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Graveyard Pass

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Graveyard Pass

Postby hawkfeather » Tue Feb 10, 2009 4:53 pm

I've started thinking about a trip next summer for my husband and me, early mid-August, that would run about a week (out on day 8). One of my dream itineraries would be take the Edison ferry, go up to Mott Lake, over to the Tully/Cotton Lakes area, then to Hortense Lake, somehow or other over or around to the Indian Lakes, then to Peter Pande, over Graveyard Pass to Graveyard Lakes, and out.

To start off, I've got a question regarding Graveyard Pass. Is it the little notch just NE of Graveyard Peak (between it and peak 11225') where you'd go up from the vicinity of Anne Lake, or is it the slightly wider dip east of peak 11225' that you'd reach from the small, irregularly shaped lake E of Peter Pande? The latter looks somewhat less steep on the topo, with a bench or two that might prove useful. It's been 20+ years since we've been to Graveyard Lakes (the pictures are stored away somewhere), and we've never been to the Peter Pande area. Has anyone here ever done either of these two routes or eyeballed them from either side? Our packs should be pretty light at this point, but we're not as young as we used to be (translation: we've done some things in the past that now strike us as completely nuts) and would probably prefer to avoid the upper end of class 2, whatever that means. At least for long stretches. But we both enjoy xc travel and want to continue for as long as we can.

Awhile ago, there was a thread on this list about getting from Hortense to Warrior Lake. Has anybody done it since or have further thoughts about how it might be done? Of course, we could simply try to follow the easiest contours down towards Tully Hole, to the right of the outlet stream, and then take the JMT back up past Squaw, etc. But we've done that stretch of the JMT a couple of times before, and the idea of "back up" has always annoyed me if one might just as well do a bit of up and then down.

Another area I'm considering is Blackcap Basin, which we also haven't gotten to yet, but will save that for another post.

Hawkfeather



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Re: Graveyard Pass

Postby hikerduane » Tue Feb 10, 2009 6:16 pm

I don't have my map handy, I work out of town. I've been to upper Graveyard and eye balled it a little. Pretty good climb out, but people go out that way.to get to Peter Pande. Sorry, I can't be more specific, I do know people go that way regularly. I don't know if you can contour around from Hortense, I had no luck contouring around from Izaak Walton a couple years ago to Hortense, I kept running into cliffs, I should have gone up from Izaak Walton, the way I took a quick peak years ago the first time I was at Izaak Walton. As an after thought, you can go out of Bighorn to Tully Hole too if not already planning on that. If too much snow, not doable unless you have crampons or ice axe.

SSSDave might be a good source too, he has hit the Silver Divide pretty thouroughly.
Last edited by hikerduane on Tue Feb 10, 2009 6:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Piece of cake.
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Re: Graveyard Pass

Postby maverick » Tue Feb 10, 2009 6:17 pm

Hi Hawkfeather
Below is a link showing a northern and southern view of the pass which is not difficult
except for some talus as you'll see on the pic's.
The Hortense to Warrior looks doable though it looks as though it will be out of
your comfort level, especially the climbing over the ridge part to get down to
Warrior Lake which may take some route finding.
The hanging valley above Izaak Walton Lake up to the first lake and then up the ridge
to the pass from where you would head down to the two small lakes south of Warrior Lake
maybe a decent alternative.
http://images.search.yahoo.com/search/i ... ass&sz=all
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Re: Graveyard Pass

Postby giantbrookie » Tue Feb 10, 2009 10:37 pm

I always lose track of the name of various off trail passes given that I'm used to the old school Roper and Voge style of simply denoting the pass elevation and its location relative to some known point. Both of the gaps out of the Graveyards are class 2 and I've done both of them. I think the one called Graveyard Pass is the 10640+ due north of the biggest Graveyard Lake. This one leads to the unnamed lake that is east of Peter Pande. The other one (forgot the name) is at elevation 10800+ and takes you to Anne Lake. In late June 1985 I went with my then-girlfriend (before I met my wife) who was not a particularly strong hiker and we went into Minnow Creek drainage via Graveyard Pass and departed via the other western one from Anne Lake. I remember the passes as garden variety class 2--some talus and slabs, but nothing remotely approaching class 3. In contrast, in late July 1995 my wife (much stronger hiker than the person I went with 10 years earlier) and I went over Graveyard Pass and back in rather early season conditions (1995 was a very heavy snowfall year). The top of the pass was an impressive snow/ice wall and my wife took a horrifying fall off the top on the way in that sent her over 100' feet (in elevation) down the north side. Fortunately she was unhurt. The climb back a few days later was even scarier because enough snow had melted to make a gentle run out less likely in the event of a fall (lots of rocks sticking out). The top 15' was the steepest snow ascent I've ever done with a full pack and maybe the steepest snow or ice I've ever climbed. Bottom line is that those passes are easy unless one forces things too early in the season. To give you an idea how "early" late July was in 1995, nearly all of the lakes in the area were frozen over--the Graveyards, all of the Peter Pande et al. group, 95 percent of Wilbur May. Only Grassy Lake was thawed. This won't be a problem in 2009 unless something drastically changes with our weather.
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Re: Graveyard Pass

Postby Take-a-Hike » Tue Feb 10, 2009 10:59 pm

or is it the slightly wider dip east of peak 11225' that you'd reach from the small, irregularly shaped lake E of Peter Pande? The
That would be your route. We did it, wife 'n I, a few years ago, but from the other direction. It's a bit easier on the south side, more talus on the north...proved a bit difficult to wife as she was recovering from a messed up ACL injury the winter before. But still is nothing difficult once you spend a few minutes, 15-20 or so, getting across that stuff. We had no snow problems...there was remnants of a snow field on top, but easy to get around. Normal snow year, if I remember right. It was our first experience at cross country and proved uneventful for us except for some weather issues that we barely escaped the worst of. Taught us a lesson to pack more sensibly regarding all weather clothing.
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Re: Graveyard Pass

Postby hawkfeather » Wed Feb 11, 2009 9:47 pm

Thank you all--hikerduane, maverick, giantbrookie and Take-a-Hike--for your helpful responses to my post. You've confirmed for me that the pass directly above the big Upper Graveyard Lake, east of Peak 11225', is *it*--and from the pictures maverick sent, it looks delightful. Weather and lingering snow dependent, of course. I appreciate your observations regarding snow conditions. Giantbrookie, the experience you and your wife had must have been terrifying; she was very lucky that it was no worse. Years ago, the first time we went up from Mott to Bighorn and over to Tully, there was a huge snowfield on the north side of the pass. We didn't have ice axes and crampons, but what the hey *we were there* and we did have an orange plastic trowel and a good length of parachute cord (back in the days before bear cans). I leave the rest to your imagination. It turned into one of those adventures that we swore we'd never repeat. At least, we somehow made it safely to Tully, though our behinds were very wet and cold, and there was a retrospective learning curve. But I don't think that snow is apt to be a problem this year, unless things do change drastically.

Your various thoughts about possible xc routes from Hortense to Warrior have me frowning and scratching my head. Probably a good thing. The one going via the little lake above Walton and then over to the little lakes south of Warrior looks interesting--on the topo anyway. I'm going to have to rummage through some photos I know I have and can locate that were taken from the vicinity of Squaw and/or Chief, which may show some of the terrain. If it can be done without becoming a high risk (for us) endeavor, it would be fun, but it's not a "must do".

And I'm still thinking about Blackcap Basin as an alternate destination. So many wonderful places, so little time....
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Re: Graveyard Pass

Postby giantbrookie » Wed Feb 11, 2009 10:06 pm

hawkfeather wrote:And I'm still thinking about Blackcap Basin as an alternate destination. So many wonderful places, so little time....

Blackcap and the Peter Pande to Hortense area are both very nice. However, I think you'll find that Blackcap is more off the beaten path and sees far fewer folks in my experience. I was in Blackcap in 2007 and didn't see a soul there (besides my own group) for three days. In contrast, while one can get to a secluded trailless place in the Graveyard to Hortense area, one is never far from a relatively popular trail. Even the approach trails to Blackcap are comparatively lightly traveled. If you like fishing, the fishing is probably about equal: both areas are quite good and a little bit of snooping around can get you to places with big fish. It is interesting that you considering these two areas as competing alternatives. They were competing alternatives for me in 2007 when I chose Blackcap as my (not quite annual) big hike. One of my three alternatives in 2007 (ultimately ranked no. 3) was a loop that went out of Edison to Devils Bathtub then over a cross country pass to Margaret over another saddle S of Silver Peak and then traverse to Anne/Peter Pande, then to Brave L. then to Hortense thence back to the Silver Pass side of things then over another off trail notch to Feather Lake, then pack to Edison. I will do that one someday (and hopefully with more than the 5 days that I was compelled to cram that itinerary into).
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: Graveyard Pass

Postby hikerduane » Thu Feb 12, 2009 7:46 pm

I'm with you guys on so many wonderful places to go and so little time. I won't have a week long summer trip to the Sierra this year, I have a trip planned for more remote country, a dream come true, hopefully. The long trip to the Sierra will have to wait until Oct.
Piece of cake.
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Re: Graveyard Pass

Postby paul » Thu Feb 12, 2009 7:52 pm

Here's a site with useful info on most Sierra passes:
http://sierrabackpacker.com/Overview.htm
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Re: Graveyard Pass

Postby hawkfeather » Thu Feb 12, 2009 11:23 pm

Giantbrookie,
Your #3 alternative sounds interesting, but I sure wouldn't want to do it in 5 days! (What was your #2, btw?) My reason for debating between Blackcap Basin and this loop that would take in Hortense is that we'll be spending the previous week in Mono Hot Springs. When our 2 kids were young, we used to go up there every summer, and we'd always see these multi-generational families in the campground. Now that our kids are grown up and have families of their own, it seemed a good time to take part in this grand tradition. Our son is the one who fishes the most, and he also lives farther north just above the Sierra foothills off of Highway 4, so he has some pretty good opportunities for fishing up there. Me, I like to eat 'em! But, anyway, on the morning we all pull out, it's a short hop for us to go up and catch the Edison ferry if we settle on Hortense. Blackcap would be an appreciably farther drive on the starting end, but we could still hoof it out at the end and drive home in one day, allowing us a catch-up day at home before we have to return to the regular world. And then there's where we'd really like to go--and haven't been--that would make a nice weeklong trip. So we'll see....
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Re: Graveyard Pass

Postby hawkfeather » Thu Feb 12, 2009 11:30 pm

Hikerduane,
I hope your dream trip turns out great. I think we all try to do as much as we can, as we can.

Paul,
Thank you for the URL. Graveyard Pass doesn't get a listing, but there is one for Warrior Ridge on the possible route between Hortense and Warrior. It actually sounds pretty good. More head scratching....
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Re: no.2?; Hortense vs Blackcap

Postby giantbrookie » Fri Feb 13, 2009 9:01 pm

hawkfeather wrote:Giantbrookie,
Your #3 alternative sounds interesting, but I sure wouldn't want to do it in 5 days! (What was your #2, btw?) My reason for debating between Blackcap Basin and this loop that would take in Hortense is that we'll be spending the previous week in Mono Hot Springs. When our 2 kids were young, we used to go up there every summer, and we'd always see these multi-generational families in the campground. Now that our kids are grown up and have families of their own, it seemed a good time to take part in this grand tradition. Me, I like to eat 'em! But, anyway, on the morning we all pull out, it's a short hop for us to go up and catch the Edison ferry if we settle on Hortense. Blackcap would be an appreciably farther drive on the starting end, but we could still hoof it out at the end and drive home in one day, allowing us a catch-up day at home before we have to return to the regular world. And then there's where we'd really like to go--and haven't been--that would make a nice weeklong trip. So we'll see....

The no.2 alternative (as conceived at the time--I've since modified this one) was to start at Bear Diversion dam, to to Cirque Lake, then Apollo, Orchid, and Three Island, then over the hump to Lower Turret Lake with a side trip to Pinnacles Creek then a long off trail route that briefly catches the JMT but leaves it and eventually works its way around to Chamberlain Lake. This would have been a shuttle with one car at Hooper Diversion and one at Bear. After learning about the semi official trail to Marcella, Cirque et al. I am rethinking this one with the goal of focusing more time in the Lower Turret-Pinnacles Creek area (more time spent in trailless country, the better). That trip was ended up the 2008 runner up also. In 2008 it was aced out by what became the "Tunechuck" epic, but will now rotate to no. 1 in 2010 (no big trip for me allotted in 2009).

As for distances from Mono Hot Springs to the Blackcap vs Peter Pande-Hortense, etc., of course Edison is much closer to Mono Hot Springs, but the kickoff for Blackcap is a hour or so shorter drive out (to the common point in Shaver) that is Edison, so you make up a little of the time difference coming out.
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