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Flatlanders seeking advice on High Sierra Trail in spring

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Flatlanders seeking advice on High Sierra Trail in spring

Postby Moops » Sun Apr 17, 2016 8:44 pm

Hi forum,

I've been lurking here for some time. I am planing on the HST for early May 2016 in a group of 4. We have little experience backpacking, however are well versed trad climbers with experience on class 3-5 approaches/climbs (no ice climbing, but all grew up with snow/ice). We have been anticipating having to make a last minute decision on whether the conditions will permit a through hike. Having never been to the area, and after endless searches on weather/conditions report provided by this awesome forum, we remain unsure of the feasibility and type of gear we might need. :paranoid:

For those of you who are more experienced in the Sierras, can you suggest to us hypothetical conditions and potential advice on gear, mileage, and feasibility? For example, today I saw Chagoopa Plateau Station measured 37 in snow depth which is ~2.5 mi north of Moraine Lake--- is that impassible without snowshoes?

If that request seems unrealistic, let me know! We just have no idea what to expect. We also understand that much respect is needed for natural conditions and safety is our priority. Any advice would be very helpful. :thumbsup:



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Re: Flatlanders seeking advice on High Sierra Trail in sprin

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Apr 18, 2016 7:53 am

What's going to turn you around is snowmelt. Streams will be very high, some of them impassable. And you cannot mitigate that without a bridge.

The cruddy spring snow conditions as the melt progresses are uncomfortable, sometimes dangerous if you aren't aware of the danger of snow bridges, but trying to cross a stream that's not crossable is much more quickly fatal.

Mosquitoes will start soon.

Not the best time for this. There are no workarounds on the High Sierra Trail for places like Buck Creek -- no log crossings, no rock hops, no hiking up a mile for a shallow ford.

And when you get to the other end, the road to Whitney Portal may or may not be open. Whitney itself will be an icy dangerous experience. Chagoopa is beside the point -- places like the trail up to Hamilton Lake, Precipice Lake, where one slip sends you into a canyon to die, are the problem. You already don't know the gear you need, so you already answered your own question of whether you should go.
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Re: Flatlanders seeking advice on High Sierra Trail in sprin

Postby Moops » Mon Apr 18, 2016 9:04 am

Thanks AlmostThere. That is the response I was looking for. Hope others will chime in here.

If some flatlanders like us want a scenic and challenging taste of the high country, where do you suggest a 7 day trip in King's Canyon/Sequoia with all the snowmelt?

If I need to post somewhere else for this, someone please direct me. Sorry I'm new.
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Re: Flatlanders seeking advice on High Sierra Trail in sprin

Postby SSSdave » Mon Apr 18, 2016 9:13 am

May = cold nights, soggy, dangerous streams, frozen lakes, snow covered trails, harsh light scenery
June = chilly nights, soggy, mosquitoey, dangerous streams, snow on shaded trails, ice bergs on lakes
early July = pleasant, mosquitoey, early wildflowers, snow on peaks a little on trails at passes, scenic
mid July + = pleasant, lots of wildflowers, dry trails, snow on peaks, scenic
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Re: Flatlanders seeking advice on High Sierra Trail in sprin

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Apr 18, 2016 9:16 am

Before all the roads open? Perhaps the southern end of the PCT....

A seven day in SEKI is out of the question unless you are prepared for snow and ice.
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Re: Flatlanders seeking advice on High Sierra Trail in sprin

Postby maverick » Mon Apr 18, 2016 10:02 am

Hi Moops,

Welcome to HST!

Saying that you should go for it, is like saying to someone who just started doing A0 and A1 bouldering and some top rope, to go Trad up Snake Dyke, don't do it.
No High Sierra location will be accessable in May this year, especially for someone with no experience in snow camping, cross country navagation (trails will be covered with snow), swift creek crossing experience, and many other things that would put your groups lives at danger!
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: Flatlanders seeking advice on High Sierra Trail in sprin

Postby Moops » Mon Apr 18, 2016 10:20 am

Thanks maverick,

The climbing comparison gives me great perspective. Already looking for other winter camping alternatives. I've posted somewhere else for suggestions following the forum's advice for looking for recommendations. Please chime in, looking for some schooling from the forum!

Post is called "Trip Recommendation early May 5-7-day Sequoia/ King's Canyon" [-o<
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Re: Flatlanders seeking advice on High Sierra Trail in sprin

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Apr 20, 2016 1:47 pm

Why SEKI? Is Yosemite too far of a drive? Why not the east side?

I do not necessarily agree that snow in early May will be horrible. Depends on how "old" the snow is and if it is regularly freezing at night or not. The trend now seems to be earlier melting than in the past, regardless of the April 1 snowpack. As hot as it has been the last week or so, the snow may consolidate earlier than historically. Usually you can walk on top in the morning. Tends to break down in afternoons. Early May is likely to be pre-peak runoff, so stream crossings may not be that bad.

South facing trails, on the southeast side, lower elevation trailheads, are open early. For example, First or second Lake with day-hike to Third Lake. Very scenic, some snow, but short distances and no significant creek crossings.
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Re: Flatlanders seeking advice on High Sierra Trail in sprin

Postby balance » Wed Apr 20, 2016 8:02 pm

Greetings Moops

Have you considered the Dome Land or Golden Trout Wilderness, which is the southern end of the Sierra Nevada?

Around August is the best time for the HST.
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