Red Slate Mountain
By: Patty Kline
Our group of 9 met at the end of the McGee Creek Road at 8140' on Saturday 8-21-00 at 9:00 am Here are the directions to the trailhead from RJ Secor's book, The High Sierra: Peaks. Passes. and Trails. "This road provides access to the trailhead for the McGee Creek trail. (It should not be confused with the creek of the same name, which is located farther south near Bishop.) Leave Highway 395 about 6.4 miles north of Tom's Place, or about 8.4 miles south of the turnoff for Highway 203 and Mammoth Lakes. Go southwest from Highway 395, cross Crowley Lake Drive and follow the McGee Creek Road for 4 miles, past a campground, to the trailhead for the McGee Creek Trail". (Tom's Place is 23.5 miles north of Bishop-my note.)
This trip was done at a moderate to leisurely pace with ample time for enjoying the majestic scenery and picture taking. It was led in conjunction with the Wilderness Travel Course (WTC). Some of the participants used this trip as an experience trip required for graduation.
We got underway at 9:30 am after trailhead briefings, introductions, etc. The hike on Saturday was to Big McGee Lake at 10,0472', with a gain of 2,900' and 7 miles. The trail started up beautiful aspen filled McGee Canyon. At the largest stream crossing there is a division of the trail. The packers use the wide stream crossing, which at this time of year could be done by 2 footed creatures. We took the pile of logs crossing on the way up and the wide stream crossing on the way back. We arrived at 4:45 pm, after our leisurely hike, feeling refreshed. Before our Saturday night community happy hour some people swam in the cold waters of the lake.
Many tasty appetizers were shared at happy hour. A vote was taken, and Henry Egghart from Reno won first prize (Nalgene water bottle) for his sushi packed in on dry ice. Second prize (mini Nalgene bottle) went to Parvis Esna for his tequila and limes.
Sunday morning we left for Red Slate Mtn at 13,123+ at 8:50 am. It was a 2700' gain and 10 miles round trip, mostly on trail. We hiked about 4 miles up to McGee pass at 11,876± before turning off for the peak. Some of you have wondered why this is a "mountaineers peak" on the SPS list. It dominates the area, with no peaks north of Red Slate in the Sierra being higher than it. To the south it is 8 miles before a peak is higher than Red Slate. The northeast face is a classic class 4 snow and ice climb. Our group took the easiest route. It was class 1-class 2. We first ascended a small rise NW of the pass on a use trail. Soon one comes to a somewhat flat area. Once across this, the route becomes steep again. Stay south of the east ridge of the peak and take your pick of the use trails. We spend a long time on the almost level summit taking pictures and having lunch. A friend of list finisher Doug Bear, Bob Forrest, was with us on top. Bob had come from New Jersey to spend a week doing day hikes, Red Slate being one of them.. We left the top at 2:15 pm and were back in camp at 4:00 pm. Soon happy hour was under way with Sherry Ross taking first prize, and Rich Gnagy second prize.
Monday morning we broke camp at 9:00 am, returning to the cars at 1:00 pm. Most of us gorged ourselves at Whiskey Creek in Bishop for lunch before heading home.
Joe Wankum, as usual, did a stellar job as assistant on this trip. The 7 participants were Parvis Esna, Sherry Ross, Rich Gnagy, David Hankins, Henry Egghart, Bill Siegal and Ron Schrantz.
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