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Turned back on Granite-Bear Pass and short TR

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Turned back on Granite-Bear Pass and short TR

Postby mokelumnekid » Sun Aug 29, 2010 11:15 pm

Before starting on the TR, the pre-trip was awesome: on the fight from Seattle to Reno, I sat next to none other than Conrad Anker, perhaps the world’s greatest living, active mountaineer. Now that was an interesting conversation! He was going to Bishop to hang with Peter Croft, doing laps on the Palisades as 'vacation.' After that was 5 days of geology (and beer) in Bridgeport with the likes of giantbrookie.
penrose.jpg
giantbrookie, anon, me with Stone IPA


Most of the trip was unremarkable: Day 1 Pine Ck. trail into Granite Park. For me the high point was going to be Granite-Bear Pass (GBP) on day three as that would be something new. On day two (rest day) we ran into HST member skywalker and all went up to Italy Pass (he continued to Bear Lk's.), did the slog up Julius Caesar, and walked the ridge between Granite Park and Chalfant Lakes. But I had a funny feeling about GBP as it looked like the snow completely filled the upper reaches.
GBP1.jpg
Granite Bear Pass


So we set-out to get a better look. The closer we got the closer I had to get. On reconn, we ended up going up the pass on the far right, as the scree was a bit more locked against the right wall. About half way up, we moved onto the main talus bar, just right of the snow. I continued up until the snow filled the pass. I then climbed down into the moat to see if it was passable.

GBP2.jpg
Wife coming up into main talus bar, half way up

After kicking snow bridges into the moat, the moat became deeper with vertical walls. This is extremely dangerous, if the moat breaks through, one would be in a vertical pin. To continue I did a couple of low-class 5 moves on crappy rock and actually topped out on the pass, but knew that would not be possible with a pack on. I went back down and rejoined the wife on the talus. But I did not want to give up, so after going back down to the bottom of the snow I went back up the left side. Near the top, again the snow completely filled the pass and the moat was even in worse shape. SO- if interested in GBP, either come prepared to take on the steep snow at the top, or come a few weeks later in the year.

Damn! After almost climbing the pass twice on the ‘rest’ day it was not going to go. Maybe if I had alpine boots for kicking proper steps and an ice axe we could brave the upper thirty feet of snow on the right side, but without that, no way (I am very leery of steep snow without proper equipment, in the Pacific Northwest where I live, steep snow is a killer, and if nothing else, will leave you weeping with fear. Give me steep rock any day). After talking over the risk vs. reward calculation, we reluctantly decided to go the alternate route. :crybaby:

So the next day we went over Italy Pass to Vee Lk. via Bear Lakes. I don’t find this route interesting- from the standpoint of a physical and route finding challenge, or geological or visual standpoint.

Next day we went up past Den Lk. towards Feather Pass and ran into HST regulars: Calipidder and Trailtrekker06, who had teamed up with skywalker, as they were heading east. That night the weather started to break, giving some visual interest to the sky, and the next day we went from Vee Lk. to Feather Pass via Den Lk., contouring above Bear Lks. Much better route in my opinion. We continued down past Merriam Lk. to French Canyon, over Pine Ck. Pass and camped near the small lake (pond) at about 10,550 ft. Next day out to car at Pine Creek. Passed a packer (female) leading an unloaded horse and boy, was she rude. Just saying.

Lastly, with that full moon, it was very, very bright at night at Vee Lk. So bright it was hard to sleep...
Last edited by mokelumnekid on Mon Aug 30, 2010 11:37 am, edited 4 times in total.



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Re: Turned back on Granite-Bear Pass and short TR

Postby quentinc » Mon Aug 30, 2010 9:21 am

MK, I tried to send this PM reply, but it shows that it's still languishing in my outbox. So in case it didn't go through:

I actually got turned back by the Park Service. There weren't any permits for Piute, which was how I planned to enter and then travel by Puppet Pass. You read about my aversion to the Pine Creek Trail! I ended up going over Lamarck Col instead, up to Muir Pass and then into Davis and McGee Lake basins.

Surprising to hear there was that much snow at GBP. I'm sure it would have turned me around sooner than it did you. I do like the route over Feather Pass, which I've done a couple of times.
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Re: Turned back on Granite-Bear Pass and short TR

Postby giantbrookie » Mon Aug 30, 2010 8:48 pm

Thanks for the report. It would appear that Granite-Bear is a seasonal affair, then, with ice axe being standard equipment for all but the latest time of year (except in a drought year)--this very much corrects my perspective on this route that was acquired during a very dry year (1992). I hear you about the moat, too. I took a scary fall into the moat between the Mt. Gilbert chute and one of the bounding rock walls while downclimbing the snow in the couloir in 1978. No serious damage but I still have scars on my right calf from the experience.

The guy in the center of the beer photo is Bruce Pauley. He was planning a Taboose Pass-Lake Basin trip sometime after the conference and he had his topos out at one point for consultation. You (MK) and Fred Phillips still get the awards for best trips stuck right on either end of the conference by participants, with you leaving for the Granite Basin after the conference, and Fred hiking out over Taboose Pass the morning of the icebreaker party (and still arriving in Bridgeport before many of us, including me).
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: Turned back on Granite-Bear Pass and short TR

Postby TehipiteTom » Mon Aug 30, 2010 9:03 pm

Sounds like a great time before the trip. Almost makes me want to be a geologist, only without all that boring stuff about rocks*.
;)





*Just kidding. Actually, I find it pretty interesting--I've just never studied it formally.
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Re: Turned back on Granite-Bear Pass and short TR

Postby calipidder » Mon Aug 30, 2010 9:19 pm

Of the small handful of people to run into back there in Bear Lakes basin it was nice to meet a HST regular. We stayed in Granite Park on the first night and spent some time looking towards Granite Bear Pass. Glad we didn't try it. We went into Bear Lakes Basin via Italy and Dancing Bear.

It was a good peak bagging trip - Julius Caesar on the way in, then Seven Gables from Bear Lakes Basin. Tagged Royce (barely) after meeting you below Feather pass - got chased off the summit by thunderstorms. Did get to the summit block but didn't find register before the BOOMs came.

Then we went up to Steelhead Lake in upper french canyon (brrrr - windy and cold up there), then bagged Four Gables the next day (used the vague 'sandy chute' route described by secor - more like 'very steep loose talus and gravel, 4WD required') then exited Pine Creek on Saturday. Glad we got out of there - cold and wind made the hot springs quite enjoyable that evening.

Did gordon ever catch up with you guys after the hike? I know he was planning on it when he left us on Thursday.
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Re: Turned back on Granite-Bear Pass and short TR

Postby mokelumnekid » Mon Aug 30, 2010 10:17 pm

Calipidder:

We were walking right through your camp above Merriam Lk. when the thunder happened- otherwise I would have played a small, but very harmless practical joke- just to let you know we came by. But we wanted to get down to Merriam basin in case it started to pour.

We missed Gordon- he thought we were going to be at JT's on Friday and he waited there, but we didn't go until Saturday night, so we missed him. Wish we could have spent more time with your team- it was fun. Maybe some other year? I'm sure I'll see Gordon as he lives so close to Ebbetts Pass and I have a lot of cabin work to do next summer up there.
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Re: Turned back on Granite-Bear Pass and short TR

Postby maverick » Tue Aug 31, 2010 7:15 pm

Was this an unintended HST reunion, and I missed out.
I was at Seven Gables Lakes Thursday, and got up to Vee Friday hoping to find
MK, and his wife there, but I was the the only one there.
It was cold, especially with that constant breeze.
Sunday morning it was 27 degrees, and by far the coldest of the 5 nights out, not to
mention Sat and Sun snow events.
Only thunder I heard was at around noon on Thursday, and that was it for the whole
trip.
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Re: Turned back on Granite-Bear Pass and short TR

Postby mokelumnekid » Tue Aug 31, 2010 8:52 pm

Maverick;

Sorry we missed you, that one thunderclap you head on Thursday was the same one I heard when passing through the camp of skywalker, calipidder and trailtrekker06 on Thursday just above the Merriam Lk. basin (it was raining sparse but large drops on us at that time). At that point the darkest part of the storm looked to be over by Glacier Divide, but skywalker later told me that up on Royce Pk. at that time, things were starting to get electrified so they got off the summit.
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