Trip Report
Photo TR: Northeast Arete of Split Mt. (IV, 5.8)
Tuesday July 8, 2008 11:13am
WARNING: Many images

I've been looking at this route for many years and finally collected enough courage try it. Split Mt. being my final unbagged CA 14-er helped the decision process. This route has a reputation for being loose. It is known as a route that Fred Beckey bailed from during the first ascent. Once Fred bailed, his partner Galen Rowell continued to the summit solo. This certainly added to the mystery and excitement. We studied the existing beta in several guidebooks and found it to be vague at best. As we discovered later, most of it was bogus.

On July 4th, my climbing partner Pavel and I, accompanied by our significant others, travelled to Red Lake via a sweaty and unpleasant trail. Fortunately, the approach was not too long; it got old fast.

We started our adventure at 4am on July 5th.

Looking down towards Red Lake and Owens Valley from the approach to the mountain
(c) Misha Logvinov

Alpenglow on the eastern flanks of Split Mt. We climbed the pointy buttress (2nd from the left). Here you can see approximately 1/3rd of the route (5 pitches)
(c) Misha Logvinov

This is how the first third of the route goes
(c) Pavel Kovar

At the 1st pitch belay. Above is the beginning of the 2nd pitch, the most loose pitch of the route. Don't get discouraged here, it gets better.
(c) Misha Logvinov

Looking down the squeeze chimney on pitch 5. Supposedly, this is one of the cruxes of the route (5.8). We found it to be no harder than 5.7 if you stem around the chimney near the top.
(c) Misha Logvinov

The real business was on pitch 6. It features some of the cleanest rock on this route but also has several 5.9-5.10 moves. It is the most obvious way to gain the arete. Not clear if there is an easier way around it but I spotted a ledge on the right side of the ridge that may offer a better passage. Sorry, no photos of it.

At last, we are on the arete proper. Three moderate pitches (p7-9) lead to the base of steep gendarmes that can be climbed on their left side.
(c) Misha Logvinov

Lookin back at p7. Awesome!!
(c) Pavel Kovar

Wicked formations on the ridge, around p8
(c) Misha Logvinov

Topping out on the wild and exposed p10 (~5.8, some loose rocks). On the right side, you can see what's left of East Couloir
(c) Pavel Kovar

We had to do a 80' rap from the top of p11.

Looking down on p6-12 from near the top.
(c) Misha Logvinov

A few moderate pitches led us to the top at 6:30pm!

Loooking south from the main summit of Split Mt.
(c) Misha Logvinov

After spending a few minutes on the summit, we descended the regular route (North slope). Awful descent, especially if you have to do it in the dark. Reached camp at Red Lake at 11pm, thoroughly wasted. In retrospect, it was fun, only different.

Northeast Arete of Split Mountain (also known as East Arete of North Summit)
FA: Galen Rowell, October 1976
Elevation: 14,058'
Rating: depending on the guidebook, it is either III or IV, 5.8. We call our way IV, 5.10
Length: 15 pitches (150'+) with one rappel after p11 and one downclimb/short rappel at p14.
Real route beta:

  Trip Report Views: 2,081
About the Author
Misha is a trad climber from Woodside, CA.

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Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Jul 8, 2008 - 11:28am PT
Cool pictures, thanks for the report. Sounds like a nice adventure.
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
  Jul 8, 2008 - 11:29am PT
Misha that route looks insane. Rowell must have been a powerful spirit indeed to solo that thing. At the top of his game and fueled by anger at his friend Fred?

Anyway, THANKS for posting those awesome shots. Very beautiful.

Twas turned back from the couloir over a decade ago, couldn't find a way up the dry first two pitches. We fled and I haven't had the stomach to return since.



Social climber
Oakland, CA
  Jul 8, 2008 - 12:02pm PT
Fantastic! Thanks!

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Jul 8, 2008 - 12:07pm PT
Well done Misha. Thanks for the effort on puting together a report. Way to be bold. Those climbs don't get done much for a reason. An adventure indeed.

Trad climber
Woodside, CA
Author's Reply  Jul 8, 2008 - 12:20pm PT
Thanks folks.

Galen Rowell was a monster to solo this route. No way in the world I'd do that. It may be only rated 5.8 but its exposure, loose rock and overall setting make it a very intimidating proposition.

Much of the credit goes to my climbing partner, Pavel. He is a way stronger climber than I am and having him on the same rope with me made it possible for us to do this route in a (long) day. I can confirm that it is longer and more serious than some of the moderates on Temple Crag.

Would I do this route again? Not a chance... But it was worthwhile to do it once in a lifetime.

Trad climber
  Jul 8, 2008 - 12:54pm PT
Great adventure and TR.


Mudcat Spire
  Jul 8, 2008 - 01:07pm PT

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
  Jul 8, 2008 - 01:14pm PT
I was wondering what you were up to these days. Good one!

Trad climber
Woodside, CA
Author's Reply  Jul 8, 2008 - 03:46pm PT
yo - yo!

Kris - great to hear from you! I hope that all is well. JT this Thanksgiving?

  Jul 9, 2008 - 11:20am PT
Nice work guys :)
Jerry Dodrill

  Jul 9, 2008 - 08:36pm PT
Awesome Misha! Split will be my last 14er as well, and this is my intended line. Thanks for the beta and photos!

Cardiff by the sea
  Jul 9, 2008 - 09:25pm PT
Fantastic trip report Misha!! Looks like you had a wonderful sierra experience. Kick ass !!

Social climber
  Jul 9, 2008 - 09:55pm PT
hey there misha... say, from what i saw this really great stuff... i could see much,yet... as i am dial up... but i just love what i saw so far....

you folks are just the best to share all these trip pics for us stuck-at-home folks who love the greatoutdoors... thanks so very much...
Dr. Rock

Ice climber
  Jul 9, 2008 - 10:15pm PT
I am going to buy everyone an alarm clock, yet another night time adventure, they run about 90 percent.

OK, so how do rig a wicked night time descent with loose rocks, you must to have had to split up a good distance to prevent braining one another with a slice of that rock?

I did not see one good landing spot in case of a fall.

80 Foot rap, is that mid air or Wichita Lineman style?

Looks like trundling heaven, you could blame an accidental murder on loose rock.

See any Rangers?

Awesome photography. You have a high res version of that "Looking Down at P 1-6 ..." with the lake?

Post a link.


Trad climber
Woodside, CA
Author's Reply  Jul 10, 2008 - 11:59am PT
Thanks guys!

Jerry - that's cool, man. Go do this route. Be careful on the first 3-4 pitches; they are loose. The rest gets better.

Dr. Rock - we descended a standard Class 2-3 way. Unfortunately, it got dark half way through it which made things quite interesting. I have to say that this descent sucked royally (steep, loose kitty litter). I had a close call on the descent when I grabbed a huge block (fridge size) that turned out to be loose. It started falling and I barely had time to get from under it. It proceeded to launch down the slope, fortunately without me attached to it. Rangers? Ha - they know better than to lurk around that area.

right here, right now
  Jul 10, 2008 - 12:11pm PT
Way to get to the heart of the matter.

Trad climber
  Jul 10, 2008 - 12:14pm PT
Really nice.

Thank you for posting

Trad climber
  Jul 13, 2008 - 07:41pm PT
Great photos - takes me back., Glen Garland and I did this a few years ago -its a real adventure. We picked it because it had so little information . After the initial wall, the long knifeblade ridge to the peak is amazing. But the route is seriously loose. We bivied on it part way up just to bivy -faces the sunrise.-

Standing Strong

Trad climber
snowshoe thompson history trail
  Jul 13, 2008 - 07:58pm PT

Trad climber
Berkeley, CA
  Jul 13, 2008 - 08:37pm PT
Great report, thanks for posting. Your pics are beautiful!

We climbed to the top of this from the JMT when we did Roper's High Route last summer. Got to the same place, but not nearly as fun... :)

Well done.

Trad climber
Woodside, CA
Author's Reply  Jul 14, 2008 - 10:06am PT
Thanks all!

TomT - cool! Was it your white sling near the top of the 14th pitch (on a short downclimb/rappel)? It looked a few years old.
pimp daddy wayne

Gym climber
Manchester, VT
  Jul 14, 2008 - 11:38am PT
SICK!!!!! Looks like some bitchin times......

Nor Cal
  Jul 15, 2008 - 09:20am PT
bump for quality

Social climber
CHC, en zed
  Jul 15, 2008 - 12:36pm PT

Looks pretty scary.

Trad climber
Woodside, CA
Author's Reply  Jul 16, 2008 - 10:37pm PT
Thanks guys.

Scary it was. Now, when the pain of the approach and descent wore off, I remember the experience very fondly :)

  Jul 17, 2008 - 10:55am PT
Thanks Misha,
I've been wanting to do that route. Looks wild.

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Jul 17, 2008 - 11:47am PT
Wow, I had no idea about this peak or route... Thanks for the awesome report, fuel for my imagination, and another item on the tick wish-list :)

Social climber
  Jul 4, 2013 - 08:07pm PT
As California 14'neers go there something about that roof pendant that makes Split unique. Still a great read.

Trad climber
Living Outside the Statist Quo
  Jul 4, 2013 - 11:31pm PT
An excellent read and thanks for the many fotos.

Good stuff!
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
  Jul 6, 2013 - 08:51am PT
What a great route you ticked off!
Some Random Guy

  Jul 6, 2013 - 11:20am PT
wow just saw this. good work. it's really high on my high sierra list now! looks spectacular.
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