Red Slate Mountain
July 2, 2020
20.2 miles, +6,700’
For the fifth hike of my week of day hikes from Mammoth I chose Red Slate Mountain, a 13,140’ SPS-listed peak on the Sierra Crest just north of McGee Pass. This peak holds the additional Mountaineers designation on the SPS list, though that was likely granted because of the peak’s North Couloir, a 2,500’ 40 degree couloir rising from Constante Lake, just north of the peak. I would not be climbing that way as I didn’t have an ice axe or crampons, and it’s not generally so much fun to climb routes like that in July in California. I opted instead for the class 1/2 route from McGee Pass, which would require almost 10 miles each way to McGee Pass before getting to the base of the “climbing route.”
I was off early enough, at 7 AM, but sun bathed the east-facing valley, with Mount Baldwin high above. A trail runner jogged past, I understand this is a pretty popular spot for trail running as the trail is in good condition and rises quite gradually most of the way to Big McGee Lake.
I didn’t take many pictures on the way up as there wasn’t too much to see, but the views improved once I hit the meadow below Big McGee Lake. That’s Red and White Mountain directly above Big McGee Lake.
Continuing on to Big McGee Lake through some lovely timberline country.
Red Slate Mountain above McGee Pass. The route to the summit follows an occasional use trail along the path of least resistance to the summit.
There were a few groups of hikers coming and going from McGee Pass, including a family of 3 (dad and sons) who arrived at the pass from the other way at about the same time I did. Dad was quite excited and wanted to relay stories of all the fish they caught at Tully Lake and how awful the mosquitoes were (he was from Minnesota, so he should know he told me). His panting and apparent lack of interest in social distancing made me less interested in hearing these stories, so I headed up towards the peak over easy tundra and broken rocks.
Another thousand feet of easy climbing following an occasional use trail and I was at the summit, with a great view to the south. McGee Pass and the trail are quite easily visible, as are the Mono Recesses behind Red and White Mountain, which still held a large snowfield.
To the west, the Silver Divide rose above the lakes at the upper end of Fish Creek. I believe the tallest peak there is Mount Izaak Walton.
The view to the north of Lake Dorothy and the Convict Creek drainage was very impressive.
Blood Mountain, which I had climbed two days prior.
More of the Silver Divide.
South again, to Red and White Mountain, the Mono Recesses, and even Mount Darwin and Mount Goddard on the horizon.
More summit views, including Mount Baldwin and Mount Morrison, from a different angle than usual. After a while enjoying the summit to myself I headed back down.
The Skypilots were in full bloom.
Nearing McGee Pass again, those switchbacks come up the west side of the pass.
One more view of the Silver Divide before dropping back to the McGee Creek drainage.
Little McGee Lake. I saw one small campsite here. The camping at Big McGee Lake would be much better.
I stopped at Big McGee Lake to soak my feet and have a snack. It was pretty warm today, and I debated a swim, but chickened out after dipping my feet in.
A nice shot with some building clouds over Red and White Peak. On the way down, my stomach bothered me a bit, I think from an overly sweet snack and the heat. But it settled after a while. Again, I took few pictures going through this area as it was not a very scenic area, though it was nice to walk through the forest and sagebrush.
I reached the parking lot after about nine hours. There were lots more groups milling about than in the morning. I headed off on my way, to do some research for tomorrow’s adventure.