High Sierra Trail, Kaweah Gap Conditions / Experience | High Sierra Topix  

High Sierra Trail, Kaweah Gap Conditions / Experience

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

High Sierra Trail, Kaweah Gap Conditions / Experience

Postby aufsess » Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:31 am

Hello HST,

I am going to start the High Sierra Trail this Saturday 6/27 and currently have no plans to bring a lot of winter mountaineering equipment (one ice axe for the "guide") -- there are seven of us and a couple are High Sierra virgins and most without a lot of early season experience. Any more recent current updates or experiences climbing the Kaweah gap? I know it has warmed up a lot since the last HST trail report, but the High Sierra Trail conditions recorded by the Wilderness Office Staff mention that winter mountaineering skills and equipment are recommended as of 6/21. Can anyone give me a better idea of what kind of skills and conditions I should prepare for at this time of year? Mostly I have heard from other sierra veterans that I shouldn't be concerned at this time of year (with the warming weather).

Also, I've heard that is a bit of a hazardous snow crossing in the deepest gorge, by the tunnel. Is this likely to still be present and has anyone ever set up an impromptu rope that beginners could hold onto / tie into? Also, it seems that the final climb over the gap from Precipice lake is covered in snow, but on the other hand it doesn't seem to have any exposure. I assume that a group of large men can create the boot tracks necessary for less experience hikers to travel safely and comfortably. Is it advisable to climb the gap late in the day so that the snow is maximally soft?

Finally, how does one say Kaweah?

Thanks for any advice or comments!

Alex



User avatar
aufsess
Topix Novice
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:16 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: High Sierra Trail, Kaweah Gap Conditions / Experience

Postby ERIC » Mon Jun 22, 2009 10:10 am

aufsess wrote:Finally, how does one say Kaweah?


Pronounced Kaw-wee'-ah, with both a's pronounced like the a in "awe"
New members, please consider giving us an intro!
Follow us on Twitter @HighSierraTopix. Use hashtags #SIERRAPHILE #GotSierra? #GotMountains?
Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HighSierraTopix
User avatar
ERIC
Your Humble Host & Forums Administrator
Your Humble Host & Forums Administrator
 
Posts: 2909
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 9:13 am
Location: between the 916 and 661
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: High Sierra Trail, Kaweah Gap Conditions / Experience

Postby copeg » Mon Jun 22, 2009 12:23 pm

Perhaps cgundersen can chime in as he was just there last week, but in the meantime if you haven't yet check out the trip report from that area last week. Having been through that area there isn't much exposure and travel across the show shouldn't be too much of a hassle, depending upon what time if day it is (usually hard and can be icy in the morning, to postholing in the late afternoon). Something you should keep in mind is creek crossing along the Kern River, Whitney and Wallace creeks in particular. Last I was there a few years ago they weren't too much of a pain but this time of year be prepared for raging creeks, try and time crossings earlier in the day
User avatar
copeg
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
 
Posts: 1968
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 9:25 pm
Location: Menlo Park, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: High Sierra Trail, Kaweah Gap Conditions / Experience

Postby maverick » Mon Jun 22, 2009 1:04 pm

Check out CG's trip report as Copeg recommends.
Picture #3 has a shot of the Kaweah Gap from the east, and picture #1 has a pic
of the Hamilton lakes area.
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8034
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: High Sierra Trail, Kaweah Gap Conditions / Experience

Postby aufsess » Mon Jun 22, 2009 2:13 pm

Speaking of difficult creek crossings... is there no longer a bridge over the Kern River?

Is there a protocol for crossing difficult streams? I've heard of people putting up safety ropes --- we were thinking of using a piece of webbing to set up a safety line (to grab onto -- not tie too) to help people cross the stream. One hand on the webbing, one hand with a walking pole.
User avatar
aufsess
Topix Novice
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:16 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: High Sierra Trail, Kaweah Gap Conditions / Experience

Postby Mike M. » Mon Jun 22, 2009 4:11 pm

Aufsess, regarding crossing streams in high water: look for an area where the stream has spread out (as opposed to one in a narrow channel). Wear your boots (I remove my socks). As a rule of thumb, if you believe the creek is so swift and high that you might need to resort to ropes, etc, then you should find another place to cross. It won't hurt you to get wet walking in gently flowing chest high water, but a raging stream that deep is unsafe.

As an aside, one of the PCT through hikers blogged about his hike throuh Evolution Valley a week or so ago and made no mention at all of the stream crossing in the lower valley, which is notorious for high water this time of year.

Mike
User avatar
Mike M.
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 475
Joined: Fri May 25, 2007 10:50 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: High Sierra Trail, Kaweah Gap Conditions / Experience

Postby copeg » Mon Jun 22, 2009 5:07 pm

aufsess wrote:Speaking of difficult creek crossings... is there no longer a bridge over the Kern River?


I was there in 2005 and there was a bridge. No idea about its current status.
Agree with Mike that if you might think you need a rope, try and find another location to cross. Early morning crossings are usually better as the creeks aren't as swollen from the days melt (I've seen creeks lower/rise over a foot between 8am and 4pm). Many times you can find fallen logs to aid in crossing (be careful if they are wet), or a flattened out area or an area where the creek splits up into several creaklets that are easier than the large.
User avatar
copeg
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
 
Posts: 1968
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 9:25 pm
Location: Menlo Park, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: High Sierra Trail, Kaweah Gap Conditions / Experience

Postby aufsess » Mon Jul 06, 2009 12:03 pm

Just finished this trip. Saturday afternoon to Sunday morning. Easy pace. Not much to report or worry about, except that it was great. Snow is mostly gone from all part of the trail west of Whitney. Kaweah pass has snow, but little of it is on the trail. Creek and River crossings are easy enough or bridges present. Most people didn't get their boots wet or take them off, though it's probably a better idea in a couple places. Water was flowing fast, but never treacherously. Little bits of rain. Most alarming part was climbing up and down Whitney and crossing over icy snow banks. It was a little more exposure than I would have liked to expose to beginners, but it wasn't very bad. Skeeters in Wallace Creek were really bad. Hardly saw a soul between Hamilton Lakes and Guitar Lake. We did see a group of Kayakers coming in to do the Kern. They have trekked 70lbs kayaks over Shepherd's Pass! The River was practically constant rapids.

Enjoy.

Alex
User avatar
aufsess
Topix Novice
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:16 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: High Sierra Trail, Kaweah Gap Conditions / Experience

Postby copeg » Mon Jul 06, 2009 12:59 pm

Thanks for sharing the info Alex!
aufsess wrote:We did see a group of Kayakers coming in to do the Kern. They have trekked 70lbs kayaks over Shepherd's Pass! The River was practically constant rapids.

From a few years ago, but there are kayakers that do that sort of thing...a bit psychotic if you ask me :eek: But hey, there are those that say some of the things I do are psychotic, so I guess its all relative. ;)
http://www.highsierratopix.com/community/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=4024
User avatar
copeg
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
 
Posts: 1968
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 9:25 pm
Location: Menlo Park, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: High Sierra Trail, Kaweah Gap Conditions / Experience

Postby cgundersen » Mon Jul 06, 2009 3:34 pm

Hi Alex,
Even if everything is relative, on my absolute scale, carrying kayaks over Shepherd Pass qualifies as mildly insane. OK, the adrenaline rush of riding the headwaters of the Kern has to be pretty heady, but Shepherds is not your average stroll in the park (masochism comes to mind). Plus, imagine the poor labdlubbers watching the kayaks fly past. I'd conclude that I was hallucinating.

Beyond that, if you or folks in your group took photos, please don't be shy about posting a few. I'd love to see how 9 Lakes basin and the Big Arroyo opened up since early June!
Thanks,
CG
User avatar
cgundersen
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 655
Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2006 1:07 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: High Sierra Trail, Kaweah Gap Conditions / Experience

Postby aufsess » Wed Jul 08, 2009 12:31 pm

Here are some photos of the Kaweah Gap, Nine Lake Basin, Big Arroyo from early last week. I've also included photos of some of the snow conditions on Whitney that we encountered on the 4th. The cables also had a marginal melted area where one could just barely walk on stones.

http://picasaweb.google.com/alexander.robinson/Sierras#5356171288211217602
User avatar
aufsess
Topix Novice
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:16 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: High Sierra Trail, Kaweah Gap Conditions / Experience

Postby cgundersen » Wed Jul 08, 2009 1:01 pm

Hi Alex,
Looks to me like you guys threaded the needle pretty well; a bit of weather, not too many bugs, and nothing like the 10 days with precipitation that we got earlier in June. Thanks for the pics!
Cg
User avatar
cgundersen
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 655
Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2006 1:07 pm
Experience: N/A

Next

Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

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