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TR - Taboose Pass & Striped Mountain, 17-18 May 2014

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TR - Taboose Pass & Striped Mountain, 17-18 May 2014

Postby orbitor » Mon May 19, 2014 2:27 pm

Wanted to get this report out in case people are thinking of heading up to Taboose Pass. Photos at the end.

The goal of the trip was to get some altitude exposure with lots of gain, camping for 1 night in the backcountry. For peakbagging purposes, Striped Mountain and Goodale Mountain were both in the cross-hairs. The drive to the Taboose Creek TH was much easier than I remembered it from 2 years ago - the road is in good condition and any passenger car can make it provided they are careful. No washouts or anything as gnarly as reports from September made it sound. It still takes about half an hour to drive there from the campground, but no complaints.

We got going around 7:30 am. It was already warm at the time, making the first couple of miles a miserable slog. Starting with no warmup pedal to the metal as we usually do, the heavy pack, heat and sand were a total shock and I fell back. Luckily a thin cloud moved in front of the sun to provide some relief and with enough persistence I got above 6000 ft and into the canyon, where a cool breeze was flowing from the west. The higher we climbed the better I started feeling, and soon enough we were at the first stream crossing. The creek is flowing well, though not anything near where it should be at this time of the year. No snow on the trail except some isolated patches until the top of the switchbacks above the second stream crossing, then coverage was more extended and deeper. We crossed the snow without major postholing. We reached the tarn where an unnamed creek from the SW meets Taboose and decided to set camp here. Elevation was around 10,300 ft and north-facing slopes had big snowfields.

Due to scheduling considerations, the decision was made to go for the summits the same day. Based on previous failed attempts, I knew this was a bad idea, but I wasn't the main organizer so I went along with it. After setting up the tents in a really cramped space, we continued up the trail to the pass. The trail was mostly clear, whatever snow we encountered we bypassed by boulder-hopping around or taking the snow straight up. The pass had pretty much continuous coverage and the winds were howling. We angled south without reaching the sign and alternated snow with boulder-fields up the drainage between Striped and Goodale. The snow was very soft despite the altitude, leading to repeated postholing. We skirted Point 3933 on the east and got within sight of Striped's true summit. However, it was getting late and becoming quite clear we were not going to make it. Sometime around 4 pm one person called it a day. The rest of us continued up the shoulder a ways before getting driven back by the screaming winds and the deep snow on the summit ridge, where an exposed traverse also gave pause to those without crampons. I turned back around 11,800 ft; others got up to 12,200 ft before finally calling it. Of course, there is always one who will not give up. Look for eric1234's report on making it, and adding Goodale Mountain for good measure!

The return to the pass was marked by more postholing, then an exhausted drop back down to camp. No break from the wind even below the pass, and temps plummeting along with fading daylight. We prepared dinner outside, around a corner slightly abating the wind, and some had already hopped into their sleeping bags when our last outstanding member appeared. He explained he followed the same track back after Goodale, but instead of going to the pass, he dropped down a chute that opens in the drainage of the unnamed tributary stream, and from there plunge-stepped his way to camp. We'd have marveled some more at this incredible feat if we weren't freezing outside, so unceremoniously we retreated to the tents to pass a night to the sound of constant flapping and howling.

In the morning it didn't sound like the wind was ready to give any pause. We packed up, then some of us roped up and proceeded to work on maneuvering as a team on the slopes above camp (we had also brought climbing equipment to practice). Finally having had enough of the wind, we grabbed our packs and headed down, meeting up with the rest of our companions a few hundred feet below. The descent was not noteworthy. Temps increased as we dropped elevation, though the wind kept at it until at least the first crossing. I took advantage of every water event to cool off and drink that cold soothing liquid. It felt heavenly. Not far below where the trail meets the stream, I came a across a rattler that looked like it had been bitten in two. We joked about eric1234 imposing his will on it. The sandy slog at the end was an annoyance that had to be dealt with.

Definitely another learning experience on this one. We had a super strong group, yet the Sierra easily defeated us, except for one. It was definitely good to push the boundaries even though we didn't make the summit. And, given the dearth of snow this spring, that roped practice was a much needed opportunity to keep improving the skills.

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Entering the canyon of Taboose Creek

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The east side of Orange Ogre (first time I heard of this peak) from between the first and second stream crossings

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Tarn at the confluence of Taboose Creek and the unnamed stream coming down from the SW. Our camp was in the trees on the right edge.

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Looking up the remainder of the way to Taboose Pass

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Looking south from above Taboose Pass. The peak in the center is not Striped, but Point 3933.

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Cardinal Mountain from the shoulder of Striped. This was taken from where I turned around.

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Goodale Mountain from the shoulder of Striped.

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Taken on the descent. The true summit of Striped is the farthest bump in the background.

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Enjoying a short break on the bank of Taboose Creek on the hike out.

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Rattler ripped in two, in the middle of the trail
Last edited by orbitor on Thu May 22, 2014 11:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: TR - Taboose Pass & Striped Mountain, 17-18 May 2014

Postby maverick » Mon May 19, 2014 2:54 pm

Thanks for the TR Orbitor, soft snow and heavy winds are a nasty combo. Looking
forward to seeing your shots of Striped Mtn Basin and any towards the Arrow Pk/Bench
Lake area if you have any.
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Re: TR - Taboose Pass & Striped Mountain, 17-18 May 2014

Postby cgundersen » Mon May 19, 2014 4:03 pm

Hi orbitor,
In spite of your comments, I'm still convinced that the Taboose approach road is one of the lousier options on the East side. Unless those narrow furrows have worn down, that road is enough to rattle teeth, let alone dentures. Plus, once you get going and leave the sand, most of the trail is covered with wobbly rock, but at least it does not waste time getting you up high. And it sounds like you guys did great in spite of the conditions. Once someone tells me that a grader has visited the Taboose road, I might be more inclined to return. Otherwise, I'll live with the memories from 2 years back. And, vicariously via the photos you and other brave souls post.....
cg
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Re: TR - Taboose Pass & Striped Mountain, 17-18 May 2014

Postby Vaca Russ » Tue May 20, 2014 9:00 pm

maverick wrote:Looking
forward to seeing your shots of Striped Mtn Basin and any towards the Arrow Pk/Bench
Lake area if you have any.


Yes, orbitor. Please post some pictures. We plan on heading up that trail in July.

Thanks,

-Russ
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Re: TR - Taboose Pass & Striped Mountain, 17-18 May 2014

Postby orbitor » Thu May 22, 2014 11:34 am

Added my photos. Will link to some of eric1234's shortly.

cgundersen,
While admittedly I haven't been on most of the east side approaches, Taboose never struck me as one of the worst. I thought the road was actually in better shape than 2 years ago. The fact that there no big boulders or holes to have to deal with is evidence that someone did some maintenance. There are still a few tricky spots, some ruts and yes quite a bit of rattling remains, but overall I think the rating of the road should be upgraded from 3 to 2 (see discussion on ratings of worst roads).
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Re: TR - Taboose Pass & Striped Mountain, 17-18 May 2014

Postby orbitor » Thu May 22, 2014 11:55 am

All photos following by eric1234.

Image
Orange Ogre from below Taboose Pass

Image
The basin between Striped and Goodale (rising on the left)

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Tarn with Point 3933 in the background

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Not sure, I think this is the unnamed peak south of Striped and referred to Striped South. It's one of the entries in this year's Sierra Challenge.

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Looking southwest from summit of Striped

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Looking west from summit of Striped

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Goodale to the east

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Split and Cardinal to the north, Palisades beyond

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The winds whipped the clouds into some fantastic Sierra Waves

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View south from summit of Goodale

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Striped from Goodale

Image
Flowers on the descent on Sunday
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Re: TR - Taboose Pass & Striped Mountain, 17-18 May 2014

Postby maverick » Thu May 22, 2014 12:37 pm

Thank you Orbitor for the additional photo's. The shot from the summit of Striped
looking west still shows a significant amount of snow over towards Ruskin,
Vennacher, and into Upper Basin. Love the Sierra waves shot and tarn shots. :thumbsup:
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Re: TR - Taboose Pass & Striped Mountain, 17-18 May 2014

Postby Snow Nymph » Thu May 22, 2014 1:53 pm

After my first time up Taboose I said I'd never do it again. I still went back twice. Nice sierra wave pic!
:)
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free . . . . Jim Morrison


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