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Cross Country pants pass or Queen Col??

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Re: Cross Country pants pass or Queen Col??

Postby oleander » Fri Feb 20, 2015 9:28 pm

North Glacier is possibly the "least-bad" of the 4 passes you mention. But it still has a short Class 3 section; and I have run across people who found it navigationally difficult.

Most every year, I bring somebody out who wants to cut their teeth on some x-country. I wouldn't dream of taking them over any of these 4 passes. Without knowing your reaction to this kind of terrain (MENTAL as well as physical), it's hard to say if you will breeze over it or if you will COMPLETELY freak out.

Most of the people I've taken out have completely freaked out on far easier terrain that that, and that was never on their first big trip/year out.

After hearing about Ritter Pass last year (scary looseness), I have no intention of ever touching it.

- Elizabeth



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Re: Cross Country pants pass or Queen Col??

Postby RoguePhotonic » Sat Feb 21, 2015 5:54 am

I never found anything difficult about North Glacier Pass. Just up and over. The only problem is a short large boulder field on top. I'd be more worried about where your going from here. If your on the Sierra High Route it's allot of micro managing to get through that section.
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Re: Cross Country pants pass or Queen Col??

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Feb 21, 2015 5:41 pm

I took someone who is new to off-trail over North Glacier Pass this fall and she did fine. We did however day-hike it instead of hauling packs up the pass. There is an off-and-on use-trail that I manage to miss even though I know it is there! I never have found any class 3 on the pass. There are lots of boulders to hop. Slow going for those not practiced on rocks.

Once you go over the pass, then where? Getting around on the west side of the Minarets is quite tricky. Lots of cliffs. The pass is only the start of your problems.
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Re: Cross Country pants pass or Queen Col??

Postby oleander » Sat Feb 21, 2015 10:45 pm

About North Glacier Pass: I should have been more clear. That pass itself is easy, navigationally and physically, from Thousand Island Lake to Catherine Lake.

What is trickier is the descent from Catherine Lake down to Twin Island Lakes. There is a short Class 3 section. The bigger issue is that I've talked to more than one person who found the navigation difficult in that area. One woman I spoke to considered it the most difficult navigation of the entire Sierra High Route - which she has completed twice from start to finish.

I didn't find the navigation too terrible. But you have to admit, the landscape back there is really convoluted. It is not a common Sierras kind of landscape. It's really different. The friend I was with through there, who has done a lot of Sierras x-country, was totally turned around, and a bit intimidated, all the way from Blue Lakes to Catherine Lake.

I just would never recommend it (the section between Catherine Lake and Blue Lakes) for someone new to cross-country.

What about going over Silver Pass x-country? That is a gentle, gorgeous landscape! I can never get enough of it. Assuming you're going southbound: Start at Tully Lake; go over Shout of Relief Pass to Laurel Lake; do a side trip to Grinnell Lake. That is a section most people could handle. Another nearby section most people could handle is the traverse of Mammoth Ridge over to Duck Lake - as a spectacular alternative to the dry dusty PCT route that parallels the ridge.

- Elizabeth
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Re: Cross Country pants pass or Queen Col??

Postby wannabeamountaineer » Sun Feb 22, 2015 11:40 am

Thanks Daisy-to your question "then where?" --I was just planning on approximately following the drainage down to 1000 Island Lake to trail. Judging from the replies of several others, my main concern is the terrain on the ascent from Twin Island Lakes up to Catherine. If any particular difficulty comes to mind concerning the descent to 1000 Island, I'd appreciate your input. Mike.
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Re: Cross Country pants pass or Queen Col??

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Feb 22, 2015 5:19 pm

I have now done the section from Blue Lakes to Catharine Lake four times! The first time I found the route finding tricky. By now I have it figured out, with no 3rd class at all. The first time it took me 8 hours to get from Blue Lakes to Twin Island Lake. By the 4th time I could do it in 3.5 hours. I totally ignored Roper's description and found my own route. In fact I found an old trail for part of the section from Twin Island Lakes to Ritter Lakes. The old trail drops to the upper San Joaquin. There are old cables and mining equipment along the way so I think the old trail was once a mule path for miners. So, I think if you are willing to take enough time, you could do it. You can see where you want to go nearly all the time so just pay attention to the lay of the land and be willing to backtrack if you cliff out. Also be willing to drop some elevation if needed. I have a map and some information somewhere on my route. It will take some time to dig it up. It has been a while and I cannot remember all the details of the top of my head.
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Re: Cross Country pants pass or Queen Col??

Postby wannabeamountaineer » Wed Feb 25, 2015 6:11 pm

Daisy, thanks for the insight and for your time. I'm pretty sure I've decided on Blue Lake Pass to North Glacier Pass to 1000 Island Lake. I think the North Fork SJ looks interesting and beautiful to explore. I don't care how long it takes to route-find, I'll never go up(or down) any terrain that I'm not 110% certain I can backtrack over if necessary. Any experience you're happy to share from this area is greatly appreciated. Thanks, Mike.
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Re: Cross Country pants pass or Queen Col??

Postby maverick » Wed Feb 25, 2015 7:10 pm

WD wrote:
I have a map and some information somewhere on my route. It will take some time to dig it up.


Here it is: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=9746&hilit=twin+island+to+ritter+lakes#p73141
I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

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: Cross Country pants pass or Queen Col??

Postby thegib » Mon Mar 02, 2015 1:26 pm

To the original question; Pants pass and Pyra-Queen are definitely nasty class 2 passes. Long and loose. But there are other ways. Go north from 9 lakes basin over Lion Rock pass to Lion lake, North over Lion Lake pass to the head of Cloud Canyon, east past Glacier lake, skert Triple Divide Pk and head south down to Kern-Kaweah River. Then it's easy to head south to Pickett Ck and then to Kaweah basin. It's all in Secor's book. Or you go down the Big Arroyo and cross Chagoopa plateau and go over Kaweah pass. It's not quite as bad as Pants or Queen.
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Re: Cross Country pants pass or Queen Col??

Postby maverick » Mon Mar 02, 2015 2:52 pm

Thegib wrote:
Or you go down the Big Arroyo and cross Chagoopa plateau and go over Kaweah pass. It's not quite
as bad as Pants or Queen.


I respectfully disagree with this above statement, Kaweah Pass is by far the most dangerous of the
3 passes with dangerously loose rock, Pants is probably the second because of the steep angle at
the top of the pass, though if heading east once one gets out of the steep bare section and out onto
the scree it is a fun and quick slalom down to the bottom.
PQC has some loose scree in chute leading to the top of the pass on the western side but still the
easiest of the three.
I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

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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