Red Lake Bowl to Southeast Ridge

Page Type
California, United States, North America
Route Type:
Enjoyable snow climb (or talus slog in summer)
Time Required:
Half a day
Class 2

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Red Lake Bowl to Southeast Ridge
Created On: Aug 17, 2003
Last Edited On: Aug 17, 2003


Drive US 395 to Conway Summit (just north of Mono Lake). Turn west onto Virginia Lakes Road. Drive to the end.

Route Description

I will describe this route assuming there is snow on the ground. I wouldn't recommend this route in summer, as it is fairly circuitous. You are better off taking the NE Ridge route. In the spring, however, this route is the ticket, as it offers some of the best carside skiing in Northern California.

From the parking area, drop down to the largest Virginia Lake and traverse south along its eastern shore. Continue south to Red Lake. In front of you will be an obvious bowl (probably with my ski tracks all over it) that tops out on a long flat ridge that leads from South Peak (on climbers left) to Black Mountain (way up above on climbers right). Cross high above Red Lake by taking the prominent rib that separates it from Virginia Lake. This rib dumps you off in a sparse glade. Switchback up through here until you reach a flat spot about midway up the bowl. This is a good spot for lunch if you are sessioning the bowl on skis. If you are bagging the peak, just head up to the ridge and turn right. There is a little bit of easy scrambling as you reach the summit, but not too difficult.

Ski down the bowl pretty much anywhere you like. The easiest skiing is in the center of the bowl, about halfway between South and Black. The hardest skiing is the steep headwall and chutes closest to South Peak. The run straight down to Virginia Lake through the east chutes is a classic, but quite steep.

Essential Gear

Bring yer skis or board! Crampons are nice for the ascent, especially if you're getting an early start like you should. Ice axe not really necessary if you've got ski poles. Avy shovel, probe and beacon, of course.

Miscellaneous Info

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