OUTING 1 - Mt. Starr Traverse

North to south Mt. Starr traverse returning via the Mono Pass trail.

East slope route ascends northwest from the Mono Pass trail.
Gully south off the ridge toward Ruby Lake.
West slope route to Mono Pass.
Easier terrain southwest on the ridge.
SSW along the rock spine.
View northwest from the summit to Summit Lake, Pioneer Basin, and Hopkins Creek.
The east slope route follows a sandy chute to the summit.
Gain the north ridge at a broad saddle, and follow easier terrain to the summit.
North from the top of the chute to easier terrain.
At the base of the chute, looking west to the north ridge.
South to Little Lakes Valley from steep ledges.
West from the Mono Pass trail near Mosquito Flat.

(Mouseover triggers interactive features.)

Route Description

Outing 1 Data TableThis cross country route gains the north ridge of Mt. Starr from Mosquito Flat and traverses southwest along the long summit ridge, returning by way of the Mono Pass trail. It's a 5 mile loop, comfortably done in about 7 hours.

From US 395, take Rock Creek Road south out of Tom's Place to the Little Lakes Valley trailhead at Mosquito Flat. Vehicle access is easy.

The weakness ("hanging chute") that provides access to the north ridge is visible from the parking lot, and the lower end is gained by zigzagging up a series of ledges. A short hike up the Mono Pass trail provides a good vantage point marker 1. Remember the lay of the terrain as the path of least resistance becomes less obvious up close.

Leave the trail just past the point at which it branches sharply back (to the pack station) at about 0.6 miles. Ascend ledges, choosing wisely, on Class 2 terrain. Slightly steeper climbing, which may require some use of the hands in places, leads to the base of the chute, and offers a nice view south into Little Lakes Valley marker 2.

The chute rises moderately to the west marker 3, and the going is a bit easier in the rocks to the left than in the loose material center. (Early season this chute is filled with snow and an easy climb on crampons.) An easy ascent up and right from the top of the chute marker 4 gains the north ridge at a broad sandy saddle. This is a nice place for a few pictures. Traverse up (southwest) easy Class 1 terrain from the saddle marker 5 to the true summit of Mt. Starr (12,842 ft).

The east slope route, a not entirely pleasant looking Class 2 chute marker 6, comes in near the summit from the southeast. The summit offers a view northwest marker 7 over Summit Lake to Pioneer Basin and the Hopkins Creek drainage. Traverse SSE along the rock spine marker 8, carefully catching a few false summits along the way (in case they turn out to be higher some day).

Continue the traverse southwest along the south ridge over easier terrain marker 9, or descend the well worn Class 2 west slope route marker 10to pick up the trail at Mono Pass (12,040 ft). (The latter is probably preferable.)

Follow the ridge south until it almost runs out, and then descend an obvious, less than pleasant Class 2, gully toward Ruby Lake marker 11. Be careful not to cut anything large loose here as it may not stop until after it crosses the Mono Pass trail below, which is popular with hikers and pack animals.

Regaining the Mono Pass trail, follow it 2.6 miles northeast, back to Mosquito Flat. Along the way, check out the east slope route, which rises northwest to the true summit marker 12.