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trip planning advice:Rodgers Pass to LyellofMerced & Hutchin

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trip planning advice:Rodgers Pass to LyellofMerced & Hutchin

Postby tahoe23 » Tue Aug 09, 2016 12:56 pm

Hi High Sierra Topix Community,
I guess you'd call me a "lurker". I've been using your information to help plan my cross country trips in the Sierra. Last year I used a TR of Wandering Daisy's for a fantastic trip over Taboose Pass, Cartridge Pass, Dumbell Pass and Cataract Pass. Her detailed descriptions of the passes really increased our enjoyment and helped keep anxiety at bay.
I've been eyeing the Hutchings Creek and Lyell Fork of the Merced for years and am planning on going next week. I was a bit dismayed to see that you just had your meet-up there, but I guess that confirms my suspicions that this is a special spot and I can use your recent travels to help plan my route.
We have 5 full days, and the car shuttle and permits will be set the day before.
Day 1:June Lake up Rush creek to Marie lakes That meadow below the lakes is so lovely.
Day 2: up and over Rodgers Pass, except I keep reading about the heinous and scary loose scree/talus (what is the difference?) on the west side of Rodgers Pass.Is it really that bad if one takes it slow and cautiously? How to safely do with 3 people? One at a time? spread out or stick together? On so many of my Sierra cross country travels I really enjoy the adventure of the passes and as much I try to avoid where possible, I understand that scree and talus are one of the unpleasant prices we pay to access these special places.
Day 3: Sluggo pass into Hutchings
Day 4:: Hutchings to Florence Lake area-any recommendations for routes and destinations?
Day 5:Hit the trail out to Vogelsang, Rafferty Creek, Tuolumne.

So question is: Rodgers Pass? or is there another route to consider that will work in my time frame? I considered North Glacier Pass (have done before) and then Old Bones or Blue Lake Pass as I have not visited Bench Canyon. But I don't think we have time to go this route. Should I consider Russel pass or Lyell col?

The other (completely different) trip we have considered is an Evolution loop. Comments?

A bit about me (and my partners): We live in Tahoe, so already mostly acclimated. Rock-climbers, so OK with class 3, but won't have gear for technical. We do many High Sierra trips with the goal of staying high and off trail as much as possible. Have done many sections of Roper's SHR and through hiked the JMT. Much prefer granite slabs and meadows to talus hoping. :}

Need to start and end on the Eastside.

Thanks for any input and I'll submit a TR when I return.

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Re: trip planning advice:Rodgers Pass to LyellofMerced & Hut

Postby Hobbes » Tue Aug 09, 2016 3:26 pm

tahoe23 wrote:I've been eyeing the Hutchings Creek and Lyell Fork of the Merced for years and am planning on going next week.

Here's a TR from 2007 from Cam Gundersen that utilized the pass between Ireland & upper Lewis creek going south after cutting over from the JMT:


They then went over "Pothole pass" into the upper Hutchings basin (X marks the spot): ... &z=14&t=t4

From there, they went over Sluggo pass and down into the upper Lyell fork of the Merced basin. If you read the TR comments exchange, you can see there was some discussion of how to get down from the upper Florence lakes area (especially around the falls) from the Pothole pass area. Going the other way (north), it may be easier to exit out of the upper Lewis creek region after going over Pothole pass.

"Wildhiker" just posted up the south->north route from Bernice over Ireland/Lewis pass and down/across the JMT, so if you wanted to get on the trail to Vogelsang, all you would have to do is reverse the course after coming over from Hutchings. Or, follow his directions to hike out to the Tioga road via Kuna crest.


Earlier this year, this poster was asking about the same route information with respect to both Sluggo & Pothole pass. WD provided some information about Sluggo pass:


Cam returned to the area via Rogers pass a year later (2008) using the exact same east->west route over Rogers that you are considering:


These guys went over Rogers east->west as well in 2008, but after hiking down the JMT from Tuolumne: ... l-Forks-TR


So far, at least as trip reports have (not) been written, no one has linked up an end-to-end x-country hike from Rush/Agnew to Tuolumne via the Cathedrals that you are describing. Between Rogers, Sluggo, Pothole and Lewis/Ireland pass, it's a mix of class II+ and III that seems to be pretty daunting. I suggested here (viewtopic.php?f=1&t=14805#p110627) that Roper diverted down the the Isberg/Rafferty trails after Blue Lakes pass because there wasn't a readily doable route over the Cathedral range that didn't involve some advanced route finding & hiking/climbing skills. (Note that both Cam & WD are very experienced, so I would read their comments/reports with some consideration as to your own skill/desire level.)

That being said, it would be cool if someone actually did this route. If it was doable, it could open up an alternate SHR route through this section 30+ years later after Roper first published his book.
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Re: trip planning advice:Rodgers Pass to LyellofMerced & Hut

Postby maverick » Tue Aug 09, 2016 5:12 pm

Hi Tahoe23,

Welcome to HST! To bad you missed the Meet-up.

Would recommend not doing Rogers' northern side with a full pack, using as an exit route towards the Rush Creek area is fine, but since you are interested in visiting the Hutchings Creek Basin (very pretty), would recommend doing the SHR using Blue Lake Pass, once over the pass do not drop down below 10800 and contour around Foerster Peaks western side and use Foerster Ridge (class 2) to access the upper Lyell Fork Basin, then use Sluggo Pass to gain access into Hutchings, from Hutchings Basin start north from Lake 10505 veering east as you get higher in the basin and use Russell Pass (class 2) to access the Maclure Creek drainage and hook up with the JMT from there.

By 5 full days do you mean 5 nights?
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:
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Re: trip planning advice:Rodgers Pass to LyellofMerced & Hut

Postby tahoe23 » Tue Aug 09, 2016 6:15 pm

Thanks for the recommendations. Yes 5 nights, 6 days. I've been up to Maclure Lake on a previous attempt to visit the SW side of Mt Lyell, but did not have enough time to go over Russell Pass. I'm determined to make it this year!
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