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Gorge of Despair?

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Gorge of Despair?

Postby Shawn » Thu Nov 12, 2009 12:25 pm

Anyone ever been into the Gorge of Despair?

I had been looking at Mount Harrington as a trip for next summer and my eyes keep taking me into the Gorge when I look at the map. I've looked around the web for info, most details and TR's are about the technical climbing and so forth.

Mostly, I wonder how far down the Gorge one could safely travel before it becomes impassable? Certainly someone must have descended the entire thing, even if a technical jaunt.

These danged wintertime day dreams.......



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Re: Gorge of Despair?

Postby BSquared » Thu Nov 12, 2009 12:50 pm

Funny you should mention that, Shawn: it was my first backpacking trip, way back in the 20th century :p

I was in college, and my roommate and a friend of his wanted to do some serious rock climbing in the towers on the Silver Spur; not much of a climber, I came along for the hike. It was a loooong time ago, and we didn't try exploring to see how far down the gorge one could get, but I recall that it was a beautiful place! Unfortunately, I learned about altitude sickness on the way in: we tried to do it in one quick day, but I literally sat down in the trail and refused to budge somewhere above Granite Lakes (I think that's the name? EDIT: No, it was Grizzly Lakes; thanks for the Map, TT!). Kind of funny in retrospect, but they were first pissed and then sympathetic, so they tried to give me the best of the (at that time new and expensive) freeze-dried dinner, which of course I couldn't eat. Ah, well.

Every time I go to Kings Canyon (i.e., every five years or so :\ ), I look longingly up at the ridges above the Gorge from the Kings River overlook:
GorgeView.jpg
The silver-colored turrets along the highest ridge visible on the south side of the Kings are above the Gorge.


I know I read that some damn fools climbed either up or down from/to the Tehipite Valley to/from the "end" of the gorge, and as I recall it involved waterfalls and maybe even wetsuits. I think I read this in Secor, but I don't have it here with me to check.

A good friend of mine here in Vermont used to go to The Gorge with her family periodically as she was growing up in Monterey, and her father's ashes were scattered there a few years ago, I believe.
Last edited by BSquared on Thu Nov 12, 2009 2:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Gorge of Despair?

Postby TehipiteTom » Thu Nov 12, 2009 1:27 pm

Judging from the map, it looks like it gets very hairy below about 7,200'. That still leaves a fair amount of territory to explore.

I've been over Harrington Pass once, and got this shot looking down towards the Gorge:

Image
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Re: Gorge of Despair?

Postby Shawn » Thu Nov 12, 2009 6:55 pm

Hey guys -

Thanks for the kind replies...especially the photos.

Funny how there are so many places to explore in the Sierra and this one just kind of stuck in my head.

A guy at work told me about his trip thru Tehipite Valley early last summer and it got me thinking about Harrington...well you know how it goes.

To think about all those times I've driven right by the Kings River overlook and never stopped to take in the view. Looks as though I'll trudge up and over the pass, into the Gorge for a day or two of exploring, then back out the same way.

If only it were July again....sigh.
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Re: Gorge of Despair?

Postby BSquared » Thu Nov 12, 2009 8:02 pm

Keep us posted, Shawn!
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Re: Gorge of Despair?

Postby TehipiteTom » Fri Nov 13, 2009 9:45 am

Shawn wrote:To think about all those times I've driven right by the Kings River overlook and never stopped to take in the view. Looks as though I'll trudge up and over the pass, into the Gorge for a day or two of exploring, then back out the same way.

Well worth spending a few days up there--the lakes east of the Gorge are gorgeous, and get very little traffic. That trip over Harrington Pass, I did a semiloop, heading lake-to-lake east to Kennedy Pass and back out.

Westernmost Swamp Lake:
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Re: Gorge of Despair?

Postby AldeFarte » Fri Nov 13, 2009 11:51 pm

Never been to the Gorge, however We did that Grizzly, Swamp lakes to the Kennedy's and Volcanic lakes trip years ago . Never knew that was "Harrington pass" Just looked like a nice place to cross on the topo. I regret not visiting the lake at the head of the gorge, but time constraints, schedual , etc ruled it out. The fishing was a bust for us till we hit Volcanic. Very disappointing at the time, but BEAUTIFUL country. I call it the backwater of the sierra's. Always wondered about that lake, especially since we hit every other lake along that ridge. A great trip.
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Re: Gorge of Despair?

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Mon Jan 18, 2010 4:32 pm

I have been up there a few times, mainly over the Hogsback Peak pass, primarily early season. I like the Deer Cove TH: no permits, sign the ledger and go. Saw fresh bear tracks in the snow on the pass: guess he/she needed a change of scenery. Nice views there. Fair easy x-c.

The picture "Westernmost Swamp Lake" I supposed to mean "not counting the lake at the head of of the Gorge of Despair", seeing how the lake pictured is the next large lake just to the east of the lake at the head of the Gorge of Despair. Nice lake.
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Re: Gorge of Despair?

Postby BSquared » Mon Jan 18, 2010 6:43 pm

Tehipite Tom, I hadn't looked carefully at your photo before, and it's really cool to see the tippity top of Tehipite Dome just barely peeking up at the bottom of the vee of the Gorge. Nice shot!
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Re: Gorge of Despair?

Postby maverick » Mon Jan 18, 2010 7:13 pm

Hi Shawn

I have been in the area via Grizzly Lakes (watched a nice big bear near the lakes
in the meadow)and Harrington Pass.
Swamp Lakes are pretty as is the Slide Lakes area, and the small cluster
of lakes northeast of Hogback Peak, can not go wrong with either area.
I followed Slide Creek quite a ways down before jumping over the shoulder into
Kennedy Canyon.
I too have read about a group descending in wet suits.
It steepens gradually until 7500 ft where it is now at a 45 degrees, and then the angle of
descent grows ever rapidly until 6500 ft.
I would be interested to climb up the ridge of the Silver Spur, and get a shot of the
Dome from this unique angle at sunset, which would glow till 9:30 pm in the summer.
With the right conditions(light) this could be a great shot!
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Re: Gorge of Despair?

Postby TehipiteTom » Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:13 am

Bsquared, thanks!

Maverick, I'd like to get up to those lakes NE of Hogback--they look very intriguing to me.

DoyleWDonehoo wrote:I have been up there a few times, mainly over the Hogsback Peak pass, primarily early season. I like the Deer Cove TH: no permits, sign the ledger and go. Saw fresh bear tracks in the snow on the pass: guess he/she needed a change of scenery. Nice views there. Fair easy x-c.

The picture "Westernmost Swamp Lake" I supposed to mean "not counting the lake at the head of of the Gorge of Despair", seeing how the lake pictured is the next large lake just to the east of the lake at the head of the Gorge of Despair. Nice lake.

Well, yeah...I've never thought of that Gorge of Despair lake as one of the Swamp Lakes (on the topo it looks like the name applies only to the lakes east of the Gorge of Despair).
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Re: Gorge of Despair?

Postby Shawn » Tue Jan 19, 2010 9:37 pm

Mav (and others)- Thanks for the info.

The more I look at the area (via Google maps, etc.) the more it intrigues me. Initially I thought about simply hiking to Grizzly Lakes, then ascending Mt. Harrington and perhaps spending one full day exploring the "Gorge" then returning the via the same route.

Now the more I look I'm tempted to nix the Mt. Harrington ascent and just spend time exploring the areas near the lakes and an extra day on in the Gorge (and then again returning via the same route taken to get in).
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