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Great Western Divide Loop Question

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Great Western Divide Loop Question

Postby EasternSierra » Sun Jun 08, 2014 5:59 pm

Thinking about doing a Great Western Divide loop in 2 weeks. Starting at Roads End and going up to Sphinx Lakes, over Sphinx Col, Cinder Col, South Guard Lake and then either going over Longley Pass and heading to Lake Reflection then to East Lake, Junction Meadow, and back to Roads End.

OR taking the long route and going over MacLeod Pass and then down towards Lake South America, JMT, Forester Pass, and then back to Roads end along Bubbs creek.

Has anyone been over either of these routes or these passes recently and know what the snow conditions are like this year. I know it was a pretty dry winter so I'm thinking they may not be too bad by June 22nd or so? Let me know if you've been out there already and have any insight. Thanks!
Last edited by EasternSierra on Tue Jun 10, 2014 8:57 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Re: Great Western Divide Loop Question

Postby maverick » Sun Jun 08, 2014 7:13 pm

There has not been any TR's of those crosscountry routes. Forester was reported
to have a lot of snow, but no reports from the East Lake corridor or Sphinx Lakes
route. Would guess that there is still quite a bit of snow at MacLeod area, and the
whole Longley to Sphinx Lakes route.
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Re: Great Western Divide Loop Question

Postby EasternSierra » Tue Jun 10, 2014 8:59 am

Has anyone at least crossed over Bubbs creek at Junction meadow on the way up to East Lake? Is the creek crossable this early in the season?
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Re: Great Western Divide Loop Question

Postby maverick » Tue Jun 10, 2014 10:10 am

It can be quite difficult to cross in early season, though this year who knows, there is
an easier crossing point down stream a couple of hundred yards if the usual crossing
point is to difficult, just take your time, and bail if it seems outside your comfort level.
Try crossing as early in the day as possible, when the water levels will be lower, instead
of mid-day when water levels will be higher and the current much stronger.
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Re: Great Western Divide Loop Question

Postby maverick » Tue Jun 10, 2014 3:37 pm

Found a recent TR to East Lake and Lake Reflection: http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin ... d_id=91537
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Re: Great Western Divide Loop Question

Postby EasternSierra » Thu Jun 12, 2014 11:51 am

Awesome. That's good to know that Bubbs Creek is crossable now. I am guessing that late May would be higher water then mid-to-late June. I'll check with the rangers before we attempt anything too.
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Great Western Divide Loop Question

Postby Bluewater » Thu Jun 12, 2014 1:15 pm

Thanks for starting this thread. I've also been watching for any current GWD tr's for updates and conditions. I'm leaving on July 18th for a similar route (Kaweah/Milestone/Thunder/Longely/Brewer/Sphinx) and would be interested in any info you have when you get back. Have fun!


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Re: Great Western Divide Loop Question

Postby alpinemike » Thu Jun 12, 2014 1:30 pm

I will be in all these areas the next 2 weeks and will be sure to post at least a conditions report. I will probably be the first party of the year in many of those spots.
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Re: Great Western Divide Loop Question

Postby Bluewater » Thu Jun 12, 2014 5:15 pm

Thanks AlpineMike!
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Re: Great Western Divide Loop Question

Postby Pato » Fri Jun 13, 2014 12:30 pm

I can't help with the conditions this year, but I did a similar loop last year. TR is here:
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=9837

Personally, I wouldn't recommend using MacLeod Pass - even though its rated as Class II we found it to be very slow, dangerous (rockfall), and just downright un-enjoyable. There is solid talus starting in Cunningham Creek at about 11,000'. If you end up going into the Kern drainage I would recommend using Longley and Thunder Pass (not Thunder Ridge) although it's a long day to go from Brewer to Casper Lake (Lake 10,880+) in one day. If you have time you may want to split it up into 2 days and use Longley, stop at Reflection and then ascend Milly's into the Kern the following day. Even though Milly's is Class III - it's very short and preferable to MacLeod IMO. All that being said, we really enjoyed the area...would definitely recommend staying at Big Brewer if you can.
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Re: Great Western Divide Loop Question

Postby EasternSierra » Fri Jun 13, 2014 12:51 pm

Thanks for the info. I had heard that MacLeod can be a little strenuous and loose so I'll keep that in mind. Another question: Do you guys bring ice-axes crampons this early in the season for these passes? I am asking because I remember July 4th 2010 where my wife and I went over New Army pass on our way up Langley when it was all snowed over with a cornice. We probably should have had crampons on. It was a little scary. RJ Secor's book says that Longley can have a cornice in early season but that you can avoid it on the north side by doing some class 3. Based on that, I'm wondering if MacLeod will be better if there's still a lot of snow.
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Re: Great Western Divide Loop Question

Postby EasternSierra » Fri Jun 13, 2014 1:30 pm

Pato wrote:I can't help with the conditions this year, but I did a similar loop last year. TR is here:
http://highsierratopix.com/community/vi ... f=1&t=9837

Personally, I wouldn't recommend using MacLeod Pass - even though its rated as Class II we found it to be very slow, dangerous (rockfall), and just downright un-enjoyable


Hey Pato, I am assuming that the pass that you are flipping the bird at in the picture in your trail report is MacLeod pass? Do you think it would be easier doing the pass in reverse? I have heard that the western side is worse than the eastern side. I'd rather go up the hard part than go down.

Also are you a duck? I'm a duck. Go ducks!
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