This was my end of summer vacation trip. A three day backpack and my usual Whitney dayhike interspersed with soaking and maintenance at my favorite hot spring. I could say it was a celebration of my 40th birthday, but I always go out at the end of the summer, when I take my vacation. As my trips often end up, I went solo. All in all, a good week away from home.
The Convict Creek drainage is a fascinating and beautiful glacial bowl on the East Side of the Sierra Nevada, just south of Mammoth. Generally around 10K feet, with peaks to 13K feet around. As it is not on the granite to the west, most of the surrounding peaks can be scrambled up without great difficulty, also the colors in the rocks are spectacular. Access from either Convict Lake or Laurel Lakes.
After breakfast and partial packing up of camp, I hit the trail at 802am, following the south shore of Lake Dorothy, climbing up to Bighorn Lake [10,603], then up to the edge of the talus slopes below Peak 12,369. The two obvious routes were the NE Ridge (across the cirque) or a gully to the right. I ended up going up the gully, steep, with sandy and loose talus, but not unsafely so, towards the top of the gully, I got off the talus and did a bit of Class 3 which got me to the edge of the bowl [11,800] between Peak 12,283 and the West Ridge of Red Slate Mtn [13,163]. From there it was a walk across to the ridge and up the ridge, soon on a use trail that led up to the summit.
Red Slate Mountain
Around dawn the breeze died, so I went down to the lake to get "Mirror Lake" shots.
from the south shoulder, near the summit.
(larger image: 1473 x 738, 190K)
Red Slate Mtn is the second highest peak in the area, and there are no peaks higher north of it on the Sierra crest. The views are unsurprisingly spectacular, with greater variation in rock (color) than is typical to the west and south there the rock is granitic rather than metamorphic. The McGee Creek Trail is very clear to the south at McGee Pass [11,895]. Obviously, it is a shorter scramble up from the trail on that side, since the trail is at the elevation I reached at the top of the gully. I managed to knock the camera into the macro setting for all but one of the Red Slate images, so every damned pictures is fuzzy.
White Fang Peak from Red
A good view of the colors in the area, in the right background is Boundary Peak, the highest point in Nevada.
Going down, I followed the same ridge down, then traversed across to the the NNW Ridge which was Class 1-2 with careful routefinding to the toe of the ridge. From there I dropped down to the snowfields in the NW cirque and shoe-skied and walked down the snow to Lake Wit-So-Nah-Pah [10,582], over the low ridge to Bighorn Lake and back to camp, having taken 5:32 for the round trip. I packed up my gear and headed down to Convict Lake, leaving Lake Dorothy at 158pm and arriving at the Convict Lake Resort at 402pm. The last half of the hike out, I was encumbered by a long abandoned sleeping bag (Coleman, 7- pounds)...I've never been as happy to see a dumpster at a trailhead as then...it was, of course, hot at Convict Lake, and the muddy sweat dripping down my arm carrying the old bag was most unpleasant. The resort store provided an extremely refreshing Mountain Dew, and I was soon in my car heading to Mammoth for ice and supermarket sushi for dinner. Less than an hour after getting off the trail, I was ensconced in Shepherd's Spring, soaking away any accumulated trouble and soreness.
(at the washed out bridge)
Yet another day of beautiful weather.
About 11.5 miles, 4800 feet of ascent, 6:24 on the trail, mostly cross country. Bunnyhike Rating: 97.
Map of hike location and route detail maps, route in blue and red
Red Slate Mtn Detail Map (260K) - Lake Dorothy Detail Map (125K)
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Home . Trip IndexRed Slate Mountain / Robert Parks / email@example.com / revised September '05