Trip Report: Southern Sierra High Route - August, 2020

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!
Post Reply
User avatar
iainmacdonald
Topix Novice
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Jan 14, 2020 10:27 am
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Trip Report: Southern Sierra High Route - August, 2020

Post by iainmacdonald » Wed Jan 20, 2021 7:41 pm

Hey all, with the dark times upon us I've been able to work through some of my photos from trips this summer. I wanted to share a trip report with you all from a hike of the Southern Sierra High Route that I undertook in mid August of this year (2020). You probably won't be surprised to hear that we were hit with some thunderstorms and had some wildfire impacts, but all things told we actually were very fortunate. I hope you enjoy reading about my hike!

The trip report can be found here: https://www.iain-macdonald.com/southern ... rip-report








User avatar
balzaccom
Topix Addict
Posts: 2283
Joined: Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:22 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: Trip Report: Southern Sierra High Route - August, 2020

Post by balzaccom » Wed Jan 20, 2021 10:21 pm

This is my favorite TR of the year--or last year! Great report, fabulous photos-- I saw that big camera you were carrying -- and tons of great information. I had loads of fun following along on my topos maps, too. Thank you making this available to us. Five stars!
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Docent
Posts: 5273
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Experience: N/A
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Contact:

Re: Trip Report: Southern Sierra High Route - August, 2020

Post by Wandering Daisy » Thu Jan 21, 2021 10:18 am

Beautiful photos. Those were some long days!

As for off-trail route descriptions, including the side-climbs, not mentioning tedious talus or "class 2" turning into "class 3", micro-route finding can make a big difference and much talus is covered with snow early season or in a high-snow year. More of the snow fields are gone late season in a dry year; unfortunately this seems to be what the future will look like given global warming and I think a lot of older route descriptions will fail to mention tedious talus.

Although I can see the aesthetics of a straight-line route from Whitney via Discover Pass to Sky Blue Lake, I would have dropped to the middle Crabtree Lake to camp, with a side trip to the lower Crabtree Lake. Crabtree Valley is one of the more spectacular in the Sierra. I also would have gone out via New Army Pass just to see Cottonwood Lakes. And from Wallace Lake I would have taken a side trip to Wales Lake because the view from the outlet is wonderful. In general, I think the time taken for some of the rather tedious "climbs" could be better spent on side-trips to other destinations for the purpose of stunning photos. But, easy for me to say because after many years climbing Sierra peaks, I have already done most of them.

It looks like you had light packs; did you go UL?

There seemed to be a lot of people out there; I would not have expected that this year.

User avatar
sekihiker
Founding Member
Posts: 713
Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2005 2:47 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: Fresno
Contact:

Re: Trip Report: Southern Sierra High Route - August, 2020

Post by sekihiker » Thu Jan 21, 2021 5:09 pm

So many photos of great quality that captured the essence of the subject. What an adventure. Thanks for posting this report of an epic trip.

User avatar
iainmacdonald
Topix Novice
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Jan 14, 2020 10:27 am
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Re: Trip Report: Southern Sierra High Route - August, 2020

Post by iainmacdonald » Sun Jan 24, 2021 8:24 am

Thanks for the comments everyone, glad you enjoyed the read.

@Wandering Daisy - yes I suspect that some routes are changing due to receding snowfields and glaciers. I observed this more distinctly climbing Middle Palisade earlier in the year, where the standard route has been modified because a snowfield has made the old route more difficult. Don't know if this is the case for the route on Mount Sill or not, but much of it probably would have been easier with some snow.

I will definitely have to return to Crabtree Lakes in a year or two, I'd like to climb some more of the peaks in the area there. I just wish it wasn't such a long drive from the Bay Area... I'll have to do it as a longer trip to make it worth the drive. And we did go over New Army Pass, the Cottonwood Lakes area was really nice with the light forest and high lakes.

Our packs were something like 25 and 30 lbs (or maybe a little bit less) when we started with 5 days of food. So I guess that's ultralight, though I did add my usual 5 pounds of camera gear for photos.

User avatar
stevet
Topix Regular
Posts: 107
Joined: Sun Jan 29, 2006 8:46 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: Clifton Park, New York
Contact:

Re: Trip Report: Southern Sierra High Route - August, 2020

Post by stevet » Mon Jan 25, 2021 10:41 am

Thanks for sharing this. Excellent photos and routing commentary drew me right in. Let me put in a word for Center Basin / Junction Pass, well at least the traverse through Center Basin and up Junction Pass.

User avatar
robertseeburger
Topix Regular
Posts: 292
Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2011 6:53 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: San Mateo Ca

Re: Trip Report: Southern Sierra High Route - August, 2020

Post by robertseeburger » Mon Jan 25, 2021 7:34 pm

This is a great trip report!
Epic photography.
I especially enjoyed the rainbow shot over Pallisade Lakes.

A couple of comments..

I did the slog thru the boulders below Sill as well. It is truly slow..I agree but I still think this climb is worth it.

On Mount Russell, the comment was that from the south someone said it was class 4-5. I can tell you I did that climb from the south and I was able to do it with nothing more than class 3. But it was one of those climbs where you aren't sure where the next move is, and voila the relatively easy moves show themselves. When I was at the bottom of the headwall, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to do it. But it wasn't really very difficult.
And this is from a guy who turned around on Mount Muir. I couldn't find a way that I could do. I guess I need to try that again. Sounds like you had an easier time.

Onn Mount Mcadie..it is a really cool peak if you decide to do it. I did from Crabtree pass, which is a real slog up the chute that you took some good shots of. But then it turns in to some interesting but not too difficult class 3.

Congratulations on a real cool trip and report..great pictures!

User avatar
Lumbergh21
Topix Expert
Posts: 467
Joined: Mon Oct 31, 2016 10:11 pm
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker

Re: Trip Report: Southern Sierra High Route - August, 2020

Post by Lumbergh21 » Mon Jan 25, 2021 8:16 pm

I thought that i had already posted my thanks and congratulations on an awesome trip, but apparently not. So...
Wow! Awesome photos of an awesome adventure. Thank you for the trip report. I may be modifying a hike I was planning for late August in this area after seeing some of the places that you guys went.

User avatar
davidsheridan
Topix Regular
Posts: 211
Joined: Thu Jul 10, 2014 2:56 pm
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker

Re: Trip Report: Southern Sierra High Route - August, 2020

Post by davidsheridan » Mon Jan 25, 2021 8:47 pm

Amazing trip and very impressive strength and stamina for you both.

How did you manage so many fine photos ehile travelling so fast?

I hope to make it to some of those areas this summer. fingers crossed!

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 9 guests