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Worst Switchbacks in the Sierras...

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Re: Worst Switchbacks in the Sierras...

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:01 am

markskor wrote:Among many bad trail designs, three immediately come to mind -
Twin Lakes Trailhead: Mono Village to Barney - one long 1/2 - 3/4 mile switchback that gains ~30 feet of elevation.

There is one long curving one that approaches Barney Lake which seems like a lotta trail for nuttin'. Then (as mentioned) there is the trail above Barney that gains and loses about 100 feet. I mention these here: http://www.sierra-trails.com/benson/benson02.htm. Annoying. Still, one of the easiest east-side passes.
Another one is the moraine-top TH for Bloody Canyon, where you first drop several hundred feet before heading back up. Not so much fun coming back.
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Re: Worst Switchbacks in the Sierras...

Postby sierramel » Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:16 am

markskor.......
Ooo, ow, oo, ouch, e-GAD!
The first "long" trip I ever made with my girlfriend, Loretta (JD - you know Loretta? Been in town since Gawd was a kid?), was from Mammoth to Yosemite. Knowing next to nothing at that time about gear, OR shoes, I did the entire trip in tennies. I never knew such awfulness as that section of cobblestone hell you describe. Thin rubber soles, every step was sheer torture.
Whose idea was it to pave those trails back there with those things? And they're still there! :eek:
"Some places remain unknown because no one has ventured forth. Others remain so because no one has ever come back."
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Re: Worst Switchbacks in the Sierras...

Postby Ozark Flip » Wed Oct 20, 2010 12:21 pm

Any switchback that goes downhill when traveling in the uphill direction, or vis versa.


Perfect! :thumbsup:

I also second Shepherds Pass, between M-Flat and Anvil. That sucks!

I haven't been on the one Mark describes, heard too many bad things. :D

Neat Loretta story Mel!
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Re: Worst Switchbacks in the Sierras...

Postby cmon4day » Wed Oct 20, 2010 1:10 pm

Mt Lassen!!! (although technically may be not in the Sierra's. Isn't it considered Cascades???)
I climbed Mt Lassen when I was 10 years old and I can still remember those vicious switchbacks all the way to the top.
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Re: Worst Switchbacks in the Sierras...

Postby Cloudy » Wed Oct 20, 2010 6:45 pm

DoyleWDonehoo wrote:Lots of passes mention I have done and are pretty bad, but from the west side, Black Rock Pass is the most exposed grinding grueling endless trudge (starting below Pinto Lake). I would also say the nearby Sawtooth Pass going west to east would be the worst, but I would never do that on purpose.


I have been over Black Rock Pass twice from the east side and each time I have thought "OMG, I'm glad I'm not going the other way!". An eternity up loooong switchbacks, however I like the starkness of the view so perhaps it wouldn't be too bad.,..
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Re: Worst Switchbacks in the Sierras...

Postby ceragold5150 » Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:51 pm

Switchbacks - ease the climb. Worst switchbacks are the ones when you are out of shape! Hint! Hint! :unibrow:
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Re: Worst Switchbacks in the Sierras...

Postby JMat » Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:37 pm

markskor wrote:Tuolumne Pass (out of TM)- at the 10,000 ft. metal sign, one way goes down to Boothe and the other says 1/2 mile to Voglesang but feels closer to a mile and with their great switchback planning, gains and looses the same 500 feet of elevation 3 X.
Cobblestone switchbacks above Merced Lake coming from Voglesang: 2000 foot loss of too-small cobblestone hell.

There are too many to name but I have to agree with Marskor on these two for sure... That swtchback down to Merced Lake has to be one of the worst around. I did it for the first time when I was10 or 11 and it;s still as bad today as it was then,
I vote for another too... The 2000' decent to Summit City Canyon from 4th of July Lake into the Moke drainage on to findout you going to have to do it all over again just to get out of their. I did that hike (The OLd Tahoe Yousemite Trail) back when I was 19 and that part sure was rough.

John
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Re: Worst Switchbacks in the Sierras...

Postby dave54 » Thu Oct 21, 2010 7:54 am

hmmm -- Jacob's Ladder in the Marble Mountains comes to mind...
Last edited by dave54 on Thu Oct 21, 2010 7:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Worst Switchbacks in the Sierras...

Postby balzaccom » Thu Oct 21, 2010 8:48 am

You guys are aiming way too high.

Copper Creek out of King's Canyon? That's about 5,000 feet in five miles. And the lower elevation makes it even hotter. And there is no water. And if you don't stop after five miles...it's another tough few miles to ge to the next stop....
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Re: Worst Switchbacks in the Sierras...

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu Oct 21, 2010 12:31 pm

Copper Creek switchbacks are GREAT! I went up these this summer late August with 10-days food (moderately heavy pack)- left 5:30 AM and got to Grouse Lake by 1PM. Cannot think of an easier way to get up 6,000 feet. I think these are some of the best switchbacks - very well graded - just get into a groove and keep going. Also, there are plenty of water sources along the way so I did not have to carry much water.

I recall Mt Lassen being very easy to climb. I do not even remember any hideous switchbacks.

Switchbacks get no respect! The worst switchbacks would be those that are actually harder to do than simply going off-trail stright up. I do not know of many passes where this is true. I do a LOT of off-trail passes, and believe me, I will take those switchbacks any day. I do agree that switchbacks that go on for nearly a mile and only gain a few feet are a bit silly.
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Re: Worst Switchbacks in the Sierras...

Postby BSquared » Thu Oct 21, 2010 12:41 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:Switchbacks get no respect! The worst switchbacks would be those that are actually harder to do than simply going off-trail stright up. I do not know of many passes where this is true. I do a LOT of off-trail passes, and believe me, I will take those switchbacks any day. I do agree that switchbacks that go on for nearly a mile and only gain a few feet are a bit silly.

:soapbox: Exactly the point I was trying to make about the east-coast trails! We'd be delighted with a few switchbacks now and then! (Well, I would anyway, transplanted left-coaster that I am...)
—B²
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Re: Worst Switchbacks in the Sierras...

Postby quentinc » Thu Oct 21, 2010 3:01 pm

I can think of (and listed) several trails that would be better off without the switchbacks that are actually there. The problem with switchbacks that are absurd overkill is (i) they encourage people to cut them, thereby often degrading the trail, and (ii) for people like me, who would rather go cross-country, they often get in the way and I'm afraid of cutting them. For me, if a trail is steep, I'd rather just stop now and then and just rest for a few moments, rather than walking pointlessly from side to side.

I'm not proposing "no switchbacks" as the solution, but rather switchbacks that are rational.
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