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Need advice for JMT this early July

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Re: Need advice for JMT this early July

Postby Nepal » Wed May 04, 2011 9:36 am

fishmonger wrote:and regarding snow plot - just recently I found this one

http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cdecapp/snowap ... art.action

I like it better because it lets you compare years (if you have been there before). Sometimes you need to submit twice to have it register your request for a different plot, but it works like a charm


So from Bishop pass south, which section(s) of the trails are considered to be most difficult? Do you have any pictures from your last trip? Are these pictures you showed here are the most difficult (with my fingers crossed!) one?



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Re: Need advice for JMT this early July

Postby fishmonger » Wed May 04, 2011 10:12 am

Nepal wrote:So from Bishop pass south, which section(s) of the trails are considered to be most difficult? Do you have any pictures from your last trip? Are these pictures you showed here are the most difficult (with my fingers crossed!) one?


"most difficult" is relative. Danger of falling? For 2009, this section north of Mather gave my son some pause, because there's about 500 feet of elevation to the bottom where you'd hit rocks if you should go sliding down:

Image

coming up to Glen you will definitely have to cross this one, just much bigger, although the perspective here makes it look worse than it is. He had no issues walking this thing up on his slippery trail runners that year

Image

about half a mile below Forester, solid snow started in late july 2010 (north side). I broke through a hole at one point up there and needed the kids to help me out. It was one of those darn boulders that gets warm in the sun and then melts the snow around its edges from the bottom up.

Image

and this one just south of the top of Forester will be your biggest challenge this year, as it will not be as easy to pass as on this photo. Just imagine this snow field to extend another 500 feet down at the same incline...


Image


As for most difficult location - are you entering over Bishop Pass or Lamarc Col? Through Dusy Basin or via High Route to Potluck Pass and then down to the JMT? Easiest entry will be Bishop Pass to Dusy Basin and down to Le Conte Canyon. You are bypassing Muir Pass that way, which even in July 2010 was called "freaking Antarctica" by a PCT hiker who met us on Selden Pass. The Muir Pass region isn't difficult, but it certainly holds the most snow, given it is the largest contiguous alpine region south of Alaska (no joke). This is heading south from the pass July 22, 2010

Image


Lamarc Col is heavily used so finding the route across should be easy, and you get the Muir Pass ice box as a warmup. If you go in via Bishop Pass and then head southeast via Knapsack and Potluck Pass, be prepared for some serious difficulties. Do not go there alone or without rope and crampons (Potluck Pass descent is climbing in good conditions)


Mather Pass is much steeper, so snow travel is limited to a steep climb and a steep descent. Most of the years, the south side is dry by mid July, but this year I'd expect a few switchbacks to be snow covered even on the south side. North, well, it's 35-40 degree snow slopes in some sections, and it was clearly the place where my son had his reality check - tough teens suddenly faced with real danger quickly become very cautious...

Pinchot pass rarely is a problem - nothing steep on the north slope, possibly a few snowed-in switchbacks just below the pass on the south side, but not very exposed. Glen Pass is a little steeper, and you will find snow on some of the short switchbacks that climb a small ridge. Higher up there will be one snow field before the top, bit not very steep.

Forester - more snow, probably starting at about 11,500 feet for real. The trail is usually buried in once you get up to the last flank of the mountain below the pass, but it's really nothing you will be bothered by after having done the other passes. On the south side of Forester, there's one snow field that will already have a trail on it, but it's a "pucker" moment to cross. 20 careful steps, crampons and ice axe highly recommended if it's still frozen in the morning.

On Trail Crest usually nothing much on the west side, but going down to the Portal, there'll be plenty of snow on the switchbacks, but given the high traffic there, it should be alright.
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Re: Need advice for JMT this early July

Postby Nepal » Wed May 04, 2011 10:46 am

Thank you so much for such detailed explanation! If July 20 of 2010 looks like that I guess I really should seriously reconsider my trip schedule.
I just hope they still have quota available.
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Re: Need advice for JMT this early July

Postby maverick » Wed May 04, 2011 11:12 am

Hi Nepal

Welcome aboard!
I am getting into this discussion a little late, but as others have said, wait a month.
By the questions your asking it doesn't sound like you have all that much experience
with snow travel.
Again as mentioned, you need to learn how to use an ice axe or crampons before
using them over steep snow, or in an emergency situation(self arrest).
Steam crossing could be a major issue and you should read the thread about crossing
techniques to keep in mind in the "High Water" thread at the top.
Check back on this site to get updated conditions by reading trip reports, also check
out the PCTA.com, Whitneyportalstore.com, and SEKI NP site.
Also, what camera gear where you planning to haul?
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Need advice for JMT this early July

Postby Nepal » Wed May 04, 2011 11:37 am

maverick wrote:Hi Nepal

Again as mentioned, you need to learn how to use an ice axe or crampons before
using them over steep snow, or in an emergency situation(self arrest).
Steam crossing could be a major issue and you should read the thread about crossing
techniques to keep in mind in the "High Water" thread at the top.
Check back on this site to get updated conditions by reading trip reports, also check
out the PCTA.com, Whitneyportalstore.com, and SEKI NP site.
Also, what camera gear where you planning to haul?


Thank you, Maverick. These are all good advices and I will call tomorrow to check if I can move my trip back for a month. This is indeed a very good site and lots of information. I will certainly stay here for a long time!

About the photo gear, I use a Nikon D3x camera body which is very heavy, with a RRS L plate attached to it. Last November I hauled all my heavy lenses to Nepal which was a really a disaster. So I bought Nikon 16-35/f4 and 24-120/f4 for this trip, which significantly reduced the weight. I am also currently hunting for a lightweight but usable tripod and ballhead combo (my current Gitzo + Acra Swiss combo weigh over 7 lbs). With another cable release and 2 GND and 2 backup batteries that pretty much all.
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Re: Need advice for JMT this early July

Postby maverick » Wed May 04, 2011 12:09 pm

You might consider just taking your 24-120 lens, if you need to get wider or pano
shots, than get a RRS panning clamp, and nodal slide, both have spirit levels so things
will be leveled.
I have the omni-multi pkg for my 1ds Mark 3, and it works like a charm.
Many times folks take way to much photo gear on there trips, the easiest way to figure
out what you really need is to look at your photo's and see what focal length your
shooting the majority of your shots at, and then buy the best zoom to cover those focal
lengths.
This works most of the time, unless there are particular subjects that require a larger
variety of lenses to be carried, which I do a lot of times, but for a longer trip 24-120
should suffice for most subjects, though some times you may have to get creative.
Get a good tripod, do not skimp, it is on of the most important pieces of equipment
for a landscape photographer!
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Need advice for JMT this early July

Postby fishmonger » Wed May 04, 2011 1:02 pm

Nepal wrote:
maverick wrote: I am also currently hunting for a lightweight but usable tripod and ballhead combo (my current Gitzo + Acra Swiss combo weigh over 7 lbs).


how's this for legs? Cheap, light, packs small, strong good enough for what you got in your bag. I just bought that to support my Automate panorama bot next time out (still need to get the leveling plate)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002CVTUC4

For ballhead, I may go with the smallest RSS head. Still trying to sort out how to best combined locking plates and the panorama bot without having 4 pounds of aluminum rails and clamps in the bag.
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Re: Need advice for JMT this early July

Postby Nepal » Wed May 04, 2011 1:35 pm

maverick wrote:You might consider just taking your 24-120 lens, if you need to get wider or pano
shots, than get a RRS panning clamp, and nodal slide, both have spirit levels so things
will be leveled.
I have the omni-multi pkg for my 1ds Mark 3, and it works like a charm.
Many times folks take way to much photo gear on there trips, the easiest way to figure
out what you really need is to look at your photo's and see what focal length your
shooting the majority of your shots at, and then buy the best zoom to cover those focal
lengths.
This works most of the time, unless there are particular subjects that require a larger
variety of lenses to be carried, which I do a lot of times, but for a longer trip 24-120
should suffice for most subjects, though some times you may have to get creative.
Get a good tripod, do not skimp, it is on of the most important pieces of equipment
for a landscape photographer!


Thanks for the advice, Maverick. Wide angle, unfortunately, is a necessary evil for the type of photography I normally do. Often I like to find some interesting foreground and use hyperfocus to get its finest details. I also like night astrophotography using landscape as foreground which wide angle is a must. To bad I can't carry my 14-24/f2.8 with me (too heavy).

You are absolutely right about people tend to carry more gears than they really need! However, to me this trip is photo first after all and if I have to cut something, I would rather start with my food. :) LOL.
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Re: Need advice for JMT this early July

Postby Nepal » Wed May 04, 2011 1:50 pm

fishmonger wrote:how's this for legs? Cheap, light, packs small, strong good enough for what you got in your bag. I just bought that to support my Automate panorama bot next time out (still need to get the leveling plate)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002CVTUC4

For ballhead, I may go with the smallest RSS head. Still trying to sort out how to best combined locking plates and the panorama bot without having 4 pounds of aluminum rails and clamps in the bag.


As a matter of fact I actually looked into this one. Also this:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/5 ... ripod.html

however these legs just support 6 lbs which is very close to the the weight of my camera body + one lenses with L-plate and quick level release clamps. With my type of photography which often involves exposure time over several minutes to an hour or also, I doubt these legs can hold. But I will certainly do more research on this.
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Re: Need advice for JMT this early July

Postby maverick » Wed May 04, 2011 1:56 pm

You could use the pano gear for creating wide angle shots, and just use Helicon Focus
or PS CS5 to get all the depth of field you want, it really does work well, but this
won't help in your night photography.
Yeah, I considered buying the 14-24, but the weight, the adaptor, and the issues with
filters kind of squashed that idea.
Hopefully Canon will finally decide to introduce a great ultra wide angle that can
match the 14-24, but I won't hold my breath.
I hear ya about carrying all the equipment because it is an addictive passion, and a
very expensive one too.
When I carry my 17-40, 24-105, 100-400 lenses, and all the rest of my accessories
the weight is quite a bit, but I like you, will rather cut weight in other areas to
accommodate.
Oh, I use the Gitzo Series 2 Carbon 6X Leveling Tripod-3 Section with G-Lock, and it
handles up to 26 lbs.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Need advice for JMT this early July

Postby Nepal » Wed May 04, 2011 2:14 pm

maverick wrote: Oh, I use the Gitzo Series 2 Carbon 6X Leveling Tripod-3 Section with G-Lock, and it
handles up to 26 lbs.


I also have a GT2540 with G-lock, which is also over 4 lbs I believe. I am kinda reluctant to haul it around.....

So what's the weight of your pack with photo gears when you backpacking?
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Re: Need advice for JMT this early July

Postby maverick » Wed May 04, 2011 2:45 pm

Base weight, pack+sleeping bag+tent=6.5lbs, about 5lbs if I'm using my pancho/tarp
combo, which I do not like using that much any more because of the lack of protection
for my gear.
Food+canister is the bulkiest, heaviest item, which of coarse varies with each trip.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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