Iron Mountain, Red Top Mountain


By: Gordon MacLeod

Go-leaders Gordon MacLeod and Dave Underwood and one participant (Barbara Lilley) met at Devils Postpile on a beautiful September day. (One potential participant had to cancel due to injury; another "fell through the crack" because the schedule misidentified who to contact.) The trio backpacked to a camp near the trail crossing of the stream coming from Anona Lake, where King Creek descends in spectacular cascades. En route, a side trip was made to climb the Granite Stairway. The devastation caused by the big forest fire west of Mammoth Mtn. a couple of years ago was still in evidence.

Sunday, we headed for Iron Mountain. Upon discovering that our chosen route via Anona Lake would require both ice axes and crampons (which Just happened not to he available, we crossed the ridge south of Anona Lake (near Pt. 10.101') and descended 700'. After a long tedious talus climb near the ridge crest (north of Pt. 10,821'), we finally reached the summit. On the descent a better route was found about 300' below the ridgeline. A long contour was made to the trail west of Granite Stairway which we followed hack to camp, arriving Just after dark.

Monday, we backpacked north and east along the trail that crosses the outlets of Holcomb and Beck Lakes to a saddle a mile SE of recently named Red Top Mtn., which is shown as Pk. 10,532' on the Devil's Postpile 15' topo. The 7-1/2' map has placed the name on the wrong peak!. After climbing the peak, we chose a cross-country route via Lost Dog Lake to a camp on Minaret Creek which was fortuitously crossed on a large log Jam.

Tuesday, we hiked the old road/trail to the Minaret Mine and beyond to a point where we Judged that our chosen route to the high point of volcanic ridge would, alas, require ice axes and crampons. Since alternate routes also seemed likely to require the aforementioned devices, we punted and backpacked out to the cars. In spite of the fact that this was the opening of deer hunting season and a number of hunting parties were in the area, only one gun shot was heard during the four day period.

No register or cairn was found on the summit of Iron, so we left both. Register thieves are apparently cruising the Sierra; SPS climbers might consider carrying register containers and notebooks on their peak climbs. Summit registers have proved useful, even lie saving, in search and rescue operations.

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