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Ultimate Sierra Trip?

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Re: Ultimate Sierra Trip?

Postby cgundersen » Mon May 25, 2009 1:48 pm

Maverick/Mike,
So, Mav, is Edith at the top of your "ultimate" list? I've not been anywhere close to Edith, but that's because my wife and I have been slowly working our way north in the Sierras (living in LA, I'd rather start hiking than drive all day), but with the kudos I've heard from you and Giantbrookie, it looks and sounds like a must do. Someday.
Second, the trip Mike took in 1980 sounds incredible. My first time ever in the Ionian basin was that summer, too, and though I don't have the dates handy right now, I'm guessing I was about a week behind Mike in the basin itself (and, lake 10212). I'm a big fan of that area!
Third, with the backside of the Kaweahs only about a week away, I'm heading in there with high expectations. My wife was pleasantly relieved to find a trip report on the internet by some lads who left Whitney portal early one morning, camped shy of Pants Pass the first night and jammed over it and out to Crescent meadow the next day. I've been on planes that move slower than that.
Fourth, Blue Canyon/Tunemah Peak are high on my list, but probably not till next year.

What's the Summer got in store for you?
CG



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Re: Ultimate Sierra Trip?

Postby TehipiteTom » Wed May 27, 2009 9:37 am

cgundersen wrote:Maverick/Mike,
So, Mav, is Edith at the top of your "ultimate" list? I've not been anywhere close to Edith, but that's because my wife and I have been slowly working our way north in the Sierras (living in LA, I'd rather start hiking than drive all day), but with the kudos I've heard from you and Giantbrookie, it looks and sounds like a must do. Someday.

I'll add my voice to the pro-Edyth Lake faction. Here's a pic--judge for yourself:
Image
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Re: Ultimate Sierra Trip?

Postby maverick » Wed May 27, 2009 11:55 am

Hi CG

Ultimate, no.
The rough terrain in the area is one of the most nastiest in the Sierra, which is
why it is considered a classic bushwacking trip, and a real test of ones will and
experience.
On the other hand the chain of lakes on the western side of Kendrick Creek are
real gems.
To be honest the big granite is missing from the scenery in this area which is
what I prefer.
Kibbie Lake can be had with much less trouble, and it also is a good access point
to Bartlett Lakes, which are one of my favorite lake basin's in this area.
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Re: Ultimate Sierra Trip?

Postby Mike M. » Wed May 27, 2009 1:46 pm

CG:

I was in the Kaweahs last year and really enjoyed it. Moving much slower than I did in 1980, we did a shuttle trip, beginning at the Horseshoe Meadow trailhead, over New Army Pass, then into Miter Basin and over Crabtree Pass, down to Crabtree Lakes and Crabtree Meadow, then to Wallace Creek, down into the Kern Canyon, then up Milestone Creek to just beyond Rockslide Lake, where we left the trail again and headed up to "Picket Guard" Lake. From there, we made our way into the Kaweah Basin, camping at one of the lower lakes and exploring the upper basin on a dayhike. We then backtracked, and headed for Colby Pass, completing our semi loop via Longley Pass, Lake Reflection, and exiting at Kearsarge Pass. Picket Guard Lake was especially memorable. It is a beautiful place, with a nice level campsite. The water was just right for swimming. The lake is unusual in that both the inlet and the outlet are at one end of the lake, not more than 40 feet apart.

One of my favorite routes into the Kaweah area is via Triple Divide Pass. I prefer the upper basin just below Triple Divide Pass to the basin below Kaweah Pass. If you are adventurous, you can do a nice loop back into the Nine Lakes Basin via Pants Pass, but the route finding can be difficult for the uninitiated. Pants Pass is right at my comfort limit -- you work your way up a safe chute and then onto some (for me) steep but firm rock just before the top of the pass. The other side is a steep scree slope down to the lakes -- easy "skiing" in good boots.

This year, in late August, we're doing a 14 day loop from North Lake, going in at Lamarck Col. We'll work our way down Darwin Basin to the Muir trail, then cut over to Davis Lakes Basin, around to Martha Lake, then up and into the Ionian Basin. We'll scramble up Goddard, then exit the basin at Black Giant Pass, work our way down to the Muir Trail and then up to Palisades Basin, then over Cirque Pass, Potluck Pass, Thunderbolt Pass, and out via Bishop Pass. I will have my 16 year old son with me, along with his friend and another adult friend, who is eager to try a little climbing in the storied Sierras (he's used to the Cascades). I can't wait!

Mike \:D/
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Re: Ultimate Sierra Trip?

Postby giantbrookie » Wed May 27, 2009 3:07 pm

Wow, all those Edith posts and that photo sure bring back memories. Yes the brush is fierce. I did in fact encounter the worst brush I've ever battled while forcing the north side of Kendrick Creek to Edith in 1986. I also remember choking from the both pollen and simply pieces of leaves getting into my throat. There was one theatrical descent spot where I got stuck on top of a ten foot cliff and got off by this tarzan move, using some long supple branches to swing off, over, and down. On the other hand, going in from the south side is much mellower, although still an adventure. The upside is something else though: the gemlike deep blue lakes on the bench downstream of the lake, the lake itself with Nance Peak towering over it and the wonderful cascade inlet, and then the awesome waterfall upstream of that, and the fish aren't too bad, either. Edith was also the first really exploratory backpack I took with my wife and it opened the door for all of our epics that followed.
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: Ultimate Sierra Trip?

Postby maverick » Wed May 27, 2009 4:09 pm

Hi Mike M.

Yes, Picket Lake is a beautiful little lake/watering hole with the perfect campsite
under the trees on the western side of it with great views of the Whitney region to
the east, wish I was there right now.
I personally prefer the area under Pyra Queen/Kaweah Pass region since the ridge
turns blood red and orange at sunrise, which makes for some great photo's of its
reflections in the small ponds at the foot of the ridge!
Also the view of the ridge containing Mt.Kaweah, Queen Kaweah, Black, and
Queen Kaweah is extremely impressive, I can easily sit for a hour looking at all the
features of the rock.
In the moonlight it turns eerie and takes on a completely different look, which is
just impressive!
Then there is Red Spur Lakes Basin, which has a lake, and views to die for.
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Re: Ultimate Sierra Trip?

Postby cgundersen » Wed May 27, 2009 4:31 pm

Hi All,
OK, the photo from Tehipite Tom seals the deal. I may not want to drag my wife through the brush, but from all the fond memories of pollen, leaves, brambles and king-of-the-jungle routines, it sounds like a good place to test one's mettle.

Mike, I'm with you on being fond of Triple Divide Pass. It's our back-up route if Pants Pass looks too ugly (I'm pretty sure it won't, but ya never know). My wife & I camped at that little pond at the very apex of Cloud Canyon a few years ago (just before going over TD Pass) and were treated to some of the noisiest pica I've run across. From your comments on Picket Guard Lake, we may try to swing down there. Our tentative plan was to stay in the higher reaches of the basins on the north side of the Kaweahs, but we'll see how things look when we get back there (I just noticed that Maverick posted as I was writing this, and it sounds like we'll do fine either way). Your planned trip this summer almost perfectly follows the route I did back in 1980 (but, in reverse). Ionian basin is still pretty well undisturbed; the only part where I think you'll really hit a wall is climbing up to the Barrett Lakes. My mental note the two times I went down that thing was better down than up. Good luck!
CG
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Re: Ultimate Sierra Trip?

Postby Mike M. » Wed May 27, 2009 4:33 pm

Maverick:

The Red Spur Lakes Basin is an area I have often thought of visiting but have somehow missed because it's so far off the beaten path.

There's a nice camping spot on the east side of Milestone Pass, high up between Midway and Milestone, that offers the kind of vistas I imagine you would get from the Red Spur Basin. Awesome views of the Whitney group -- and a great front porch for watching afternoon thunderstorms.

Mike
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Re: Ultimate Sierra Trip?

Postby Mike M. » Wed May 27, 2009 4:59 pm

CG:

My journal notes from a 1986 swing through the Palisades area, going north to south from Thunderbolt Pass, say that Potluck "was harder than I remembered" and that I had to "do some acrobatic moves." There is a ramp just to the right of the summit of the pass that offers an easy way down, and I must have missed that.

I solo climbed Mt. Sill the next day, going up a chute on the face of Sill (directly opposite the Palemonium Glacier), which was much steeper than I found comfortable, with icy patches. Fortunately, going down was easier and safer than I expected and I was a mighty happy camper, glad to have climbed one of the nicest peaks in the Sierra.

The next day, I made my way up and over Cirque Pass. The ledges and cliffs were "arduous," but I was in camp above Upper Palisades Lake (where the stream from the basin below Southfork Pass intersects the JMT) in three hours.

I'm hoping the route finding going up will eliminate any need for Class 3 moves. Plus, we'll have light packs at that point and will (hopefully) be trail hardened as well.

Mike
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Re: Ultimate Sierra Trip?

Postby maverick » Wed May 27, 2009 5:02 pm

Hi CG

You can avoid the bad stuff by staying on the ridge to the east starting above
Laurel Lake all the way to the two cool lakes west of Richardson Peak, and
descend near the outlet creek down to Edith Lake.
This way you do not have to put your wife thru the torment of the bush down it
the canyon, though this is the lure of the place.

Mike M.
The Milestone Pass view is also very beautiful, but hiking out to the edge of Kern
Canyon at Red Spur Basin is quite a view.
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Re: Ultimate Sierra Trip?

Postby cgundersen » Thu May 28, 2009 9:45 am

Hi Mike & Maverick,
Frankly, Thunderbolt has always taken me longer than I expected it to take (there just never seems to be an obvious path through the talus on the Dusy side), but on my one time over Potluck, I did get it right and hit the granite ramp down. However, when I looked back at Potluck, my reaction was that it could definitely be a challenge if one missed the ramp, turning it into hardluck pass. Incidentally, have you ever gone over Southfork pass? I've been close on both sides, but have never done the whole thing (but, my feeling was that the rock jumble on the Big Pine side did not make for a nice entry, if one had a heavy load).
As for a low-pain entry to Edith, I'll log the notes for future reference. Thanks! And, just out of curiosity, have you accessed the Red Spur area from the Kaweah plateau, or from below? I'm thinking that we'll just stay on the plateau, given the eloquent praise, but if we get a hankering to explore further, can we get over high, or do we need to swing low?
Thanks,
CG
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Re: Ultimate Sierra Trip?

Postby TehipiteTom » Thu May 28, 2009 12:33 pm

maverick wrote:Hi CG

You can avoid the bad stuff by staying on the ridge to the east starting above
Laurel Lake all the way to the two cool lakes west of Richardson Peak, and
descend near the outlet creek down to Edith Lake.
This way you do not have to put your wife thru the torment of the bush down it
the canyon, though this is the lure of the place.

My buddy and I left Edyth by heading southwest up to the obvious saddle and into the Frog Creek drainage; that would be yet another relatively brush-free way in. We continued up to Moraine Ridge from Lake 7385, and caught the trail there...but heading in, I bet you could head up the Frog Creek drainage and get to the saddle over to Edyth more directly.
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