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Shepherd Pass (crossing Symmes during peak flows)

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Shepherd Pass (crossing Symmes during peak flows)

Postby commonloon » Thu May 26, 2016 12:31 pm

Hello All,

I'm planning on going up Shepherd in a couple of weeks w/ a couple of buddies. All three of us are ice axe and crampon proficient and varying degrees of alpine/climbing experience. Level 4 backpackers. I've been up Shepherd's multiple times, and am familiar with the big new gully and the snow headwall at the pass. All that said it seems likely we will arrive during close to or peak flows. I understand 2 of the 4 Symmes Creek creek crossing can be skipped by bushwacking.

My questions are:

1) what are the 2 "Mandatory" crossings like a high flows?

2) Is there an alternative cross country route (this could involve scrambling/climbing) from the trailhead?

Thanks in advance. I owe you guys a couple of trip reports!



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Re: Shepherd Pass (crossing Symmes during peak flows)

Postby vhsvhs » Thu May 26, 2016 12:56 pm

I've climbed Shepherd in June of a heavy snow year, and I don't recall any easy way to avoid crossing Symmes Creek; the canyon is very narrow at this point, and overgrown with alder and willow. That said, I don't think the creek crossing here is especially dangerous; just go slow and prepare to get wet up to your waist. The flow can be very fast, but there's many submerged boulders you can use to prevent getting swept away. Maybe someone else on this forum can chime in with their experiences crossing Symmes?
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Re: Shepherd Pass (crossing Symmes during peak flows)

Postby commonloon » Thu May 26, 2016 1:25 pm

Thanks! I've only been across it with very little flow... thats helpful.
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Re: Shepherd Pass (crossing Symmes during peak flows)

Postby Hobbes » Thu May 26, 2016 2:58 pm

It's the snowed-in headwall that gives me the willies, not Symmes. Still, if you've got the gear, you might even consider going straight up and over, rather than traverse.

You guys going to climb any peaks?
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Re: Shepherd Pass (crossing Symmes during peak flows)

Postby maverick » Thu May 26, 2016 3:04 pm

Symmes will not be a high danger creek, knee deep possibly, and fast moving, similar to Tabbose Creek in early season, Tyndall Creek would be more of a concern.
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Re: Shepherd Pass (crossing Symmes during peak flows)

Postby commonloon » Thu May 26, 2016 9:18 pm

I agree Hobbes, the headwall traverse up towards the top can be a bit exposed. No peaks. This trip is a warm up/shake down trip before we do a section of the Sierra High Route later in the month.

Maverick -- In the past I've avoided crossing Tyndall by the JMT junction and crossed it higher up, then a little x-country to the Lake South America trail, etc. but we'll see.

Thanks for the help.
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