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Onion Valley to Whitney Portal June 28-Whenever Conditions?

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Onion Valley to Whitney Portal June 28-Whenever Conditions?

Postby rnevius » Fri Jun 18, 2010 12:44 pm

I was wondering if anyone has been over in this direction lately. Last year I went all over the John Muir Wilderness in June without crampons just fine in the snow, but I know there is a lot more this year. Think it'll be ok? I'm extremely experienced, young, etc...all I'm really curious about is if conditions will be "passable". Creek info would be nice too (I know they are HUGE). Starting date would be around the 28th, and I'm also considering Shepherd's Pass and just hanging out around lake South America area as well depending on conditions of Forrester and Kearsarge. Basically: Snow and Runoff report. Thanks in advance!



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Re: Onion Valley to Whitney Portal June 28-Whenever Conditions?

Postby rnevius » Tue Jun 22, 2010 12:42 pm

One shameless bump as the date comes closer. I am mostly concerned with the state of Forrester Pass (or what it will be in a week). Anyone been up there lately?
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Re: Onion Valley to Whitney Portal June 28-Whenever Conditions?

Postby ERIC » Tue Jun 22, 2010 1:24 pm

Hope this helps: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=3791
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Re: Onion Valley to Whitney Portal June 28-Whenever Conditions?

Postby maverick » Tue Jun 22, 2010 3:11 pm

Here is a trail conditions report by a pct hiker posted today which should give you a
little insight on the current conditions.
http://www.pcta.org/planning/during_tri ... asp?sect=H
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Re: Onion Valley to Whitney Portal June 28-Whenever Conditions?

Postby rnevius » Tue Jun 22, 2010 5:45 pm

Sounds perfect (well, fun anyways)! Thanks a bunch. Any other info out there?
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Re: Onion Valley to Whitney Portal June 28-Whenever Conditions?

Postby SPeacock » Wed Jun 23, 2010 6:23 pm

Here is Forester Pass specific..
http://www.pcta.org/planning/during_tri ... asp?sect=G
Subtract about a month's worth of snow from that PCTA report and it will still be an adventure. You might consider Junction Pass out of the Basin. The abandoned route is hard to follow even without snow :)

Crampons might help you stay upright and keep you from falling on your kiester.
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Re: Onion Valley to Whitney Portal June 28-Whenever Conditions?

Postby rnevius » Thu Jun 24, 2010 9:29 am

It seems that your link is broken...
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Re: Onion Valley to Whitney Portal June 28-Whenever Conditions?

Postby SPeacock » Sun Jun 27, 2010 4:43 pm

This dated 6/1

From KM to Horseshoe Meadows: (We left KM on May 10th, so keep this in mind): Lots of water in the creeks, so no worries, there. Strange walking through so much burned area. No swallows, yet, at the Monache Bridge. Snow level is around 10,000 where you'll find snow across the trail in streaks 1 to 5 feet tall on south sides and solidly on east, west, and north sides all the way to Cottonwood Pass. Virtually no blow-down. >From Horseshoe to Kearsarge: Snow was solid on all aspects of the mountains from Chicken Spring Lake on. Siberian Outpost was a long forested walk which we short-cut by going straight through the meadow over the snow. Recent snow storms had deposited a small layer of snow that, by the time we were there, had gone through a melt-freeze cycle already, was just a thin and frozen layer on the surface, and whenever the wind came up as we snowshoed across the afternoon snow (frequent post-holes), the ice layers would fly up in broken plates like large confetti looking like whole herds of white birds dancing about three feet above the snow. Rock Creek was an easy log-crossing. (All creeks were low because of cold nighttime temps in the range of zero to twenty-eight degrees. Sun was hot during the day, while the wind was really cold. Whenever you stop, be ready to layer up.) Crabtree Meadow was also all snow with open creeks that had snow-cliffs ranging from three to five feet tall. Some intact snow bridges. Nasty descent into it, though, with lots of posting or dangerous snowshoe traverses--best to glissade or boot-ski down it if you are there when the snow is soft. If you are there when the snow is hard, plunge-step down. We were going to tackle Whitney, but we didn't have enough food and time, so we continued on the PCT. Wallace, Wright, and Tyndall creeks were easy because of the reduced flows and snow bridges. Tyndall, especially, because of the nearly complete snow coverage. Beware of the sun exposure to your skin when above timberline. Even our spf 30 didn't cut it. Here we received our second larger snow storm that kept all three of us tent-bound for an entire day. No navigational problems in this area as you are nearly above the trees and can easily see where you are going. Forester Pass: (a lot to say about this one) Nasty, icy and dangerous to those who are improperly equipped and trained. The snow field, south side, runs up about 2/3rd of the way to the pass and then you can see a few switchbacks exposed on the right side, full of snow/ice; of course, with downhill/side rocks open to be walked on (dangerous). That leaves you to walk the icy trail bed, some of which has some rock/gravel tread to put your boots on. Use your ice axe to cut back the ice where you can't find a place to put your boots on non-slippery rock. The chute was all ice that required the cutting of something like 43 bucket foot-holds through the six inches of ice into the softer snow beneath, all this while balancing in its very steep pitch. In all honesty, if we didn't have traditional leather boots (Limmers), a long ice axe (from 1970), and the skills to use them, we would not be here to share this with you today. Unless the Sierra starts to warm up, it is our recommendation that you do not attempt this Pass unless well prepared and trained to do so. It took an hour and 45 minutes to cut these steps, non-stop, because I could not turn around or rest in the process; neither could my film crew who waited at the edge, packs on, because there was no balance room to move around to take them off. I could not look up nor down for fear of losing my balance. If I had dropped the axe or fatigued in the process, I would not have been able to turn around, back up, or rest while balancing. I tell this story to illustrate the hazards ahead of you. The steps are there for you, now, but do not approach the climb with soft-soled shoes that might roll out of edge-balanced steps or do not have sufficient traction (lugged soles) or firm enough torsional platform upon which to maintain a predictable balance. The cornice at the top seemed non-existent, until we got into the chute. It wasn't as large as the one I saw in 1974, but the problem this year is the wall of snow at the top of the switchbacks on the left side of the chute. This is another area where your ice axe will be required to maintain an uphill anchor in your left hand as you kick in steps to make the ten foot vertical traverse to the top of the pass and the wind that may hit you there. Another snow storm was coming in while we were there, so we didn't stay long. The descent was simple, all snow, of course, but the glissade near the end of the ridge was steep. Know your control techniques so you don't get into trouble and have to self-arrest. It all depends on the condition of the snow surface when you get there. It's all snow down to Vidette Meadow where it becomes patchy and very wet with lots of run-off coming from Bullfrog. Got nailed with new snow here, but had no trouble heading cross-country up its outflow and on toward Kearsarge Pass. Kearsarge area: All snow as expected and the route over the pass is an easy and visible straight traverse. Lots of glissade opportunities on the steep descent to the TH. "
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