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shortcut to Lake South America

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shortcut to Lake South America

Postby markorr » Fri Jul 03, 2009 12:31 pm

Coming south from Forester Pass, what's the easiest/quickest way to get over to Lake South America. The three options I see are
1 - to angle SW just below the pass and follow the creek drainage
2 - continue down the JMT then head due west over the low pass (name?)
3 - take JMT to L South America trail

also, which is preferable to getting from Potluck Pass to Palisades Lake, Chimney Pass or Cirque Pass. It looks like the former is higher, but easier. We're doing an 8 day, mostly JMT trip from South Lake to Whitney Portal leaving on the 13th. Tentative plans are
day 1 Dusy Basin or lake beyond Thunderbolt Pass
day 2 Palisade lakes - unless there's a good off trail recommendation nearby
day 3 Bench Lake
day 4 Rae Lakes basin, possibly Dragon Lake
day 5 Center Basin?
day 6 Lake South America
day 7 Guitar Lake
day 8 Ramada Inn

priorities are scenery, photography, lack of people, so if anyone has other suggestions for camps, side trips or scrambles I'd appreciate it
Last edited by markorr on Fri Jul 03, 2009 7:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Re: shortcut to Lake South America

Postby maverick » Fri Jul 03, 2009 1:04 pm

Chimney Pass, easiest straight forward of the passes.
JMT to South America trail, or go over the shoulder of the ridge that is left
from Caltech Peak to cut off about 3 miles of trail.
Lake below Thunderbolt Pass in Dusy is one of the best in the basin, the Barrett
area is not the most appealing place to me.
http://maverick.zenfolio.com/img/v0/p1063427744-5.jpg
Last edited by maverick on Fri Jul 03, 2009 6:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: shortcut to Lake South America

Postby quentinc » Fri Jul 03, 2009 2:21 pm

Definitely follow Maverick's suggestion of cutting west over the ridge below Cal Tech. It's pretty easy and the part of the Lake S. America trail you'll be skipping is eminently skippable. As for side trips, the area to the west of Lake SA is wonderful to explore -- the headwaters of the Kern (or south fork of the Kings or some river -- sorry, I can never keep them straight) ;)
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Re: shortcut to Lake South America

Postby paul » Fri Jul 03, 2009 10:40 pm

When you're coming fom Lake SA on your way to Guitar, stop for lunch or a nice break at the BIghorn Plateau. There's a little lake there just to the right of the trail, very shallow and nice for wading, then you walk a few hundred yards west of the trail to the top of what seems to be a nondescript gentle rise, and from there you have a magnificent 360 degree view.
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Re: shortcut to Lake South America

Postby markorr » Sat Jul 04, 2009 7:59 am

Thanks!
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Re: shortcut to Lake South America

Postby cgundersen » Sun Jul 05, 2009 12:55 pm

Hi Markorr,
Frankly, I was hoping that someone would chime in to say that they had done the ridge north of Caltech Peak as a "quickie" route between the Forester basin and LSA. I confess that the last time I was through that area, I was looking at that ridge wondering whether it was within my "reach" with a pack. Frankly, it looked pretty formidable (I was heading south from Harrison Pass), but often one can find a way when one gets up close. On the topos, it looks like there may a route either at the very North end, or (going E to W) by traversing a bit south from the ridge before heading down to the lake. If one could do it, it certainly would be a shortcut!

On the other hand, I have traversed that wide open plateau on the southern flank of Caltech (that Maverick mentioned) and the thing I'll always remember is that there are remains of monster trees up there. I cannot fathom what trees were doing up there in the first place (or what happened to them subsequently; they certainly did not look burnt; my guess is that it just got too hot/dry), but it's pretty dramatic given that the tree line is currently well below that elevation. For that reason alone, that route is worth the walk...
CG
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Re: shortcut to Lake South America

Postby quentinc » Sun Jul 05, 2009 3:16 pm

Well, maybe that cutting over that ridge wasn't so easy then, but if I did it I'm sure you could CG. I came at it from south of Forester, and probably took the southerly of the two routes you've spotted.

It's funny how everything seems easy in retrospect. For instance, I keep reading in amazement about how hard Potluck Pass is, and I don't remember any problems at all. In actuality, I was probably was scraping my way down with white knuckles at the time. There are only two passes that live on to haunt me in memory. Millie's Foot, and, through sheer stupidity, Hopkins Pass. Having barely survived my descent of the cliff under Hopkins Pass, it was particularly embarrassing to discover that there's a virtual sidewalk down if one heads to the west.
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Re: shortcut to Lake South America

Postby cgundersen » Mon Jul 06, 2009 7:33 am

Hi Quentin,
I may have misunderstood your original post, but have you gone over that ridge north of Caltech Peak? If you have, and took photos, I'd be keen to see them! Or, a good verbal description would suffice.
As for Potluck, I think I've been lucky over that hump, but when I've looked back from the south, it's clear that if you don't get it right (especially, hitting the long sloping ramp about midway down), it could be a real bear. Obviously, you found the wrong route on Hopkins, but I agree, that there is no way to get Milly's right. I can still hear the sound of my boots slipping on the gravel; the only comfort is that I was going up, and I knew that I'd never consciously do it again (not that Lucy's is much better, but Harrison & Thunder are).
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Re: shortcut to Lake South America

Postby markorr » Mon Jul 06, 2009 8:32 am

So what's the correct way to hit Potluck?
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Re: shortcut to Lake South America

Postby maverick » Mon Jul 06, 2009 3:08 pm

The northern side ascent is easy, the descent can be tricky if you go off the
correct route.
Walk down the ramp heading towards the southwest from the pass, when the ramp
disappears you'll scramble down some shelves that interconnect leading in the
same general direction, from there follow the scree down to the more level terrain
below, and towards Lake 11676 northern side so you can go up towards Chimney Pass.
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Re: shortcut to Lake South America

Postby quentinc » Mon Jul 06, 2009 6:41 pm

I have a guidebook that says to stay to the right while descending those shelves, for what that's worth.

CG -- sorry, no I was thinking of crossing the ridge south of Cal Tech.
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Re: shortcut to Lake South America

Postby cgundersen » Sun Jul 12, 2009 2:49 pm

Hi Markorr,
From the latest webcam images, you should be hitting nice weather; I'll look forward to a trip report!
My other purpose in this note is that I found a likely explanation for those amazing tree remnants on the traverse between Lake SA and the JMT. In a webpage by Tom Killion, he alludes to foxtail pines and the propensity of past forests of these trees to leave remains scattered in unexpected high elevation locales in the Sierras. Here's the bit I copied from Tom's webpage:

Foxtails are cousins of the better-known bristlecones, the oldest living trees, which inhabit the White Mountains just a score or so miles due east of the Kaweah range. Some foxtails are estimated to live up to 2,500 years, and core samples from fallen logs have been dated to over 4,000 years ago. Unlike bristlecones, the foxtails form real high altitude forests on the plateaus of the Southern Sierra above 9,000 feet, while "ghost forests" of long-dead foxtails, dating from warmer eras in the distant past, cling to rock slopes and ridges in places up to almost 12,000 feet. With their huge trunks, worn by centuries of wind-driven ice to a glowing golden color, the foxtails are by far the largest and most impressive living things in their high altitude environment.

CG

I thought it was a pretty informative and eloquent passage...
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