossing" by some.  The west side of this pass is a challenge if you don't know the right way, as we found.  But we successfully cut one day and a bunch of elevation loss and regain by crossing this pass, allowing us to complete the last half of the trip on schedule.

Weather was quite interesting this year.  There were clouds every day and some sprinkles at least most days.  We had some hail one afternoon, and a weird overnight thunderstorm one night.  But all in all the weather wasn't really a hindrance for us.  We only hiked in heavy rain on the second afternoon, the other periods of heavy rain were spent in our tents having already completed the day's hiking.  The previous winter had below average snow, and we barely saw any snow on this trip.

Once again I was on the search for pika.  We heard them just about everywhere, including on the east side of Taboose Pass.  They were seen a few times, but didn't stick around long enough to pose for pictures.  Only a single pika, at Dumbbell Lakes, stood still long enough for a few pictures.  The marmots we saw were quite shy, always running to hide.  We saw some fairly tame grouse, including some young ones, on our summit day near the lake.


overview map