Harrison vs. Pants Pass | High Sierra Topix  

Harrison vs. Pants Pass

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!
User avatar

Harrison vs. Pants Pass

Postby Fishstick » Thu Mar 27, 2014 6:43 pm

I took a group over Pants Pass a few years ago and discovered it was about the limit of my comfort zone. This year (late summer), I have Kearsarge to Whitney permits for 8 am hoping to take the group over Harrison Pass. I was hoping someone who had been over both could offer a comparison of the two passes. Thank you.



User avatar
Fishstick
Topix Novice
 
Posts: 18
Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2012 8:35 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Harrison vs. Pants Pass

Postby maverick » Thu Mar 27, 2014 7:16 pm

If Pants was at your limit, than Harrison is going to be equal or maybe a little bit
worse, unless you enjoy steep, loose talus. Pants upper is sandy on the eastern side
and once you get on the scree it is fun to slalom down, Harrison's talus on the other
hand is annoying and steep, which is why it is a little easier with snow on it.
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
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8050
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Harrison vs. Pants Pass

Postby Fishstick » Thu Mar 27, 2014 7:45 pm

Thanks. We went up the west (nine lakes) side of Pants. It was a long slog, but did not seem particularly technical (except for the couple in out group that took the right side class 3 chute for the upper 100' to the pass). Uphill was loose sand and required some attention to footing, but not really dangerous. We would be going over Harrison from north to south, so it looks like the slog would be on the uphill climb and then it looks pretty easy from the pass to Lake South America. I'm ok with a miserable slog uphill, just wanted to make sure it wasn't any more technical or dangerous than Pants.
User avatar
Fishstick
Topix Novice
 
Posts: 18
Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2012 8:35 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Harrison vs. Pants Pass

Postby RoguePhotonic » Fri Mar 28, 2014 7:24 am

Well one major difference in slogging up Harrison is you don't have nearly as far to climb and you don't have the massive amount of scree that Pants has on it's West side. Harrison is much more sand. When I climbed Harrison I never at any point felt unsafe on the pass but it was one of the most physically demanding hill climbs I had ever done.

When your closer to the top you do have the option to scramble on some rock to get out of the sand.
User avatar
RoguePhotonic
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1668
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 9:52 am
Location: Bakersfield CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Harrison vs. Pants Pass

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Mar 28, 2014 9:15 am

I have done both, but hard to exactly compare, because I went up Harrison and down the south (loose) side of Pants. It looked like going up would be quite miserable.

I would say Harrison is easier, simply because the difficulty is only on the north side. I slogged up Harrison with an ungodly heavy pack, wearing tennis shoes. I had an ice axe, and found it really useful even though I was not on snow. I literally jammed the ice axe nearly all the way into the soft sand and then used it as a handle to pull up. The only concern I would have for Harrison, is that in my opinion, it is dangerous if in a saturated condition (immediately after a large rainstorm or during the saturated phase of snow melt). I could see it producing a mud slide. I also recall getting to the base of Harrison Pass, the "trail" has been covered by avalanche debris and was not easy. Just be sure you allow enough time to get from the trail junction to the top of Harrison Pass. I recall (but would not bet my life on it) that I stayed to the left edge going up. I remember that there were several more solid sections that I could stop and rest.

I would have more anxiety going down Harrison than going up. It is steep enough that a tumble would be serious. I feel more stable going up a steep slope than going down.
User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 2610
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Harrison vs. Pants Pass

Postby Kelbaker » Fri Mar 28, 2014 11:22 am

I have done Harrison twice going down and Pants once going down to Nine Lakes. I remember Pants as not being as bad as Harrison. First time we went down Harrison it was a wet year and was still choked with snow and ice in August and was a little dicy at the top, the second time we went down was a dry year and was not nearly as bad but there was a lot of loose rock. I would not like taking a large group over Harrison because of rock slides. If you do this be sure to leave enough space between hikers. I remember a few years back Back Packer magazine featured a story about Harrison Pass. At the time when I read the article I was thinking it was harder then they made it sound and I would not recommend this route to inexperienced hikers.
User avatar
Kelbaker
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 27
Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2010 4:00 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Harrison vs. Pants Pass

Postby cgundersen » Fri Mar 28, 2014 4:04 pm

Hi Fishstick,
My recollection is that past discussions of Harrison have veered all over the place, and as Daisy pointed out, it will in part depend on the conditions when you get there. It's a bit of talus slog to get to the base of the climb (assuming you're going N to S), and on my two times up I have hugged the left side till the last ~100 ft and then traversed to the low point. Keep in mind that old topo maps show a trail through there (probably, from before Forester was completed), and if you have a good eye, you can make out very faint remnants. Very faint. But, obviously, that route has not been maintained for ages. As others have pointed out, going up is not too bad. Going down, you'd need great brakes. One last thing to keep in mind is that the last time I was in that area, I accessed the upper Kern basin via Ericsson pass (col) which is basically around the corner (SW) from Harrison. If anything, I'd rate Ericsson just a tad easier for the main climb, but that's balanced out by even more talus down low. Either way, I've enjoyed some monster alpenglow on Stanford camped in that enclosed basin below Harrison; it's a nifty area!
cg
User avatar
cgundersen
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 655
Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2006 1:07 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Harrison vs. Pants Pass

Postby Fishstick » Sat Mar 29, 2014 7:56 am

Thanks for all the helpful input. I'll Check out Ericsson. One other option I have been weighing is Little Joe's Pass above Lake Reflection. It looked like it might be a little gentler on the main climb if I were going solo, but it looked like a longer straight up ascent to the pass (in google earth 3d view), and the long straight potential for rock fall in a group made me nervous. Any experience with a group on Little Joe's?
User avatar
Fishstick
Topix Novice
 
Posts: 18
Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2012 8:35 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Harrison vs. Pants Pass

Postby themappist » Sat Mar 29, 2014 10:29 am

Since you are traveling N to S, I would not recommend Little Joes. I think it's a better S-N route coming from LSA. We did it as a pair, rock fall was manageable but we had to be careful and think about it. Easier to do while descending IMO. I have pictures of both options from my crossing last September. I would say Harrison if going South.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/55533504@ ... 319150705/
User avatar
themappist
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 49
Joined: Wed Apr 03, 2013 6:29 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Harrison vs. Pants Pass

Postby cgundersen » Sat Mar 29, 2014 11:43 am

Fishsticks/Themappist,
Those photos of Little Joe's sure look tougher than what I remember of either Harrison or Ericsson. I've never done Little Joe, and I'm not sure I would after seeing those shots. That said, if you (Fishsticks) are looking for other options for getting out of the Lake Reflection area and into the upper Kern, obviously, there are several other scenarios. Plenty of folks have in the past chimed in on the two "macho lady" passes (Millie's and Lucy's), and if you choose either one, you'll have stories to tell. I gave those girls a try once and that's all for me. However, I have done the N to S route past the base of Thunder Mt. (I think it goes by Thunder ridge, or Thunder col), and it's certainly better than Millie or Lucy. Lots of talus to reach the base of the climb, and it's pretty steep and unprotected over the last hundred feet, but all-in-all, not a bad plan B.
cg
User avatar
cgundersen
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 655
Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2006 1:07 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Harrison vs. Pants Pass

Postby Ska-T » Sat Mar 29, 2014 2:00 pm

What do you think of Thunder Pass going south to north? ¿No problema?

(Not to divert the thread because I plan on doing Harrison and Pants or Pyra-Queen this year.)
User avatar
Ska-T
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 187
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2007 8:59 pm
Location: Huntington Beach
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Harrison vs. Pants Pass

Postby cgundersen » Sat Mar 29, 2014 2:31 pm

Ska-T,
Yes, not to push this thread off course, but my preference is to be going up something that's a bit dicey. Just as Harrison has given folks a bit of a scare going down, I can imagine that Thunder Pass (yes, I checked the convention, and it's Thunder Pass) would be a bit more challenging S to N, versus N to S. My recollection is that it's the last ~100 ft to the ridge that is pretty darn steep and will require care. However, since we just went for the most direct route on our way up, it would not hurt to patrol around a bit to see if there are easier ways down.
cg
User avatar
cgundersen
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 655
Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2006 1:07 pm
Experience: N/A

Next

Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 11 guests