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early hike across shepherd pass

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Re: early hike across shepherd pass

Postby SPeacock » Sat Apr 02, 2011 11:33 am




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Re: early hike across shepherd pass

Postby East Side Hiker » Sat Apr 02, 2011 4:11 pm

I do have to admit that Shepherd Pass, as dasterdly as it is, is my favorite. Gets one right in the heart of things.
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Re: early hike across shepherd pass

Postby East Side Hiker » Mon Apr 04, 2011 8:38 pm

When I've gone up the Horseshoe Mdw Rd, or the Onion Valley Rd, or the Baxter Pass Rd, as far as I can in past Aprils, which I do every year, all I've ever seen are barricades across the road. Maybe the gate is higher up, but I can't remember seeing one. I'm sure there is one. I've driven by them many times when the road is mostly dry to photograph the first flowers coming up at bottom of the receeding snow pack. But as someone said, there are a lot of rocks in the road.
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Re: early hike across shepherd pass

Postby SPeacock » Tue Apr 05, 2011 5:18 pm

Rahpus, in mid June you will certainly have snow covering the trail above 11,000' and perhaps spotty trail and a few berms across the trail above 10,700 or so. Cottonwood Pass sees a lot more sun (south facing) than does the Cottonwood and South Fork Lakes basins but you can probably plan on some snow up where you are going until more toward end of June .

http://www.topo.com/explore?lat=36.4534 ... &type=topo

Not sure where you are going after there, but a lot of people are still skiing up at that altitude mid June. Really!

You will probably be on snow or at least have some on the trail until you get on the other side of Army Pass at Rock Creek. Mighty slow going that... Plan on at least two days to Rock Creek.

Now is not the time to go up Whitney from the back side if that was your intention - saw it mentioned. Later, (late July/August) it is an amazing hike on this trail with some time spent at the Mitre and surrounds on the way.

But if you head south into Whitney Meadows area, you will be snow free, but on wet trail for a good portion of it. Rocky Basin Lakes would be a good destination...depending upon trail conditions.

http://www.topo.com/explore?lat=36.4403 ... &type=topo

If you find too much snow at Cottonwood Pass (you will find out in first few hours) retrace your steps and try Cottonwood Lakes. Usually (almost) snow free by Father's day every year - including heavy snow years such as this one. It is a half day hike with packs up to the lakes. Long days mid June!

http://www.topo.com/explore?lat=36.4966 ... &type=topo
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Re: early hike across shepherd pass

Postby Cross Country » Tue Apr 05, 2011 5:35 pm

For these very reasons, the 2 times I (we) went over Shepherd pass I chose August to do it. Because it's such a great area with so much to offer, August isn't too late in the season. I went there 3 times and spent 15 days. It wasn't enough time and I didn't see all of it.
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Re: early hike across shepherd pass

Postby almostpicasso » Wed Apr 06, 2011 10:57 pm

I'm sure others will have kicked steps into the snow on the east side of the pass, but having a light weight axe would be very comforting this year, I doubt the snow will melt out much before mid-Aug.

Carry plenty of water after leaving Symmes Ck, it's a long hot stretch until you reach water at Mahogany Flat. The view of Mt. Williamson from the hump 9600' is a jaw-dropper.

CIMG2056.JPG.800.jpg
May 2008
CIMG2056.JPG.800.jpg
May 2008
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Pass is center-right
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Re: early hike across shepherd pass

Postby vhsvhs » Fri Apr 08, 2011 12:01 am

@raphus --- I climbed over Shepherd Pass in late June 2010. It looked like this:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/victorhans ... 467684028/

There was plenty of snow in June 2010---and I'm sure there will be much more this year in June---but we crossed safely with only trekking poles and running shoes. We spent the previous night at Anvil Camp. In the morning, we waited a couple hours for the snow to soften under the sun. We reached the Shepherd Pass headwall about 10:00 am, and the snow was perfect slushy for kick-stepping:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/victorhans ... /lightbox/

Although we didn't need axes, I think we got lucky. To echo other people in this thread, I suggest you bring an axe, especially for the final 100-foot climb:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/victorhans ... 467684028/

We encountered no snow cornice, but you might in June 2011. The top of Shepherd Pass is a multi-fork chute with multiple rock-scrambling options around potential cornices.

I think Shepherd Pass is definitely crossable in June this year, assuming (i) you wait for the headwall snow to soften in the sun, (ii) you're comfortable using your ice axe if needed, and (iii) you're game for maybe scrambling a short section.
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Re: early hike across shepherd pass

Postby East Side Hiker » Sat Apr 23, 2011 7:10 pm

Most certainly, there will be no early hike over Shepherd Pass this year that won't involve a major snow crossing, both sides. It may keep snowing until June. And if we have a warm spell during May, the run-off will be fabulous. I'd just go to Markleeville and watch the Carson flooding... Then you could go drink pints at the bar in between flood watching... Their Hemp ale is very good.
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Re: early hike across shepherd pass

Postby slade » Sun May 01, 2011 10:20 am

Shepherd Pass is an excellent approach to climbing Mt. Whitney--as raphus's initial post says he plans--as is Cottonwood Pass. The Cottonwood Pass route is a little shorter (2.4 miles according to Harrison), and an easier start (higher trailhead and lower pass, as discussed above), but both routes are beautiful and scenic in their own way, and in the final analysis, the conditions atop Mt. Whitney--raphus's stated goal--will control. A mid-July start should work either way.
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Re: early hike across shepherd pass

Postby SPeacock » Sun May 01, 2011 5:26 pm

If you are looking for scenery the Shepherd Pass route is hands down more spectacularly scenic than is Cottonwood Pass. But going over Kearsarge and camping at the meadows and then Tyndall Creek the next night would be about the same time as getting to Tyndall Creek from Symmes Creek trail head. Most spend the night near Anvil. A few make it over to the other side on the first day with a big pack.

If you can do that, then it really doesn't matter which way you go.

I'd rather do Shepherd Pass than Forester in June. It is sort of like deciding between going to Denver by I- 70 or I 40 in the spring.
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