From the Red Lake Trailhead, follow the trail for 5 miles to Red Lake. Some parties report getting off-trail, but if you are careful and observant, this should not be a problem. The trailhead begins near a spring, about a hundred yards north of the parking lot. There is no parking adjacent to the start of the trail, but many cars have apparently driven up there (only to turn around) trying to do so.
The Red Lake Trail has many loose sections in the lower part, and you may wish it had been built with more switchbacks. Higher up, it goes through a few unexpectedly lush wet areas, complete with a jungle trek experience even in late summer, thanks to some springs that supply the water. This is the easiest place to get lost, so watch for cairns marking the route in several key locations. Particularly on the way down you may find yourself thrashing through the undergrowth. If it is difficult at all, you are off the trail. This is the only source of water between the trailhead and just before Red Lake, so fill up if you are low.
A short way before Red Lake, the trail arrives at a smaller lake. From here the trail is harder to follow. It follows the north shore of the small lake and stays on the right side of the creek on the way up to Red Lake. The trail officially ends somewhere before Red Lake, but several use trails exist to reach the lake. Even without a trail, travel is easy in this area and it is impossible to miss Red Lake.
Once at Red Lake, look for an established site if you are camping overnight. If you have lots of daylight and plenty of energy, or if you are on a dayhike, continue past Red Lake following the lake inlet to the boulder filled canyon above and to the right.
Above Red Lake, the route is generally either strewn with large boulders, or steep and loose with lots of sand and rock ready to rain down on anyone below you. You are best to choose those areas that have vegetation or more solid rock, though this is only found in the section immediately above Red Lake.
Depending on the snowfall for any given year, and what time of year you climb, you will find varying degrees of snow in the upper canyon. In either case, it is easier to climb to the right of the headwall where the route is less steep and shorter. If you enjoy climbing snowy couloirs, you can find these to your left. Some are more than class 3, so be careful!
Secor rates the route up to the North Slope from the east as class 3, but in a dry year in August, we found it no more than steep and loose class 2. Once you reach the top of this ridge, you might be surprised to find you are not on the Sierra Crest, but on a NE ridge leading up to it. Follow this ridge to the crest, then climb the seemingly endless boulders on Split Mtn's North Slope to the summit. Many of these boulders are loose, so caution is advise, particularly since you're likely to be tired at this point.
No special gear is needed, excepting ice axe and crampons which may be needed early in the season.
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