A Ten Year Old Climbs Red Slate Mountain
by Sierra Richins (age 10)

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Related articles--My Mount Whitney Climb by Sierra Richins (age 10), Climbing California's 14,000-foot Peaks (by age 13), An Arduous Cross-Country Ascent of Mount Whitney, Subtitle: Climbing Whitney With an Eager and Athletic Ten-Year Old, California 100, a list of the 100 highest peaks in California.

This article, written by Sierra Richins (age 10), is her account of climbing Red Slate Mountain on a hot July 4th weekend in 1991. The peak is 13,163 feet high and is one of the 100 highest peaks in California. Red Slate Mountain is located south of the town of Mammoth Lakes. The trailhead for the climb begins at Convict Lake off Highway 395. The following article appeared in the Mountain Democrat newspaper on August 26, 1991.

I am Sierra Richins, a ten year old girl that loves to climb mountains. I have climbed nine peaks so far.

On the 4th of July weekend, I climbed Red Slate Mountain (13,163 feet) with Lana Jackson and my dad (Paul Richins). Red Slate Mountain is one of the highest 100 peaks in California and the highest and most difficult peak I have climbed.

We started our hike at Convict Lake (7,580'). The first day we hiked seven miles gaining 3,000 feet to our camp at Bighorn Lake (10,600'). The trail was fairly steep, very hot and tiring.

In about three miles, the trail crossed a side creek and the main stream, Convict Creek. The bridge was washed out so we crossed both of these high, rushing streams by jumping from rock to rock and log to log. Dad carried my pack across and helped me just a little. In another hour of steady climbing we made our way to Mildred Lake (9,800') in time for lunch. It is the first lake on the trail and seemed to be where most people stop to camp.

The trail from Mildred to Dorothy Lake (10,200') became steeper and my backpack heavier. At Dorothy Lake the trail ended. We hiked the last half mile to Bighorn Lake (10,600') without a trail.

After seven and a half long hours, we finally reached Bighorn Lake, where we camped for the next two nights. We were the only ones at the lake. We topped off this hot, tiring day with a snow cone made from a nearby patch of crisp, white snow and kool-aid mix. We all agreed, it was delicious.

The next morning we started our climb of Red Slate Mountain. We hiked to Lake Wit-So-Nah-Pah (10,600') and then climbed up snow fields to the main saddle on the west ridge. We climbed the long west ridge to the summit, class 2 with some loose rock. After four hours of determined climbing we suddenly reached the summit register. We enjoyed eating lunch while viewing the lakes and mountains below.

My favorite part of the trip was glissading down the snow fields. We were able to sit on the snow and slide most of the way from the saddle at 12,000' to Lake Wit-So-Nah-Pah at 10,600' in a matter of minutes! It was exciting and fun!

Climbing the peak was not the hardest thing I did on the trip. The hardest thing I did was to dive into the ice cold water of Bighorn Lake. Snow banks were all around one side of the lake keeping the lake water ice cold. I jumped in and jumped back out just as fast. I was freezing!

The following day we hiked out in five hours. I was very tired but anxious to get to Walker Burger, the best restaurant on the way home. The restaurant has a beautiful flower garden and serves great food. I had two hamburgers, a milk shake and french fries. I was still hungry.

My next goal is to climb Mount Whitney (14,491'), the highest peak in the United States outside Alaska. Dad said that since the altitude did not bother me on Red Slate Mountain that I should be all right to climb Whitney. I sure hope so!

Backcountry_Resource_Center--Paul Richins, Jr.

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