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Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

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Re: Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

Postby BSquared » Wed Nov 03, 2010 3:38 am

oldranger wrote:Bill,

I disagree with you--the other thread is different. I could tell you what my favorite or least favorite passes are but best or worst? They are all good they get you where you want to go. ... Another favorite is Glen because my wife and I went over it on our first date--how about that for a first date--3 nights and part of 3 days doing the Rae Lakes Loop together. (the first day's hike we did separately because I couldn't start until after work and I didn't catch up until 10 PM at Junction Meadow)

Mike, what a great first date! Glenn is one of my favorites, too, because it was my first high-sierra pass. Just out of college a group of us hiked up Bubbs Creek to Vidette Meadow and took a day trip to the top of Glenn Pass, and I remember being completely awe-struck by the rugged alpine scenery, the beautiful Rae Lakes beyond (which I didn't get to for nearly 40 years!), and the apparently impassible wall we saw when we first popped over the lip of the tarn that's at the north-side base of the final switchbacks. There was a young(er) hiker resting at the top who quoted Muir at us: "Man must labor for beauty as well as for bread." Great pass!
—B²



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Re: Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

Postby East Side Hiker » Wed Nov 03, 2010 7:13 am

It is all mental, and rock to rock, but the pass does get you to where you want to go, and that is into the Sierra Crest.

I do like the way the sky gets more blue with every step, then you are there with the peaks all around you.

Sonora Pass while driving is great. Then you park and walk up to Sonora Peak and you are in heaven. All the volcanic rock. And Leavitt Pk. right there. But if you're driving, Tioga Pass, then to Dana, is mighty fine. Monitor Pass in the fall is a good one cuz of the aspin color and the mule deer migration.
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Re: Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

Postby hikerchick395 » Wed Nov 03, 2010 8:46 am

Perception-wise, Taboose was the toughest here on the eastside. I, too, am a fan of Shepherd but I haven't been on it awhile. I think some trail reconstruction has occurred since then.

An amazingly well built pass is Forester. As is the Whitney Trail as it tops Trail Crest.

A tough pass to descend, though well trodden, is Muir southbound, but on either side is some of the most beautiful country in the Sierra.

Obviously cross country passes are more difficult. But all passes get you where you're going...up and over...usually with inspiring views and a sense of accomplishment.


As far as driving...I live for opening day of Tioga Pass...finally access from the eastside each late spring and time for our family's visit to Yosemite Valley.
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Re: Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

Postby quentinc » Wed Nov 03, 2010 11:19 am

hikerchick395 wrote:
An amazingly well built pass is Forester.


Agreed. I've been busy criticizing switchbacks lately, but the south side of Forester is a marvel of trail engineering. Even from close up, it looks like you're headed up a sheer cliff, but the trail is somehow well-graded and incredibly smooth the entire way. I just noticed this summer, for the first time, a plaque memorializing a young man who died in rockfall while working on building the trail. A Sierra hero.
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Re: Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

Postby Tom » Wed Nov 03, 2010 4:52 pm

In the last 6 years I have done New Army Pass 4 times (East to West). It seems to get easier every time. The Views are terrific and seems to be a no brainer that gets me into the heart of Golden Trout country.

However, I prefer passes that have me cursing during their crossing and wanting to go back after a night in camp. I always think that a good pass is like women giving birth. Afterwards you forget the pain and want another.

The toughest one that I ever did was (East to West) Taboose. In mid-summer, heat and elevation gain combined with sea level the day before had me worried about my sanity. However, what a view as I crested the first time and looked down into the Bench Lake area. The second time was West to East as a snow bailout and I thought it was tedius once I hit lower elevations.

The most fun that I have had was Italy Pass (West to East). As a non-climber/fisherman I had a great time at that altitude this past fall. More challenging than my normal fishing trails yet did not require much more in technical skills.

Mather Pass looking South and Franklin Pass looking East have some excellent views. As someone else indicated most views from Sierra Passes are excellent. No matter how tough the climb.
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Re: Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

Postby GH-Dave » Wed Nov 03, 2010 6:36 pm

Mention of Taboose Pass brings back some memories. Back in the mid-70s, a buddy and I did that little jaunt. Our kit comprised, among other ridiculous things, of a 12-inch cast iron skillet for frying the trout we anticipated catching.

I didn't own a light-weight mummy bag at the time so I brought a big, heavy rectangular camp sleeping bag.

Lightweight backpacker tent? Hah! You jest. No, we had a good old canvas two man Boy Scout type of tent.

I am amazed now at what we were hauling up that pass. We made it. Both of us suffered from altitude sickness the next day, and laid up at Bench Lake.

I'm trying to talk my buddy into doing a return hike next year, as we will both be 60 years old. He thinks I'm crazy.

We'll see.

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Re: Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

Postby Herm » Wed Nov 03, 2010 9:53 pm

Tom;
Tom wrote:Mather Pass looking South and Franklin Pass looking East have some excellent views. As someone else indicated most views from Sierra Passes are excellent. No matter how tough the climb.

I too enjoyed the view looking east from Franklin Pass, and found the trail getting there from Franklin Lakes to be well graded and good hiking.
Another where the views are nice and the approach from the east is relatively easy is the pass above Virginia Lakes in the Hoover Wilderness.
What does anyone think about Pine Creek Pass?
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Re: Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

Postby Tom » Wed Nov 03, 2010 10:18 pm

Pine Creek Pass was my wifes first pass. We were the second day up from sea level but the pass seemed pretty mellow. We kept running into some fisherman that were out of Honeymoon Lake and had day packs. They struggled with some of the sections of trail. We just plugged along, checked out the view and surroundings and loved the pass.
Image
French Canyon was sun drenched and very inviting. We actually spent all day getting to Humphreys Meadow because of the scenery and fishing.

My wife loved the pass and it set her up for Selden and then Italy Pass. A lot of fun and she is still speaking to me.
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Re: Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

Postby Jimr » Thu Nov 04, 2010 11:08 am

My favorite is Finger Col.
hisierra2.JPG

hisierra9.JPG


I'm not much of a peak bagger, but I LOVE passes.
What?!
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Re: Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu Nov 04, 2010 3:40 pm

The worst passes are those that you go over once and are glad to be alive and hope to never go over them again - unsafe passes that you can die on. Loose large talus is at the top of my list. As is unstable steep snow. Snow Tongue, Skypilot Col, Pyra Queen, Sluggo and White Bear.

The best passes are spectacular, safe, great exposure made safe with good trail construction or nature's construction - cleaver ledges through seemingly impossible terrain. The pass to Whitney (sorry can't remember its name- trailcrest??), Keweah Gap (west side tunnel is cool), Thunderbolt Pass (cleaver ledges on south side) and spectacular view of Palisades.

Passes that I simply did not like due to miserable loose rock, scree or sand (but relatively safe) - Longley, Nancy, Sawtooth, Pants Pass, Gabbot, Avalanche (false summits)

Passes that I simply like - Taboose, Kesearge, Elizabeth, Italy
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Re: Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

Postby East Side Hiker » Fri Nov 05, 2010 7:13 am

Re: Tom's previous note:

I call the pass above Virginia Lakes "Frog Lakes Pass." By the little ice-fed lake that's behind the pass, there's an incredibly beautiful population of Saxifraga tolmiei, surrounded by shooting stars.
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Re: Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

Postby John Dittli » Fri Nov 05, 2010 8:53 am

Never met a pass I didn't like...
_MG_5438.jpg
north Goddard Pass

_MG_5450.jpg
Haekel col


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