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Bishop Pass or Piute Pass?

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Bishop Pass or Piute Pass?

Postby markoboston » Tue Jul 13, 2010 6:11 pm

I am planning to hike ultimately into Evolution Basin from the Bishop area. I have done some high-elevation backpacking, but it's been a few years. ;) A couple weeks ago, I did a practice run at the highest elevation I could find near home (12 miles, c. 5000 feet, cumulative 5000 foot elevation gain over up-and-down hike), and I found it pretty exhausting. (Though I will say that trails in the White Mountains in New Hampshire, believe it or not, are steeper and more rugged than most in the Sierra.) So when I hike over the watershed into Kings Canyon, with my fully loaded pack, I want to take the easiest route possible. (Call me a wimp.) Which would be the easier route: Piute Pass or Bishop Pass? Thanks for your help.



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Re: Bishop Pass or Piute Pass?

Postby Timberline » Tue Jul 13, 2010 7:40 pm

Hey, markoboston, welcome
Not sure of your expectations here - - both Bishop and Piute passes will get you to Evolution Basin via different routes. Piute Pass actually puts you into the upper reaches of the San Joaquin River Basin (So. Fork), from which you access Evolution Valley via Piute Creek down to the River, then back up the river and Evolution Creek to McClure Meadow and beyond; stated simply, from the pass this is a down-up. Comparatively Bishop Pass is a down-up-down: from the Pass down thru Dusy Basin to the LeConte Canyon and the Middle Fork of the Kings, then back up and over Muir Pass, and down to the Evolution country. Either way is probably 2-3 days to Evolution area if you're not acclimated, or unless you're in a hurry (but here, don't be!).

Couple of thoughts: if you have the time, why don't you make a loop of it: Go in thru one pass and out the other? If you have a car parked at either South Lake or North Lake, you can complete the loop by going over Table Mountain via Tyee Lakes to close the loop. I did this in '71 and it was one of the best in my (unfortunately) limited repertoire of classic Sierra hikes. Exceptional country, especially if you're seeing it for the 1st time?

OR -- if time or other considerations limit that option, the quickest way to Evolution Basin from the east is via Lamark Col and the Darwin Bench, from North Lake via Upper Lamark Lake on the east side. Don't know snow conditions of that choice this year, so someone else may be able to fill you in on that.

I'm sure other, more experienced hikers here can guide you better than I , but I hope this gives you some idea of the exceptional possibilities in this region of the Sierra. You've chosen well, amigo! :nod:
Happy Trails! (Can we hope for a trip report?)
Let 'er Buck! Back in Oregon again!
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Re: Bishop Pass or Piute Pass?

Postby snowblind » Tue Jul 13, 2010 7:47 pm

Piute pass is much easier...in fact, I find it one of the easiest trails to the high sierra (it is always the one I advise people to try first). Yes, Lamarck Col is the shortest way to evolution, but it is a tough hike and if you are concerned about Bishop vs. Piute passes, I would skip it.

I hiked North Lake->Puite Pass->Snow Tongue->Lamarck Col last week and this was a nice trip, however, Snow Tongue is a bit tricky for some people (depends on experience). There is a lot of snow this year for this time. In fact, several lakes had a great deal of snow (Summit, Desolation, etc.), but once you get below 10k, it is basically snow free.

Let me know if you want to see photos of the area as of last week and I can post a couple.
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Re: Bishop Pass or Piute Pass?

Postby texan » Tue Jul 13, 2010 8:19 pm

I agree with snowblind. Piute Pass is one of the easiest in the Sierras. Its about 2000 ft elevation gain in 5 easy miles.

Texan
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Re: Bishop Pass or Piute Pass?

Postby giantbrookie » Tue Jul 13, 2010 8:52 pm

By far the quickest way to Evolution is Lamarck Col but one must be experienced in off trail travel and hiking on snow, including some steep stuff just below the pass (although a big hiker's groove develops there during the season). Piute Pass and Bishop Pass are actually reasonably comparable. I believe Bishop Pass is 1 mi further and the elevation gain is about 200' more. However, I believe the hiking distance to Evolution may be a tad shorter via Bishop Pass than via Piute and the intervening hiking is through somewhat (not by much) more stunning scenery en route than the Piute end-around, which really goes down a long way before coming back up.

On the other hand, if one insists on being trailbound (ie has to choose btw Piute Pass and Bishop instead of Lamarck Col), why not go in via Florence Lake on the west side? This is easily the fastest all-trail entry to Evolution and it is 2nd fastest overall, after Lamarck Col.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: Bishop Pass or Piute Pass?

Postby John Dittli » Wed Jul 14, 2010 6:38 am

I'd have to agree with GB; easiest trail into Evolution is from florence, you miss all that fine high country along the crest though. If you are coming in from the eastside, why not do both Piute and Bishop passes? It's a nice loop. The lower reaches of the Piute Creek trail are steep and exposed (ie. hot). I personally find the Bishop pass route into LeConte more pleasant, but then you must climb Muir Pass as well to reach Evolution.
Anyway you go, it's good country.

John
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Re: Bishop Pass or Piute Pass?

Postby markoboston » Wed Jul 14, 2010 10:16 am

This is great information! I think I will try the Piute-Evolution-Bishop Pass loop. That sounds like a great idea. It sounds to me like Piute is the easier route in: just one pass instead of two. That sounds like the way to go when my pack is full of food and fuel. Once I have lightened up a bit and acclimated more to the altitude, it will be easier to hike out over Muir Pass and Bishop Pass. I have six days for the trip, so that should leave me a couple days for day hikes from a base camp. I think I might try the Lamarck Col as a day hike from Evolution Basin, without the full pack. Living in New England, I am comfortable hiking over snow, and I do like to get off the trail, though not necessarily with a full pack. Thanks for mentioning Florence Lake, but I do want to come in from the east side of the Sierra, which I've never done before, and I want to maximize my time in the high country. I have never been to this part of the Sierra before at all. I was aware that it existed but never made it there. (In an earlier life I was a starving student in the Bay Area, without a car.) It is kind of a dream trip for me. I will try to remind myself to write up a trip report when I get back. Thanks for your help!
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Re: Bishop Pass or Piute Pass?

Postby maverick » Wed Jul 14, 2010 3:16 pm

Darwin Bench affords some fine views to the west as do the small lakes north of
Evo Valley like Lake 11236 area, and the lakes south of Goethe Glacier on the
western side.
McGee Lakes is a great place to visit, and there is a class 2 pass you can jump at
its eastern end to hook up with the JMT again.
Also make sure to spend time in Dusy Basin which is gorgeous, especially Lake
11393 with its little islands, and a marvelous alpine glo behind it from the
Palisade Range when the weather is right.
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