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Sierra High Route

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Sierra High Route

Postby Eastside » Sun Mar 06, 2016 10:53 pm

I'm seriously entertaining the idea of doing the SHR this Aug. but would have to do it solo. This concerns me due to the technical nature of this trip. Its hard for me to assess how my abilities match up to the reported difficulty of the route is. As an alternative, I was thinking I could piece together sections that jump back and forth between the SHR and the JMT so I can "Test the waters" and see how difficult the SHR would be. I'm totally confident with the JMT but a little uncertain about SHR. Does anyone have experience weaving themselves between these 2 trails?



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Re: Sierra High Route

Postby RoguePhotonic » Mon Mar 07, 2016 6:06 am

Maybe it's bad advise but I personally think that's all the better that you feel uncomfortable about it. It will put a great sense of adventure in the trip and make you feel more accomplished with each section you complete.

There are always ideas to bypass harder sections and mix up the over all experience. Things like If you don't want to tackle Frozen Lake Pass go around by Cartridge or do a different route such as over Dumbbell Lakes Pass. Sometimes options like this are actually more scenic than the typical route and if you have already done Mather Pass then it's a good new option.

Instead of Sky Pilot Col in the North I took a route I figured would be more scenic by going up to the Young Lakes then past Roosevelt Lake over Don't Be a Smart Pass. This route is extremely easy.

There are plenty more suggestions I could make but I have to get off to work. :)
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Re: Sierra High Route

Postby maverick » Mon Mar 07, 2016 9:21 am

Hi Eastside,

Welcome to HST! Please read and answer the following, so we can gage your experience and recommend accordingly:
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=4205

PS If you do possess the experience, then why the need to follow someone else's described route, use the intell from this route and many other TR's to piece together your own route, let your adventure spirit free, and stop containing it by the need to follow others.
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: Sierra High Route

Postby edhyatt » Mon Mar 07, 2016 10:49 pm

As above - I followed a 'loose' route along the general line last summer - winding in and out depending on how I felt, resupply and so forth.

Trip reports are on here.
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Re: Sierra High Route

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Mar 08, 2016 8:40 am

The Sierra High Route goes over one to two passes each day. It intersects the JMT at several places. What is "easy" for someone may be "hard" for someone else and each pass may change difficulties depending on weather conditions and if there is any lingering snowpack. For example, the HSR from Island Lake to Reds Meadow is a short JMT alternative. You go over two passes - White Bark and the pass by Cecile Lake. Each involve some steep slopes but quite do-able if you have some off-trail experience . If we get snow pack in the 150% range this winter, both passes could have snow on them. In this case, getting up to Cecile Lake can be on very steep snow, that does not get soft until late in the day, and if you have not done some steep snow travel, it is very intimidating and likely dangerous.

I cannot recall any HSR alternative that I would call outright easy. I would not recommend any section for someone who has never been off-trail. That said, you certainly could do some off-trail work before the trip and see how that goes. Navigation can be tricky and micro-route-finding is key; the GPS can tell you the general direction to go and locate you, but it cannot find the path of least resistance. In particular, if you have never gone over a class-2 off-trail pass, you need to get some experience in these before you do the Sierra High Route.

Since you have not told us your experience level I cannot guess if the SHR would be appropriate for you or not. I think the issue of solo or with a group matters less than your previous off-trail experience as long as you are OK with being on your own. But if you psychologically or even practically depend on others to bolster your efforts, solo on the HSR may not be your cup of tea. There is a lot more decision making to be done off-trail, and some people like to have others to share this and act as a check. I find that off-trail, the mental effort is quite intense, and after a long stretch, it is quite relaxing to get on a trial. But then, one day on the trail and I am bored and cannot wait to get back off-trail!
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Re: Sierra High Route

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Mar 08, 2016 8:59 am

PS. When you read the trip reports here be aware that most of the people doing them are VERY experienced off-trail backpackers. For example, when I did the route solo, I had already done bits and pieces previously, so really knew what I was getting into. A 7-mile off-trial day is considered a good day. If you decide to take some HSR alternates while doing the JMT, be aware that you will make significantly lower mileage on the HSR. Doing the HSR and using the JMT for alternate routes to detour sections of the HSR is a different beast than using the HSR as a detour for the JMT. Just be aware that, even if you are qualified, you will likely have to add some days to make this work.

Ed's report is an example of doing the SHR quickly. Ed is a mean, mile-making backpacking machine!

My report (2010) is an example that shows that old, slow backpackers can also do the route! It just takes us longer.

What we both have in common is previous off-trail experience.
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Re: Sierra High Route

Postby Eastside » Tue Mar 08, 2016 10:06 pm

Excellent advice all around, thanks for weighing in. I consider myself to have a decent amount of experience, but all of my experience has been on trail. However I'm usually the one at the end of the trip who has some gas left in the tank and wants to keep going (maybe because I overpack on power foods!). I really enjoy the challenge of long trips, high altitudes and hard passes. Every time I'm out there I just want to go in farther into more difficult and remote areas. I certainly need to test my abilities off trail class 2 and see how it feels. Thanks again for the input.
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Re: Sierra High Route

Postby Ikan Mas » Fri Mar 11, 2016 1:34 pm

Before committing yourself to a long, potentially rough, and logistically complex trip, I would recommend that you do a week long route with several off-trail passes and see how you feel about it. Like you, I am a reasonably experienced trail hiker that wanted to try some off trail work. I did Pants Pass several years ago and wanted more. Two years ago, me and my hiking partner did the Piute Pass-Puppet Pass-Italy Pass-Dancing Bear Pass-Feather Pass-French Canyon to Piute Pass route that starts at North Lake (Humphries and Bear Basins). It was a great trip and mentally very rewarding. When we finished, we felt that we had advanced a level beyond where we were before the trip. Here is the trip report link: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=11833
I think you will find this trip either challenging enough to spur you on for more or the alternative. The passes on this trip are not the hardest by any means, but will give you a good idea of what you would be in for day in day out on the SHR. If you decide you that off trail isn't for you, the backtrack to the nearest trail is pretty easy and there are a lot of nice places to see in the area on the trail.

Subsequent to this, I have gone on to do some really challenging climbing/trails in Japan solo as well as tough treks in a variety of places. I look back at the photos of my first trip with my son's scout troop in 2003 realize how far I have come.
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Re: Sierra High Route

Postby wanderin.jack » Sat Mar 12, 2016 6:07 am

I found it useful to do the HSR in the direction the Roper wrote it, northward, and also to try a few sections first to see how his language lined up with the facts as I saw them on the ground. Lastly Andrew Skurka has a HSR map pack out that is very useful. I know of one section where he suggested an alternative that is critical, I think around bighorn pass. In that particular situation I found Ropers route to be quite dangerous and Skurka's route alternative to be much safer with the same outcome. Good luck


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Re: Sierra High Route

Postby Pietro257 » Sun Mar 20, 2016 9:26 pm

I second what others said. Doing the whole route is very ambitious. Try one section and see how it works for you. The route finding can be frustrating, and when it's hot and you're in the middle of a talus field and you're low on water, it can be very frustrating. The rewards of the Sierra High Route are great but it's not for everybody.
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