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Now route: The Southern Sierra High Route - A Guide

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Now route: The Southern Sierra High Route - A Guide

Postby adixon » Sat Apr 11, 2015 1:39 pm

Southern Sierra High Route - A Guide
http://www.adventurealan.com/SoSHR/
(a southern extension of the Sierra High Route to Mt. Whitney and beyond)
by Alan Dixon and Don Wilson

Route description, full mapset, and other materials freely available.

Image
First light approach to climb the Mountaineer’s Route on Mt Whitney. On this trip we summited with full packs. But rather than exiting at the traditional Whitney Portal we traversed the Whitney Crest and continued south to exit the high peaks near the shoulder of Mt. Langley 14,026' (4,275 m), the southernmost 14er in the Sierras.

Overview of the SoSHR, Southern Sierra High Route

“It’s always confused us that the Sierra High Route neglects the highest and grandest section of the High Sierra, including Mt. Whitney the highest peak in the lower 48 and the traditional finishing point of the JMT.”

When climber Steve Roper conceived of the Sierra High Route (SHR) almost 40 years ago, it was a visionary concept—encouraging backpackers (not just hardcore climbers) to get off of crowded trails and follow higher and cleaner lines in the Sierras. With a goal of “loosely following the John Muir Trail (JMT) but frequently going off trail, higher and closer to the Sierra Crest when reasonably possible.” It challenged backcountry travelers with class 2 and 3 passes, and difficult navigation over tough terrain—but with high rewards of beauty and solitude for doing so. We are both native Californians, and cut our backcountry teeth on the SHR and routes like it. The SHR has likewise transformed many trail-plodders into high country mountaineers. We are all indebted to Steve Roper and the many backpackers and mountaineers before and after him that contributed to the SHR.

But the southern terminus of Roper’s SHR is well north of most of the highest and finest crest of the Southern Sierras and Mt. Whitney. This year we decided to see if we could put a line together that extended the SHR to the south, traversing near the crest to Mount Whitney and beyond. A good look at the maps revealed a beautiful line that weaves across the Sierra crest numerous times, maintaining the spirit of the SHR, and offers hiking as good or better than any portion of the SHR. Our Southern Sierra High Route (SoSHR) extends south from Upper Basin, where the SHR turns west and goes toward lower terrain. It traverses the highest part of the range, mixing travel on the JMT with many miles of superb off trail hiking.

The SoSHR is a route in keeping with the spirit of the original SHR, and a route we believe would be close to John Muir’s heart. It starts high in the Palisades, the most rugged sub-range in the Sierra, and offers a summit of Mt Sill 14,154' (4,314 m). According to R.J. Secor in his must-have book The High Sierra, “Mount Sill has the best summit view of any peak in the Sierra.” The route also includes an ascent of the Mountaineer’s Route up Mt. Whitney 14,505' (4,421 m) and a traverse across its summit, before continuing on to exit the high peaks near the shoulder of Mt. Langley 14,026' (4,275 m), the southernmost 14er in the Sierras.

Compared to the the JMT from LeConte Canyon to Whitney Portal, the SoSHR is much higher, crossing the Sierra crest 7 times versus the JMT’s single crossing of the divide near Mt. Whitney. In addition, the SoSHR is more remote, with significant travel off trail, and travel on lesser used unmaintained and decommissioned trails. The landscape is more spectacular, the hiking is more challenging, and the solitude intensifies your experience.

BASIC STATS: SoSHR vs. JMT from LeConte Canyon to Whitney Portal
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SoSHR Stats
From LeConte Canyon to the southern terminus, the SoSHR stays closer to the crest and significantly higher than the JMT. The SoSHR can be done as an elegant route in its own right—about 100 miles of hiking from end to end. Or it can be appended to the SHR to create a route paralleling the best of the Sierra - a spectacular ~270 mile route stretching from Twin Lakes in the north to Cottonwood Lakes in the south.

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Don explores the shoreline of beautiful Golden Bear Lake. The lake lies at 11,171 feet in pristine Center Basin, on the way to Junction Pass. Lots of solitude here as it is on a portion of the old JMT that has been “decommissioned” for years.
Last edited by adixon on Sat Apr 11, 2015 3:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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adixon
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Re: Now route: The Southern Sierra High Route - A Guide

Postby adixon » Sat Apr 11, 2015 1:41 pm

Post Author comment:
Apologies in advance but I am going into the backcountry for a month, and will have very intermittent connectivity when I briefly come out a few times. I will try to respond to comments as best I can. All the best, -alan
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Re: Now route: The Southern Sierra High Route - A Guide

Postby maverick » Tue Apr 28, 2015 5:31 pm

Great job in putting this guide together and sharing it with us Alan. Pictures are great, and the description of
the route is done in great detail on the link you provided.
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: Now route: The Southern Sierra High Route - A Guide

Postby dougieb » Tue Apr 28, 2015 6:04 pm

I remember finding your website a few months back and when I found this, I stayed up late to read through it! Looks like an awesome trip. Thanks for taking the time to put it all together in such a beautiful way.
Doug
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