Red & White Mtn is located in the Mammoth Lakes area between Red Slate Mtn
and Mt. Stanford, at the triple divide point where the Sierra crest meets the Silver Divide. McGee Creek flows off the northeast side, Fish Creek to the northwest, and Mono Creek to the south. Like most of the other peaks in this area, the rock is noted for its brilliant coloring, its great geological age, and generally loose and crappy climbing. The views along the crest and over two sides of the Silver Divide are unique, and ample reward for the effort required to reach the summit.
As an SPS peak
it is climbed fairly often, and even sees several winter ascents each year. The peak was first climbed in 1902 by a party led by James S. Hutchinson via the West Ridge. The class 3 Northeast Ridge, purportedly the best route on the peak, was pioneered by Norman Clyde in 1928. The north side features a 900-foot permanent snow/ice field, unusual for the Sierra region. It was first climbed in 1991 (III, AI1, or WI2) by Tim Pomykata and Catherine Laben. The easiest route up the peak is the class 2 Southwest Face rising from Little Grinnell Lake.
The shortest approach (and only reasonable approach in winter) is from the McGee Creek Trailhead off US395 between Convict Lake and Tom's Place. Follow the trail to McGee Pass for 7 miles. The peak can be approached from either Big or Little McGee Lake.
From Lake Thomas Edison to the south, take the Mono Pass trail northeast, then the Laurel Lake trail north for 3mi to Laurel Lake. A good use trail continues from there to Grinnell Lake. Follow the lake shore to the northwest and up to the hanging valley holding Little Grinnell Lake. This is the approach for the Southwest Face.
The peak can also be approached from Reds Meadow near Devils Postpile. Take the John Muir and Fish Creek Trails towards McGee Pass, leaving the trail at the 10,800-foot level on the southwest side of the pass. Head cross-country east, then southeast following Fish Creek up to Red and White Lake. This provides access to the Northwest Ridge and the North Face.
Red Tape & Mountain Conditions
As with most Sierra THs, there are no fees for parking at the McGee Creek TH. Permits are required for overnight visits in the John Muir Wilderness.
If approaching from Reds Meadow, you will have to deal with the considerable red tape associated with accessing SR203 west of the Mammoth Lakes resort.
Everything you need to know about conditions, permits and regulations can be found on the Eastern Sierra - Logisitcal Center
When To Climb
The peak can be climbed year round, but most often and certainly most easily around the summer months between June and October. As a spring ski ascent much of the tedious talus can be avoided with nice snow cover.
Camping is allowed in most places within the John Muir Wilderness (see Red Tape section for information on permits). Ample camp locations can be found along the McGee Creek Trail in the forested region below Big McGee Lake. A few good sites can also be found in the meadow regions on the north side of the lake. There are fewer trees for protection from the sun here, but they lie closer to the peak. Above Big McGee Lake it is mostly rock and scree making for very poor campsites.
On the south side of the peak, decent sites can be found at Laurel and Grinnell lakes.
"Named by Theodore S. Solomons
in 1894. (Farquhar
: Solomons.) The first ascent was made on July 18, 1902, by Lincoln and James Hutchinson and Charles A. Noble. Once on top, they thought of renaming it. 'being the first to set foot on its summit, it seemed our right to name it as we chose. ... In the end, however, it seemed wiser to make no change. The name has gained a place in the maps, and it is peculiarly descriptive of the great peak of red slate fantastically streaked with seams of white granite. The name identifies the mountain.' (SCB
4, no. 3, Feb. 1903: 200-201.) The lake was first named on the 15-minute quad, 1953."
- Peter Browning, Place Names of the Sierra Nevada