Beta request for looping across the Great Western Divide | High Sierra Topix  

Beta request for looping across the Great Western Divide

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!
User avatar

Beta request for looping across the Great Western Divide

Postby markorr » Tue Jun 16, 2009 8:25 am

We’re thinking of doing a 5 day loop across the Great Western Divide next weekend and wanted to get some input on the proposed route, particularly any route-finding tips, known difficulties including high water crossings, climbing possibilities and beta and cool places to camp and photograph. We’re expecting a decent amount of snow for the middle part of the trip and are taking axe and crampons. Here’s our proposed route (taken from Trekking CA by Paul Richins)

Day 1: Road’s End (5035’) to Avalanche Pass (6300) trail, to Sphinx Creek (8500’), leave trail and xc to 3rd Sphinx Lake (10500’)
Day 2: 4,5,6th Sphinx lakes to Sphinx Col (12040’) then Cinder Col 12080), drop to South Guard Lake (11630’) and Cunningham Creek (10800’), ascend S. Fork of Cunningham Cr to tarns (11000’)
Day 3: climb Thunder Ridge (12000’) to cross MacLeod Pass (13040’) south of Thunder Peak (beta?), descend to lake 12240, follow outlet to Lake South America Trail (10800), follow trail to Lake S.A.
Day 4 and 5 trail to Forester Pass and back out via Vidette Meadow and Bubbs Cr. If we’re early/fast (doubtful w/ the expected snow conditions) side trip to East Lake

Thanks
Mark



User avatar
markorr
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 78
Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2007 3:25 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Beta request for looping across the Great Western Divide

Postby cgundersen » Tue Jun 16, 2009 8:39 am

Hi Markorr,
It looks like a great route. I've never done Macleod Pass (Longley just to the north is relatively easy and I've gone over it a couple times, but only by coming up from Reflection), but to me it looks like you then need to go over Thunder Ridge to get out to the Kern Basin. My one time over Thunder Ridge was memorable for the daunting jumble of talus that preceded the climb. Of course, I was coming up from Lake Reflection, and you won't be, so maybe it will be a bit easier. Lastly, I was just out for 10 days on the backside of the Kaweahs and there is still a lot of snow starting at 10,000-10,500 ft. Sometimes it made the going easier. Other times it was an impediment. You should have lots of daylight, and you may need it some days. I'll look forward to a trip report!
CG
User avatar
cgundersen
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 655
Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2006 1:07 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Beta request for looping across the Great Western Divide

Postby markorr » Tue Jun 16, 2009 9:01 am

Thanks CG,
Our other trip idea is to finish what we started last year and access Kaweah Basin via either Pants Pass or more likely Pyra-Queen Col starting from Lodgepole/Bearpaw Mdw/Hamilton Lake/Nine Lake Basin. How was the snow in Kaweah Basin and Red Spur Ledge? Looking forward to your TR and pics

Mark
User avatar
markorr
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 78
Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2007 3:25 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Beta request for looping across the Great Western Divide

Postby cgundersen » Tue Jun 16, 2009 10:38 am

Hi Markorr,
Depending on the exposure, snow was pretty much solid starting in the 10-10.5K band. Of course, there were isolated pockets, particularly with good southern exposure, that were open, but the ice was only beginning to break up on the lowest lake in 9 lakes basin when we left. All but the lowest lakes on the far side of the Kaweahs were frozen. However, the few times the sun did come out, the melt rate was impressive, so I imagine that conditions could be fairly "fluid" vis a vis the snow coat. I've not been over Pyraqueen, but I can say the East side looked pretty nice. I've been a little intimidated looking at the west side of Pyraqueen, so if you go that way, I'll be keen to hear the report. Incidentally, the Kaweah Pass segment over to Chagoopa plateau wound up being harder than I expected, because the rock at the top of the ridge is uncomfortably loose. Still, the scenery is magnificent!
CG
User avatar
cgundersen
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 655
Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2006 1:07 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Beta request for looping across the Great Western Divide

Postby trav867 » Tue Jun 16, 2009 11:57 am

That's a pretty hardcore day 1- I descended from Sphinx Col to Bubbs Creek in one day last August and it was a real pain, going up can't be any easier. It's a definitely bushwacking from the time you leave the Sphinx Creek trail to about 10,00ft. There's a very sketchy trail that mostly stays on the west side of the valley- definitely worth trying to stay on it as the brush is very thick in some spots.
User avatar
trav867
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 166
Joined: Mon Nov 12, 2007 6:12 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Beta request for looping across the Great Western Divide

Postby maverick » Tue Jun 16, 2009 12:02 pm

Queen Pyra from the west is not difficult, and the easiest of the 3 passes into
Kaweah Basin.
None of the passes on your intended route are very difficult, MacLeod is a little
loose on the western side, but with snow it will not be a much of a problem.
An alternate route could be to climb Mt.Brewer via the south ridge from Brewer
Pass, and then descend the east ridge following Ouzel Creek to East Lake, and
head over Harrison Pass to Lake South America.
If you do not want to climb Brewer(great views) than go over Longley Pass which
will have a cornice that needs to be bypassed on its northern side, but otherwise
is a piece of cake.
The whole area is very photogenic, especially Brewer area's western side, and
East & Reflection Lakes area is very pretty.
Getting over Bubbs Creek is very difficult in the early season so getting over
may not be doable.
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8033
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Beta request for looping across the Great Western Divide

Postby markorr » Wed Jun 17, 2009 10:23 am

maverick wrote: Getting over Bubbs Creek is very difficult in the early season so getting over
may not be doable.


Maverick, you mean getting over Bubbs creek to access East and Reflection Lakes, right? If we do this trip next week I'm not banking on getting up there, but it would be the cherry on top if we could access it. I'm guess with the current snow and creek conditions we'll be moving fairly slow.
Thanks for all your input!
User avatar
markorr
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 78
Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2007 3:25 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Beta request for looping across the Great Western Divide

Postby maverick » Wed Jun 17, 2009 11:30 am

I was referring to the part where you mentioned possibly visiting East Lake
on your way down the Bubb's Creek Trail.
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8033
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer


Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], Sierra00 and 12 guests