Two weekends ago we took Thor on his second camping trip. We headed out, as usual, to the Eastern Sierra to camp, fish, hike, and bag peaks. Our first night was spent at June Lake where we got to do a little swimming with the pup as well as visit the new June Lake Brewery. It was great fun for Thor who even got to see his first bear!
The next morning we headed out Rock Creek Road to the Mosquito Flat trailhead at the end. Unfortunately it took a while due to traffic delays – be aware of the potential for delays when heading out this road right now! Eventually we parked in a relatively empty lot and I took off for my target of the day, Mt Starr. The hike is beyond Thor’s capabilities right now, so while I bagged the peak, he and David wandered and fished Little Lakes Valley.
I climbed out of Little Lakes Valley and followed the established trail to Mono Pass, enjoying some of my favorite Sierra views along the way.
At the pass, I left the established trail, following a worn use path up the slope of Mt Starr. The summit of Mt Starr is the high point along a long ridge, and the correct high point was not apparent from my vantage point. I decided to follow the use trail and head for the ridge.
At some point the use trail deteriorated and I found myself simply picking the best line through the rocks as I headed up and towards the left. The ridge looked higher in that direction so I just angled my way along.
I popped out on the ridge just to the right of the pile pictured above. I assumed it was the summit and radio’d to David that I’d be down soon. Only then did I glance at my GPS and realize the mapped high point was still a quarter mile north. So I started scrambling.
I scrambled along, checking for a register on the points closest to the waypoint I had in my GPS since I wasn’t sure which one was the actual summit. I couldn’t find anything, so I briefly celebrated with a few photos and selfies from the top of what I thought was the highest point, then had to make a decision on my descent.
In the other direction, Mono Pass below…
From one of the summit piles I could see some nice sandy chutes on the east face. If they went through, it would be a much faster return to the trailhead since it was pretty much a straight shot. I knew there was a cliff band somewhere below, but I think I could see a chute that went all the way. Bombing down sand sounded like a lot more fun than scrambling down the loose rock, so I decided to go for it.
I descended off the north side of Starr down a gentle sandy slope. Eventually I found myself at the head of a few different chutes. I chose the one with the most footprints and ran. SO MUCH FUN! I don’t have many pictures from the descent because mostly I was just running and giggling with arms flailing.
Eventually I reached the rock band. It was mostly easy scrambling with a couple of cracks that could be squeezed and scrambled through. The picture below shows one of about four different sections I had to pick my way through.
Eventually my steep descent chute intersected the original trail, and it was only about a half mile walk back to the trailhead. Much faster than going back via the longer hike, but my legs had more bruises and scratches to show for it! Thor and David were done for the day and we headed out, luckily not catching the construction delays this time.
I went back and looked at my photos from when we climbed Mt Morgan, the peak across Little Lakes Valley from Starr, and found a nice shot of the east face. In the photo below, I highlighted what I believe was my descent chute off of Starr. The chute to the left of it is more distinct, but at the top it looked quite a bit steeper than the route I chose. There were footprints going both ways, however.