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Kings Canyon High Basin Route

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Re: Kings Canyon High Basin Route

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Apr 13, 2015 5:17 pm

You picked some very low snow years to test out your route. I am just wondering how it will go in a year like 2011? If you have not already done this, it would be informative to do the route again in a high-snow year (plus it gives you a good excuse to spend more time in the Sierra \:D/ ). Might be night and day! Although I am a climate change "believer" I am not sure high snow years are totally a thing of the past. I am not intending to be hyper-critical, but any route that a guidebook author "owns" probably needs to be experienced multiple times. Nothing like first-hand experience under multiple conditions.

I have written a guide for off-trail routes in the Wind Rivers and after trekking around there for over 45 years, I am amazed at how things have changed over time and under different conditions. Often I go back to an area I previously thought was "great" only to find it "so-so" or previously "easy" and next time under different conditions, almost impossible. Cannot say that I have done every one of my routes multiple times, but I do go back for at least a month every other year to do more "research" - at least that is what I tell my family to justify all my time in the mountains. ;) I also am sympathetic to the concept that some busy people may prefer to have a well vetted route from a guidebook vs doing all their own research and perfectly willing to pay for it. As for all of us who put out information in this forum, we do it free, knowing that anyone can use it. A good guidebook will reference the sources of their information and give you credit where credit is due.

Rogue, were you out in 2011? I recall in one year you had some tense moments on the snow on the pass from Amphitheater Lake to Dumbbell Lakes. Honestly, I keep waiting for you to write a guidebook! I would buy it.



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Re: Kings Canyon High Basin Route

Postby jenreyn » Mon Apr 13, 2015 6:12 pm

I also second the concern of telling people to go down the Enchanted Gorge. As a highly experienced backcountry off trail hiker, having lived here almost my entire life, I don't feel that the Enchanted Gorge is any place for someone who isn't highly experienced with tough terrain. Yes, there are "game trails" and such. Along with brambles, stinging nettle and white thorn further down etc....However, Wandering Daisy has a good point. I went down it in a high snow year and it was one of the most wild and committing experiences hiking I have ever had in the Sierra. Late August was troublesome as the creek was still unsurpassable making one commit to one side. This brought on issues of circumnavigating obstacles(cliffs) and having to climb 4/5th class. And there were snow bridges and walls over 30 ft tall which exhibited blue ice in places that had to be navigated. The likely hood of someone injuring themselves in the gorge or further down in the lower canyon before exiting to Simpson Meadow poses a serious problem getting them out. Its in probably one of the most isolated parts of the Sierra, as it was the last mapped area in the range. I think the least that could be expressed to the buyer, is that this section has a level of risk being in the gorge and some understanding that the buyer be ready for some serious bushwhacking, especially down before Simpson Meadow.I further feel that posting this guide over on the John Muir Group on Facebook may not be entirely appropriate as most of the folks over there are not seasoned off trail hikers. I am only stating this as a true concern for others. I understand that people can do what they want and some people want an adventure. However, I feel that this section is not entirely safe for unexperienced off trail hikers. It is in my opinion that its a big step up from anything on the High Sierra Route.
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Re: Kings Canyon High Basin Route

Postby maverick » Mon Apr 13, 2015 6:36 pm

Jenreyn wrote:

I think the least that could be expressed to the buyer, is that this section has a level of risk being in the gorge
and some understanding that the buyer be ready for some serious bushwhacking, especially down before
Simpson Meadow.I further feel that posting this guide over on the John Muir Group on Facebook may not be
entirely appropriate as most of the folks over there are not seasoned off trail hikers. I am only stating this
as a true concern for others. I understand that people can do what they want and some people want an
adventure. However, I feel that this section is not entirely safe for unexperienced off trail hikers. It is in
my opinion that its a big step up from anything on the High Sierra Route.


Totally agree.

People have no understand of the difficulties this and other sections of the Sierra may pose, they may only
see the lure of a well written write-up, and the chance to explore a wild/remote part of the range.

Several years ago Backpacker Magazine had a write-up on a section that included 3 crosscountry passes
in a day, with no explanation of the difficulties involved with it being a crosscountry pass and route finding
experience needed, and then at the end of the piece the person recommending the trip said he never did
the hike himself.

Their has to be some level of moral accountability when you recommend sections that are way above
the average or even moderate backpackers skill levels, the minimum of a warning of the difficulties and
skills required to complete it should be included.
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: Kings Canyon High Basin Route

Postby andrewskurka » Mon Apr 13, 2015 6:47 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:I am not sure high snow years are totally a thing of the past. I am not intending to be hyper-critical, but any route that a guidebook author "owns" probably needs to be experienced multiple times. Nothing like first-hand experience under multiple conditions.


I don't think big snow is gone either. After 4 years of drought I'm sure it might seem that way, but even in a climate weirding world, things will revert to something close to their historical average.

It's been pretty difficult the last few years (when I have done the bulk of my off-trail exploring in the High Sierra) to understand how these sections are different with normal snow. I can make some assumptions based on topography, soil, and what I have seen in wetter years (for example, I'd assume there is a big, long-lingering snowfield on the east side of Longley) but there's no replacement for personal experience.

Wandering Daisy wrote:I also am sympathetic to the concept that some busy people may prefer to have a well vetted route from a guidebook vs doing all their own research and perfectly willing to pay for it. As for all of us who put out information in this forum, we do it free, knowing that anyone can use it. A good guidebook will reference the sources of their information and give you credit where credit is due.


Totally agree here. If you get over to the route minisite, you'll see that I gave a bit shout out to Roper, and smaller ones to Secor and HST.
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Re: Kings Canyon High Basin Route

Postby RoguePhotonic » Mon Apr 13, 2015 7:10 pm

Rogue, were you out in 2011? I recall in one year you had some tense moments on the snow on the pass from Amphitheater Lake to Dumbbell Lakes. Honestly, I keep waiting for you to write a guidebook! I would buy it.


Yes that was the year I did 95 days out. I carried my ice axe for more than 80 days and still made use of it! Plenty of tense snow moments that year but yes Cataract Creek Pass was one of them.

Iceberg Lake on August 26th 2011:

Image

My thoughts on the Enchanted Gorge having done it last year is not to recommend it to anyone. It's one of those routes that what you get for how much you work is just not worth it. So many sections have you climbing on very steep extraordinarily loose rock, horrible stinging nettles that are face high, technical sections that a person can get in trouble fast on and over all just misery all the way down. This of course is before you reach Goddard Creek.

Now when it comes to recommending someone take Goddard Creek all the way down and out I still will do so. That route offers plenty of beautiful places and cool things to see before you have the misery of making it out to Simpson Meadow.

Having been in that lower section of Goddard Creek twice now I very likely will never be there again unless I go crazy and drop down Tunemah Pass.

In regards to using info I don't write reports and take photos to make money. I have had offers to pay me more than once for usage of my photos on FlickR and each time I tell those people to just use them.
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Re: Kings Canyon High Basin Route

Postby andrewskurka » Mon Apr 13, 2015 7:26 pm

jenreyn wrote:I think the least that could be expressed to the buyer, is that this section has a level of risk being in the gorge and some understanding that the buyer be ready for some serious bushwhacking, especially down before Simpson Meadow.I further feel that posting this guide over on the John Muir Group on Facebook may not be entirely appropriate as most of the folks over there are not seasoned off trail hikers.


Yes, there will be a big qualifier on the Guide and especially on the section through Enchanted Gorge. It would be very irresponsible not to have one, and that's not my MO. (I've guided 50+ trips and have had 400+ clients run through my program, and I've had to learn how to set clear expectations as part of that.)

Re the John Muir Group post, I'm going to disagree with you on this one. There are many sections of the KCHBR that are appropriate for fit and experienced backpackers who have some off-trail experience and want more. Tablelands and the Sphinx Creek/East Fork linkup are two good examples. I would also point to Gardiner and Arrow Basins, since they are surrounded by trails.

The line between a responsible guidebook author and personal responsibility is not lost on me. It's my intention to do a good job in this area.
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Re: Kings Canyon High Basin Route

Postby andrewskurka » Mon Apr 13, 2015 7:30 pm

RoguePhotonic wrote:My thoughts on the Enchanted Gorge having done it last year is not to recommend it to anyone. It's one of those routes that what you get for how much you work is just not worth it. ...
Now when it comes to recommending someone take Goddard Creek all the way down and out I still will do so. That route offers plenty of beautiful places and cool things to see before you have the misery of making it out to Simpson Meadow.


I've heard that about Goddard, but without having done it myself I feel that it'd be irresponsible to have that be the route. I will definitely mention what I have read about Goddard, with credit due to the sources, and I plan to do it in July to check it out myself. If what I've heard is true, a change is entirely possible. A longer time in Ionian Basin is another perk of this route, rather than jumping over Black Giant Pass and then quickly dropping into the Gorge.
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Re: Kings Canyon High Basin Route

Postby RoguePhotonic » Mon Apr 13, 2015 7:35 pm

This set has plenty of shots all the way down Goddard Creek. Something I wasn't able to do in the Enchanted Gorge since it rained on me for like 5 hours.
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Re: Kings Canyon High Basin Route

Postby jenreyn » Mon Apr 13, 2015 7:38 pm

Andrew,

I agree with you that there are sections that are reasonable for fit folks wanting to test the waters off trail.....just not the Enchanted Gorge to Simpson Meadow. I am also a guide part time, here in the Eastern Sierra, who enjoys leading trips that are off trail and creating new loops, etc. If I was to be offered to lead a trip down the Gorge it would require a serious inquiry into their experience as well as fitness, etc to see if they were capable. Ionian Basin is amazing, and I do appreciate the remote sense you get being within the confines of the Black Divide. I just wonder if there could be an alternative more the more faint of heart to get to Simpson Meadow.....Ionian, to Lake 10232, to Finger Col, to Blue Canyon, to Tehipite Valley and up to Simpson.....which by the way is like hiking off trail since the trail barely exists and its wild there.....or possibly connecting into the "Tunemah Trail " down into Simpson if the route was clear, as this could put the unsuspecting into bad terrain as well.

Jen
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Re: Kings Canyon High Basin Route

Postby jenreyn » Mon Apr 13, 2015 7:41 pm

Or bypass Ionian to Davis Lake, to Martha Lake, Lake 10232, and so on....
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Re: Kings Canyon High Basin Route

Postby RoguePhotonic » Mon Apr 13, 2015 7:49 pm

It's a bit of an extreme idea for most people but I like the idea of dropping down to Lake 10,232 then up to Finger Col. Traverse over to Tunemah Lake and then Tunemah pass down to Simpson. I'd do it like I did in 2013 only in reverse by traversing to the summit of Blue Canyon Peak then South to Peak 11,920 then follow the ridge to the summit of Tunemah Peak and down to the pass. It's a bit tedious on the West ridge of Blue Canyon Peak and fairly tedious approaching class 3 scrambling on the North ridge of peak 11,920 but the rest is quite easy.
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Re: Kings Canyon High Basin Route

Postby jenreyn » Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:01 pm

Exactly Rogue......I was up there this past summer and the traverse was a bit interesting but negotiable. The rest of the terrain seems fine. I just haven't been over Tunemah pass so I can't speak from experience. The route takes you into the furthest point from any road in the Sierra and it stays with the High Basin theme(Tunemah Lake Basin) etc. Andrew, you should check it out either way.
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