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Knapsack Pass

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Re: Knapsack Pass

Postby gregodorizzi » Mon Jul 17, 2017 5:58 pm

For what it's worth, I came back yesterday from this very area, and I tried in vain to travel from lower Palisade Lake to Palisade Basin via Cirque Pass. The snow seemed patchy from a distance, which gave me hope of finding a safe route, but up close, I was too scared to give it a try. I came down from Palisade Basin on this route last year, so I had a good idea of what to look for, but the snow closed out all the safe-looking class 3 climbs. I was alone, and my wife told me not to get hurt, so I turned around. As for the other route to Palisade Basin up the creek from Deer Meadow, I've not gone this way, but I certainly wouldn't have tried it on my trip. All of the feeder streams into Palisade Creek were roaring, and Palisade Creek was angry. I had hoped to go to Amphitheater Lake from Deer Meadow, but that idea was literally washed out.

As for Knapsack Pass, from the Dusy Basin side, it was mostly covered with snow (as was Thunderbolt Col; Isoscoles had a bit less, though). Earlier in my trip, I had actually started to go via Knapsack to Palisade Basin, but I went too deep down into Dusy from Bishop Pass before looking for a spot to cross the creek, and that creek was just as ferocious. I spent considerable time going downstream, each moment, thinking "just a bit further, I'll find the spot to cross." It was a slippery slope, morale-wise. I should've headed upstream from the first moment.



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Re: Knapsack Pass

Postby maverick » Mon Jul 17, 2017 6:50 pm

Hi Gregodorizza,

Welcome to HST! Thank you for the conditions update. Looking forward to reading your TR and seeing the wonderful pictures. :unibrow:
Professional Sierra Landscape Photographer

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: Knapsack Pass

Postby Mike M. » Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:57 pm

Dave, I just want to point out (as I'm sure you are aware) that your proposed route has you dropping down about 2,000 feet from Lower Palisade Lake to Deer Meadow, then turning north up Barrett Creek, a truly gnarly and steep 2500' ascent to the lowest Barrett Lake. (Could turn into a major bushwhack. Moreover, a fire ripped through Deer Meadow a few years back and the area still looked pretty bleak when I was last there in 2009.) Were I you, I would opt for the more scenic Cirque/Potluck route.

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Re: Knapsack Pass

Postby giantbrookie » Mon Jul 17, 2017 11:12 pm

cgundersen wrote:Hi Dave,
I've descended from Barrett Lakes to Deer Meadow and it certainly works, but I'm guessing that it will be appreciably tougher heading up that way. The simple reason is that from above you have a much better perspective of the terrain and it's easier to choose a route that is not clogged with vegetation, nasty scree or big rocks. When ascending, one's visibility is often limited, and it's harder to choose a convenient path. That said, I'd certainly not discourage you from having a go at it; after all, if you're looking for a challenge and a bit of adventure, this will probably be your piece de resistance. And, it'll make Knapsack a stroll in the park......... Cameron


I also have ascended and descended the outlet of the Barrett Lakes to and from Deer Meadow. It was a very fine route for my wife and I (but see additional notes below) (all class 1 and 2) the key is to stay fairly close to the stream on its west side in the steep portion except at the bottom waterfall where one veers a tad further west to avoid the cliffs. This means being on the W side of the creek from an elevation of about 10500' downward. There was one fairly wet but not hazardous stream crossing a tad below 10400 (you'll see this on the topo map--we did it late July of 1993 (1993 was a fairly heavy snowfall year but not as heavy as this one). The descent was done during a relatively mellow day going from upper Dusy Basin via Knapsack to Deer Meadow. The ascent was part of the most epic single day of backpacking my wife and I ever did--we went from Amphitheater Lake to South Lake (Cataract Creek-Barrett Creek-Knapsack Pass-Bishop Pass) on the final day of a Dumbbell Lakes trip. In any case, whereas we found the route enjoyable others following our glowing report were not so enamored of this route. It is reported that the backcountry echoed with curses of my name on the day they were stuck in the brush on that route. Was it because they went down the E side of the creek or was it because a fire had caused brush to grow back more densely there since we did it in '93? I'm not sure. It is safe to say that there are mixed reviews of this route.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: Knapsack Pass

Postby cgundersen » Tue Jul 18, 2017 10:08 am

Dave, it will be interesting to see how these responses affect the route you choose and how it plays out. From the firsthand report, it sounds like you could have your hands full staying high. But, going down and up has its issues, too. Either way, good luck!
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Re: Knapsack Pass

Postby hurricaniac » Wed Jul 19, 2017 3:44 pm

I came down Barrett Creek from Knapsack Pass 3 yrs ago and it was easy until we hit the burned area 1/4 mi from the bottom at the JMT where the buckthorn was a pain. The easiest route to go up would be to start on the W. side of the creek, then cross over when the cliffs start, then back again to the W. side about a 1/2 mi. up.
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Re: Knapsack Pass

Postby acvdmlac » Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:54 pm

As a relative acrophobe I know I'm a minority voice here but I would choose Chimney over Cirque as the first XC pass from Lower Palisade Lake. Chimney is more tiring, but much less exposure and less route-finding problems if one pays attention (which I didn't when crossing Chimney). We could not find a way to avoid Cirque's steep, wet, narrow, grassy slabs with lethal drop-offs if one slips out. After either one, Knapsack is a cakewalk in comparison. Can't imagine why anyone would want to drop down to boring Deer Meadow rather than stay high the whole way from Palisades Lakes to Dusy Basin, but to each their own...You can view my comments on Chimney here: viewtopic.php?f=31&t=13570&p=109510#p109510
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Re: Knapsack Pass

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu Jul 20, 2017 9:00 am

If you want to drop down to Deer Meadow just to see the Golden Staircase on the PCT (which is really beautiful- worth seeing if you have not been here before), you could continue on the PCT and go up the trail to Dusy Basin, which is also quite beautiful (also worth doing if you have never been on it and with good views of the Black Divide). Although longer, trails are good and you can make good time.

You can avoid the steep slabs on Cirque Pass. I was reluctant to do it because it was lightly raining, so I stayed high and traversed east before dropping down. It was still steep but not exposed, and more importantly, not on slick rocks, rather on dirt and grassy paths. Route finding was tricky. I tried to go up that same route a few years later, and never found it, but did find another route that worked out about the same.
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