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Granite Bear and White Bear Passes; Pretty Pass

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Granite Bear and White Bear Passes; Pretty Pass

Postby ExploreABitMore » Sun May 10, 2015 8:11 am

Hello,

I was planning a couple loops this summer that involve some passes I haven't been over and am mostly, if not completely, unfamiliar with. With the wealth of back country experience on this forum, I figured it would be a great place to ask about these passes.

I'm Level 4, comfortable with Class 3+. However, I am highly preferring to do these loops when most of the snow is melted out, so I will likely be hitting these passes after most of the snow is melted. Also, I'm not crazy about river crossings, so prefer minor to none. I don't think I have to worry about crossings on these loops, but please let me know if I'm overlooking one I'm not aware of.

(1) The first trip I am thinking about is a loop that will go through the Bear Lakes basin. Looking at the topo and thinking about areas I would like to see, I would like to go into the Bear Lakes area via Granite Bear Pass and exit via White Bear Pass, as long as they are reasonable passes. If they're real nasty, I would love to hear suggestions for alternate passes. I want to end up at Lake Italy when I exit, but I could come in from other places than Granite Park.

(2) I want to visit the Fish Creek drainage with the other loop I was thinking about. I also haven't been to Lake Dorothy yet and I have seen some pics of Ram Lakes that look beautiful, which all seems to put me going over Pretty Pass. Again, just curious if it is a fairly reasonable pass. If not, maybe I will switch up the loop a bit. I plan to come out McGee Creek by going up and over Red and White Mountain from Red and White Lake on the last day when my pack is light. I'm expecting a horrifically loose mess there, but if anybody has first hand experience there, that would be helpful to here about too.

Also, my main interests with these loops is (1) Lakes, (2), Big Mountain Scenery, (3) Photography. If there are alternatives that would increase my "bang for the buck" in these areas, I would love to hear about them.

Thanks for any info you guys can provide!
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Re: Granite Bear and White Bear Passes; Pretty Pass

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun May 10, 2015 9:02 am

I am away from home without my maps, so am not sure I have these pass names correct. I have used Dancing Bear Pass/Italy Pass to get from Granite Park to White Bear Lake. Once here it is easy to get down to all the other lakes in Bear Basin. There are infrequent cairns that mark the route from Italy Pass. The trail is fairly easy to follow up to Italy Pass. Dancing Bear is mainly talus - not hard - pretty easy if you find the cairns, just a bit harder if you get off-route. Dancing Bear Pass is my preferred route.

Two other routes go from the lower part of Granite Park to Royce Lakes. The pass to the east is easier - low angle slabs. It comes out in a notch to the upper end of the second higher Royce Lake. The pass to the west is also slabs (steeper) on the north side, Getting around the upper Royce Lake is more difficult. Although I have not done the more difficult passes from Granite Park to Black Bear Lake, they looked pretty bad from the Granite Park side.

I am not sure if the pass from White Bear Pass to Italy Lake (NOT the route down to Jumble Lake) is named but it is part of the HSR. I thought this was a bit difficult. We may have missed the best route. Parts were VERY steep. It is not technical, just not something you would want to fall on.
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Re: Granite Bear and White Bear Passes; Pretty Pass

Postby ExploreABitMore » Sun May 10, 2015 9:36 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:I am away from home without my maps, so am not sure I have these pass names correct. I have used Dancing Bear Pass/Italy Pass to get from Granite Park to White Bear Lake. Once here it is easy to get down to all the other lakes in Bear Basin. There are infrequent cairns that mark the route from Italy Pass. The trail is fairly easy to follow up to Italy Pass. Dancing Bear is mainly talus - not hard - pretty easy if you find the cairns, just a bit harder if you get off-route. Dancing Bear Pass is my preferred route.

Two other routes go from the lower part of Granite Park to Royce Lakes. The pass to the east is easier - low angle slabs. It comes out in a notch to the upper end of the second higher Royce Lake. The pass to the west is also slabs (steeper) on the north side, Getting around the upper Royce Lake is more difficult. Although I have not done the more difficult passes from Granite Park to Black Bear Lake, they looked pretty bad from the Granite Park side.

I am not sure if the pass from White Bear Pass to Italy Lake (NOT the route down to Jumble Lake) is named but it is part of the HSR. I thought this was a bit difficult. We may have missed the best route. Parts were VERY steep. It is not technical, just not something you would want to fall on.


Thanks Wandering Daisy! I was also definitely considering Dancing Bear Pass, but I have been in the general vicinity of Italy Pass and Jumble Lake, so it sounded fun to see another area of Granite Park and try a different pass altogether towards Bear Lakes Basin. However, based on your one comment it sounds like Granite Bear Pass might be one of the more difficult passes that looked pretty bad, so maybe I will start reconsidering Dancing Bear Pass. Since I plan to camp in Granite Park for night one, I guess I can take a look and decide last minute too.

One other question for you guys. High priority on this trip is photographs of Seven Gables. I had just assumed Vee Lakes would be the best lake to get a photo of Seven Gables from. But, now I've seen some other rather spectacular photos from as far back as Black Bear Lake. Keeping in mind I will have a wide angle zoom (17-40mm), which lake would be the best to camp at and hope to grab some sunrise/sunset photos of Seven Gables over a lake?

Thanks!
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Re: Granite Bear and White Bear Passes; Pretty Pass

Postby RoguePhotonic » Sun May 10, 2015 10:37 am

I thought I had written up white bear but I guess I will put it on my list. I have 20 passes to add to the cross country section. Wonder how many more I missed?

Anyway White Bear is fairly easy. From Black Bear Lake it's a short hike to the top. Depending on which way you go you might be on some small micro cliffs. Thinking back I think it's best to stay as far to the East side of the pass as possible. The NW side is the steeper longer side. Yet again stay further to the East side of it. I went a bit too far to the left and ended up in a mess of class 3 shelves but further right is much easier. Nothing about it is very difficult or even slow. I am not the fastest hiker and I left Black Bear Lake with the intention of camping at Toe Lake. Since I got there at noon I pushed on over Gabbot and down to Lower Mills Creek Lake in a day no problem.
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Re: Granite Bear and White Bear Passes; Pretty Pass

Postby ExploreABitMore » Sun May 10, 2015 10:50 am

RoguePhotonic wrote:I thought I had written up white bear but I guess I will put it on my list. I have 20 passes to add to the cross country section. Wonder how many more I missed?

Anyway White Bear is fairly easy. From Black Bear Lake it's a short hike to the top. Depending on which way you go you might be on some small micro cliffs. Thinking back I think it's best to stay as far to the East side of the pass as possible. The NW side is the steeper longer side. Yet again stay further to the East side of it. I went a bit too far to the left and ended up in a mess of class 3 shelves but further right is much easier. Nothing about it is very difficult or even slow. I am not the fastest hiker and I left Black Bear Lake with the intention of camping at Toe Lake. Since I got there at noon I pushed on over Gabbot and down to Lower Mills Creek Lake in a day no problem.


Thanks Rogue, that sounds very encouraging for White Bear Pass!
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Re: Granite Bear and White Bear Passes; Pretty Pass

Postby sekihiker » Sun May 10, 2015 5:29 pm

I left the Bear Lakes via Dancing Bear Pass which drops down to Jumble Lake then Lake Italy. Upon rereading my report, I didn't even mention the pass. From what I can remember, it was trivial. For a report of my trip, see: http://sierrahiker.home.comcast.net/~si ... index.html
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Re: Granite Bear and White Bear Passes; Pretty Pass

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun May 10, 2015 7:49 pm

I have always used Dancing Bear Pass in combination with Italy Pass to connect Granite Park and Bear Basin. I have been on the Italy Pass trail down by Jumble Lake and if you miss the trail you can get into very difficult talus. I did Dancing Bear last fall and even in a very dry year, the little creek that flows down the main drainage to Jumble Lake had flowing water. In fact water sources within your proposed route are close enough and reliable enough that you do not need to carry a lot of water. If you have not already done this, read Secor's guide regarding Granite Bear Pass. The north facing sides of passes often are actually easier to do when they have snow (if you are comfortable and equipped for snow climbing). Most have loose steep talus or scree when the snow is gone. You may also want to check climber.org (SPS website) and read climb reports for any of the peaks on that ridge.
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Re: Granite Bear and White Bear Passes; Pretty Pass

Postby Ska-T » Sun May 10, 2015 10:17 pm

The west side of Granite Bear Pass is class 1. The east side is class 2 unless the bergschrund against the right rock wall is so narrow that you have to do a single class 3 move. As far as Sierra passes go the walk up the east side from Granite Basin isn't vertically taxing.

I like Granite Bear Pass and don't think it should present any significant problems for you given your self-description.

-Scott
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Re: Granite Bear and White Bear Passes; Pretty Pass

Postby ExploreABitMore » Mon May 11, 2015 9:01 am

Thanks guys. I also just noticed that the forum suggested another related thread that didn't pop up when I searched, but it does show a photo of Granite Bear Pass. Doesn't look too bad in the photo. I'll probably camp nearby it the first night and if I don't like the looks of it in person for whatever reason, it's nice to know I can always use Dancing Bear Pass instead. Good to have options and either way will be an enjoyable adventure I'm sure.

Anybody been near that Pretty Pass? Or even know what the terrain is like back by Ram and Franklin Lakes?
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Re: Granite Bear and White Bear Passes; Pretty Pass

Postby maverick » Mon May 11, 2015 9:31 am


Anybody been near that Pretty Pass? Or even know what the terrain is like back by Ram and Franklin Lakes?


Try using the HST search feature: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7386&p=52183&hilit=ram+franklin+lake#p52179
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Re: Granite Bear and White Bear Passes; Pretty Pass

Postby ExploreABitMore » Mon May 11, 2015 4:02 pm

maverick wrote:

Anybody been near that Pretty Pass? Or even know what the terrain is like back by Ram and Franklin Lakes?


Try using the HST search feature: http://www.highsierratopix.com/communit ... ake#p52179


Thanks mav, I did search on Pretty Pass but it didn't bring that one up for me. Good to see, though. Sounds like I need to choose my route carefully on Pretty Pass. Also, confirms my suspicions it's gonna be beautiful back there ;-)
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Re: Granite Bear and White Bear Passes; Pretty Pass

Postby sparky » Mon May 11, 2015 4:18 pm

Pretty Pass: nothing super difficult, a little loose, a little steep, but nothing unusual. I didn't descend the west side of the pass down to franklin lake. Just the convict creek side up and down.
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