Two Days, Two Peaks....and Some Off Trail Travel

Jeff here.


During our summers Carolyn and I often don't get to spend too much time together because we are both very busy working with Outward Bound California as Instructors and Course Directors. It is amazing work to facilitate 7-30 day backpacking and rock climbing experiences for folks and we often miss out on the best weather for personal expeditions in the Sierra. So, when we get time off together we do our best to plan some type of personal trip together.


This mid July of the Summer of 2019 we planned a one night adventure into the Sierra. We wanted to climb a few peaks, travel in a part of the Sierra that we had not seen yet, and just spend some quality time with each other.


We did a short route out of the McGee Creek Trailhead looping together Red and White Mountain and Red Slate Mountain.


Here is a map:

Day 1:

We did not leave terribly early from McGee Trailhead and walked up to Little McGee Lake by about lunchtime. Then, we cut across the outlet of Little McGee Lake and headed up the broad slopes toward Red and White Mountain. We gained the Sierra Crest and then walked on the Crest to the saddle east of the Peak. Then, we curled around to the south side of the peak and climbed Class 3 terrain to the top. The pictures below show the saddle to the east of Red and White Mountain (left) and being on top of Red and White Mountain (right).

Then, we decided to head down towards Grinnell Lake. We did not research this part of the route and were not sure if we could even make it down to Grinnell Lake from the top. We found ourselves scrambling down a really loose and, at times, very scary chute to the south of the peak. We would not do this again.

After some really sketchy fifth class down climbing we made it onto some snow, scrambled down the rest of the granite slabs, and found our camp site for the night in between Grinnell and Little Grinnell Lakes.

Campsite between Grinnell Lakes below Red and White Mountain

Day 2:

We started the day leisurely again. Then, we walked over the pass between Little Grinnell Lake and Red and White Lake. From here, we dropped down on some steep snow into Red and White Lake, cut across the McGee Pass Trail and walked up the southwest ridge of Red Slate Mountain. This route up Red Slate Mountain is mostly sandy and loose rock.

We then dropped off of the southeast ridge down to McGee Pass, passing amazing patches of flowers along the way, and walked the trail all the way back to McGee trailhead.


Overall, a really amazing trip into the Sierra from the Eastern Side of the range and we feel grateful to have gotten to explore an area of the Range of Light we had not seen yet.