RED PEAK (9,307'), SILVER PEAK (8,930'), AND MCCONNELL PEAK (9,099') CLASS 2-3
Location: 4-6 miles SE of Loon Lake
Drive: Same as Tells Peak, Route A, Drive.
Climb: From the parking area, hike back to the main dirt road and go northeast past the locked gate signed, "No Vehicles." After 0.6 mile, come to a three-way road fork. The left fork is signed, "13N22F." Turn right on the unsigned road headed southeast. After 0.7 mile, pass a trail junction marked, "Bassi Creek Trail." Go straight on the main dirt road another 0.1 mile, and come to a sign on the right "Red Peak Trail Desolation Wilderness 1 Lake #3 3 1/2 Barrett Lk 5." Take this faint trail right off the road. At a small meadow, go left across it, following small tree blazes. In 0.4 mile the faint trail crosses a small creek, then passes a fenced meadow to the left of the trail. After 0.2 mile, cross Bassi Creek. A log crossing is 25 feet upstream. After 0.9 mile, a sign, "Wilderness Permit Required" appears. After over a mile of climbing and switchbacking, cross another creek over a log bridge 15 feet downstream. Some rock slabs on the other side make a pleasant break spot. In 0.1 mile more, cut straight across a small, wet meadow. In the next mile, cross three small streams, then skirt the right side of another small meadow. In a few hundred feet more, come to another trail coming from Wright's Lake, and turn left. Cross 2 bogs, then in 0.3 mile, come to Lake No. 3. Leave the trail here. All further travel will be trailless until reaching the Tells Peak Trail 3 airline miles to the northwest. Head cross-country toward visible Red Peak to the east. Cross the lake outlet, and climb up gullies and ribs, then class 2 talus slopes. Going slightly to the right seems easier. On reaching the ridge, the highpoint will be on the left (north) end of the main ridge. Some class 3 moves can be encountered to get there.
To continue to Silver Peak, which is about one hour north from Red Peak, climb down the north side of Red Peak. The arete along the ridge goes well, with some steep downclimbing. Make your way through the scrubby trees and then along the fairly level ridge. Pass the secondary bump on its right, and go around over talus to the summit of Silver Peak. From this point, one may abort this traverse by heading back to Lake No. 3.
To continue to McConnell Peak from Silver Peak, downclimb northward over talus. Try the right (east) side of the ridge to the saddle. There will be a lot of scrubby trees to work through. Climb up the ridge on the other side, staying at first on the right (east) side, then up and over to the left (west) side when the rocks and trees open to allow a route. Head up and over to the flattish bump 9,140+ that makes the highpoint of this massif. The highpoint of McConnell Peak is a small talus pile about 0.8 mile to the north.
To complete the loop, pass the bump just north of the McConnell highpoint, then downclimb on the right (northeast) side of the main ridge. There are class 2-3 moves which require good route finding. Do not drop too low, keeping about 50-100 feet below the ridgeline proper. Cross just below on the right (east) side of the class 3 knife-edge along the low point of the ridge before it rises up to an imposing gendarme. Traverse under this gendarme around to the right (northeast) on class 2-3 ledges, and then 50-100 feet past it, climb up class 2-3 gullies and cliffs to a notch on the ridge. If this is done correctly, the climbing will be easy and pleasant. Cross through the notch, and traverse through, if done correctly, no more than 200 feet of bad brush on the left (southwest) side of the main ridge. Contour around the bump 8,640+ on its left (west) side, and then drop down steeply on the other (northnorthwest) side to intersect the Tells Peak Trail. This runs across on the far (north) side of a meadow and drainage, in the trees. Go left (west) and down, following the trail (reverse of Tells Peak, Route A, Climb) back to the trailhead parking. This should take 2 hours hiking time from this point.
WINTER SKI ASCENT: See Tells Peak, Winter Ski Ascent.
TRIP STATS: Route A, 3,700 feet gain, 16 miles round trip.
Notes: One may also approach
these peaks by a jeep trail from Wright's Lake to climb Red and
From Silver Peak, it is a mile cross-country hike back to Lake No. 3. McConnell Peak can be done from the Tells Peak Trail, following the ridge, and Route A in reverse, southward.