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Trip Report from Early August-2013 - Dusy Basin and Beyond

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Trip Report from Early August-2013 - Dusy Basin and Beyond

Postby scrotata » Sun Mar 02, 2014 12:28 pm

So, I have tried to post this trip report several times and either a dead computer batter occurred, I made a mistake and deleted everything or something else unexpected happened. I live in Northern California and had never backpacked south of Yosemite until this trip. What this means is that I have to pay some serious thanks to folks on this website for their reports and information available so people like me can do some research and learn about the area.
My trip report probably summarizes an area that either many have already ventured to/through or one that people choose not to venture through because it is not isolated enough. Either way, I have to say that I enjoyed my time off trail the most!!

Day One:

We started on the road driving down from Sonoma County, drove through Yosemite and encountered a lot of smoke. However, once in Bishop the smoke was essentially non-existent.
Since we were both coming from practically sea level (164 ft.) we wanted to break into the elevation slowly and acclimatize a bit. We left the South Lake trailhead late in the day and hiked just a few miles to Mary Louise Lake, a simple, charming, uninhabited lake and spent the first night in the backcountry there.

Day Two:

Woke up early to start the day! The plan was to only hike over Bishop Pass and then into Dusy Basin to one of the unnamed lakes heading towards Knapsack Pass.

It was a great day of hiking, perfect weather and when we went around the Chocolate Lakes we had this most spectacular view looking back. It was a simple moment, but this picture has captured me and I now have it hanging in my office.

LIO_9424 (2400x1590).jpg


We eventually made if over Bishop Pass, stopping for lunch at the summit and looking over the scenery and understood that a wonderful adventure was unfolding. In Dusy Basin we started to cut over towards Knapsack Pass we before the chain of lake at the lower portion of the basin and had a lake in mind. Once we got to our destination, we set up camp, went for a swim, took some pictures and settled in for the night.

Day Three:

We woke up to a spectacular sunrise and headed off towards Knapsack Pass.

LIO_9537 (2560x1696).jpg


The route finding was pretty straightforward and I had a lot of fun climbing over some pretty substantial boulders.

LIO_9559 (2560x1696).jpg


Once over the pass, we started towards some of the Barrett Lakes so that we could head over Potluck Pass. The hiking from Knapsack to Potluck was perfect weather, not a person around and the lakes were pristine! We had lunch at the summit of Potluck Pass and then meandered down to Lake 11672’ to stay for night.

LIO_9618 (2400x1590).jpg


Day Four:

Headed over Cirque Pass in the morning, had a few stupid route finding issues on the descent and tried to complicate things, but after we figured out the mistake, it was easy hiking down to the JMT where there were plenty of people. We stopped for lunch and then headed up and over Mather Pass.

LIO_9737 (2560x1696).jpg


The view from the summit was awesome, and we continued on into Upper Basin and cut over towards Amphitheater Pass to stay at the lake just below the pass. It was a windy afternoon, but otherwise clear and spectacular.

Day Five:

Now the goal of the trip was to get to Amphitheater Lake and then cut down to the JMT and head back through Dusy Basin and out to the trailhead, and so far everything was going as planned. Scary!!

LIO_9804 (2560x1696).jpg


We made it up to the top of the pass and saw several routes down, this one appeared to be where everyone goes, it was a rather steep chute and we could not see what was below. For some background here, at the time of the trip, my wife was 23 weeks pregnant with identical twin girls, and I promised not to do anything that I was uncomfortable with, and at that moment, I was not comfortable with that route or any other routes down, so…. We turn around.

LIO_9807 (2560x1696).jpg


We went back up over Mather Pass on the JMT, down the Golden Staircase and lost thousands of feet of elevation and stayed in the valley for the night. There were lots of trees!

Day Six:

This was a day of gaining the elevation back and we hiked along the JMT a few miles and then headed up into Dusy Basin and towards a lake we hike by on Day Two and stayed there for the afternoon and did some swimming, fishing, photography and general relaxing. Now, this was a Thursday and all day hiking and climbing into Dusy Basin I had this feeling that something was wrong at home with my Wife, it was a feeling I could not shake, but it was there.

Day Seven:

We woke up early and headed over Bishop Pass, hiked along some pristine and smooth lakes and made it to trailhead and car. It was a great feeling!!!

LIO_9993 (2400x1590).jpg


So, now started the real adventure of driving home and as soon as I got cell reception, there was a message from my wife, left the day before that at her scheduled ultrasound the doctors noticed a serious case of twin to twin transfusion and sent her down to UCSF for fetal laser surgery. This is essentially when blood vessels are connecting the babies resulting in one of the babies stealing fluid and nutrients/blood from the other baby. This is a risk to both babies because one has too much fluid, causing the heart to work too much and the other bay has too little, causing the heart to work too much.

I was able to talk to my wife on Friday morning, and the surgery was scheduled that afternoon. I drove straight to UCSF and arrived just after the successful surgery finished. A nerve-wracking ending to a great trip!

Fast forward several months and lots of doctor visits later, 2 beautiful healthy babies were born on November 21, 2013 and now are super healthy 3 month olds.

Needless to say, my wife is a little cautious of me going in the back country again, next time; I hope to travel with my daughters and wife as well.

Thanks for all the help in putting my trip together and hope to see some of you either on the trail or better yet, off the trail!

Enjoy!



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Re: Trip Report from Early August-2013 - Dusy Basin and Beyond

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Mar 02, 2014 12:41 pm

Thanks for the trip report. I believe the pass you looked over is not Amphitheater Pass, but the unnamed one between Upper Basin and Amphitheater Lake. Last summer I considered going over this pass when I was at Amphitheater Lake, and looked up to it from one of the upper lakes just below. I recognize the slanting rocks! I too am curious if anyone has done this pass and what it is like.
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Re: Trip Report from Early August-2013 - Dusy Basin and Beyond

Postby scrotata » Sun Mar 02, 2014 1:06 pm

That pass looking down, I meant to say that I was not sure what the name of it was or even if there was a name. Some trip reports that I read, I thought called it Amphitheater Pass or even Upper Basin Crossing/Pass, but I obviously could be mistaken all around.

The first part looked completely "doable" but I did not have enough vision to see a further route down, and figured to cut my losses and know my limits and turn around!
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Re: Trip Report from Early August-2013 - Dusy Basin and Beyond

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Mar 02, 2014 1:23 pm

The lower part of the pass is just a lot of miserable talus. When I was looking up at it, the top part was that had me concerned. I ended up going down to Deer Meadow and then took the JMT back to Upper Basin. I am glad I did that because I had never been on the Golden Staircase, which was amazing. I camped at Palisade Lake, which was also really nice and produced enough fish for dinner.

Amphitheater Pass goes from Dumbbell Basin to Amphitheater Lake. To get to Dumbbell Basin from Upper Basin, you have to go over Frozen Lake Pass into Lakes Basin and then over Dumbbell Pass into Dumbbell Lakes.

Congratulations on the babies! I am glad they are healthy. I bet they are really cute too.
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Re: Trip Report from Early August-2013 - Dusy Basin and Beyond

Postby LMBSGV » Sun Mar 02, 2014 5:46 pm

Thanks for the great report and photos. I've camped at the Dusy Basin lake you stayed the first night twice with my family - it's my favorite lake in Dusy.

Is the pass from Upper Basin to Amphitheater this one:

viewtopic.php?f=31&t=8326

Looking at the map, I was considering it this year, but when I saw the photos and the fact WD, who has a lot more knowledge and experience on that kind of terrain than I do, didn't do it on her trip last year, I decided this was not something for me.

Congratulations on the twins.
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Re: Trip Report from Early August-2013 - Dusy Basin and Beyond

Postby richlong8 » Mon Mar 03, 2014 10:05 am

Thanks for the great trip report to some nice remote locations. I am glad things ended up well for your family. It brings back memories of arriving 30 minutes before my son was born! Your good judgment not doing that cross country pass is appreciated. I have always thought it is more important to take the routes that get you home safely.
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Re: Trip Report from Early August-2013 - Dusy Basin and Beyond

Postby maverick » Mon Mar 03, 2014 5:24 pm

Scrotata wrote:
We made it up to the top of the pass and saw several routes down, this one appeared
to be where everyone goes, it was a rather steep chute and we could not see what was
below. For some background here, at the time of the trip, my wife was 23 weeks
pregnant with identical twin girls, and I promised not to do anything that I was
uncomfortable with, and at that moment, I was not comfortable with that route or any
other routes down, so…. We turn around.


Yes, that is Upper Basin Crossing: http://www.highsierratopix.com/high-sie ... p.php?fs=1
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Trip Report from Early August-2013 - Dusy Basin and Beyond

Postby scrotata » Mon Mar 03, 2014 6:03 pm

Maverick,

Thanks for the info, a couple of questions on that route/pass/crossing:

The chute I am referring to is a fairly steep "V" shaped channel that is maybe 30-40 ft. long and then it empties out in talus and it appears there was another steep drop after that. Is that the case or does it only moderately drop-off?

The initial chute was a bit daunting, but not being able to see further below it was the main reason we turned around as we didn't want to head down, get ourselves in trouble and then have ascend what we just went down.

The other question is are you aware of other routes from the same pass heading into Amphitheater, my buddy scouted another route, but he found it to be equally as precarious and was not willing to try and talk me into it.

Reason I am asking is that I would like to head back to Amphitheater some day, either through a similar route or a completely different route altogether.

Thanks.
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Re: Trip Report from Early August-2013 - Dusy Basin and Beyond

Postby maverick » Mon Mar 03, 2014 7:43 pm

Following that ledge system down on the western side is the easiest/safest way
down. Yes, there is another way down but it involves class 4/5 climbing. As CG
mentions in his post it is best to descend further north and down before traversing
back towards that the bottom of the chute. The boulders are loose and one should
take their time to descend towards the lakes.
Would recommend following Cataract Creek up into the basin, much easier and safer
route.
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Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Trip Report from Early August-2013 - Dusy Basin and Beyond

Postby Mike M. » Mon Mar 03, 2014 11:28 pm

Maverick, your link above is for an area somewhere near French lake and Pine Creek Pass.

Scrotata, yes, that is the pass Secor calls Amphitheater Pass, also known as Cataract Pass or Upper Basin Crossing. For what it's worth, Secor says to "descend the west side of the pass by zigzagging down ledges about 100 feet, then descend diagonally toward the north around a corner to an exposed ledge marked by an white dike. This ledge leads to a huge talus chute that descends to Lake 3447 m (11,283 feet)." This description jives with cgundersen's description included in the HST cross country pass database. In other words, don't take that narrow chute you see from the ridge -- look for a safer way to get to the point where the chute fans out to a talus field leading to the lake below.

WD, Cataract Creek Pass is the pass leading from Amphitheater Lake to the Dumbbell Lakes basin.

Mike
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Re: Trip Report from Early August-2013 - Dusy Basin and Beyond

Postby maverick » Tue Mar 04, 2014 11:19 am

Mike wrote:
Maverick, your link above is for an area somewhere near French lake and Pine Creek Pass.


Interesting, when I click on it it shows the correct location for the pass. :\
Here is an alternative if that link doesn't work for the OP:
http://sierrabackpacker.com/Vennacher.htm
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Re: Trip Report from Early August-2013 - Dusy Basin and Beyond

Postby Shawn » Tue Mar 04, 2014 12:14 pm

Very nice trip report and pictures. Sure glad to read that the wife and twins are okay.

we went around the Chocolate Lakes we had this most spectacular view looking back. It was a simple moment, but this picture has captured me and I now have it hanging in my office.


This does capture a nice moment. Funny thing, when I worked in a corporate environment lots of people had pictures of mountain scenes hanging in their office. When in the back country, I have yet to see a picture of anyone's office hanging in their tent. :D
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