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Early July-where to take them?

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Early July-where to take them?

Postby GunnyJC » Sat May 14, 2011 6:18 am

Hey all, My name is John & I will be going out with my brother & two nephews (16 & 18) from July 2nd to July 8th. Since they are from Minnesota & Pennsylvania, the cold shouldn't be an issue, but I'm worried about how much snow there might still be left and their lack of experience with it in the mountains. I do know they have quality backpacking gear & clothing.

My initial plan was to hike out from Horseshoe Meadows via Cottonwood Pass, up to Soldier Lakes, & up into Miter Basin. I wanted to take them up a couple of class 2/easier class 3 climbs (i.e. Mt Pickering, Mt Newcomb) in that area. I've taken them all out rockclimbing several times so they should be ok with easier summits. Then up to New Army Pass, climb Mt Langley, down through the Cottonwood Lakes area and out. With all the snow and their lack of experience & snow gear, I need to start looking at other options just in case.

I'd call myself a level 3-4 backpacker/climber with several years experience as a member of a Mt. Rescue team & 20 years as a Marine. My goals are to keep them safe, make sure they have a great experience, yet give them enough challenge to keep it interesting. They have told me they would like to get on top of at least one big mountain, see some alpine lakes and get a good taste of the high Sierra's. I would like to keep the mileage at 8 miles or less on days we are carrying full packs.

We will arrive at Lone Pine somewhere around 3 pm on July 2nd, spend the night at the trailhead, head out on the 3rd and exit back out on the 8th. I reserved a campsite at Whitney Portal just in case the trailhead is full & currently have permits set up for Cottonwood Pass, but I don't mind changing locations if needed.

I'd appreciate any suggestions in case my original plan isn't feasible. Thanks!
Semper Fi!



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Re: Early July - suggestions on where to go with newbi

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat May 14, 2011 8:50 am

"Rock climbing" at the local crags vs. alpine mountaineering "rock climbing" are two entirely different things! How much mountaineering experience do the boys have? I suggest that unless they have high altitude rock climbing experience, you forget the ropes and stick to Cl 2-3 scrambling up a big peak. This will lighten your packs too.

4th of July weekend is going to be hard to get first come permits for three if you go to a popular trailhead. Here is a suggestion that would not be my first choice, but permits are usually available. I did this loop in the reverse dirction a few years ago in 4 days (light and fast trip). There will be snow on the upper part of Taboose Pass but once over, this area is open and usually melts early - at least there will be dry spots to camp. Split Mountain is one of the "14-ers". There are tons of lakes to explore that are just a bit off the PCT. You have the option to set up a base camp and do a lot of day-hikes or do shorter mileage backpacks from lake to lake. Below is just one option.

Day 1- Taboose Pass TH - to lakes just below the pass, or lower if snowy. Plenty of water and and a few flat spots to camp- Taboose canyon is quite pretty.
Day 2 - Continue to unnamed lake basin below Striped Mountain ( a little bit of off-trail)
Day 3- Go back to trail and go to Bench Lake (or on Day 2 base-camp at lake just north of Marjorie Lake and on Day 3 day-hike to the lakes below Striped Mountain and Bench Lake.
Day 4 -about 1/2 mile west of PCT, there are many lakes to explore near Mt. Ruskin. Ruskin is a fine class 3 rock climb, but quite exposed - not sure it would be suitable.
Day 5- go to lakes in Upper Basin west of Split Mtn
Day 6- climb Split Mountain
Day 7-8 return - either back via trail or offtrail traverse, with side trip to Cardinal Lake.
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Re: Early July-where to take them?

Postby GunnyJC » Sat May 14, 2011 10:36 am

LOL! Yes, we are definitely leaving the ropes & climbing gear at home! I merely meant that, for them, climbing an easier summit shouldn't be an issue for them from a confidence level. They have absolutely no experience at altitude or in an alpine setting which is why I don't want to attempt anything more difficult than an easy class 3 route (i.e. routes that are primarily class 1 or 2 with possibly a small bit a class 3 involved).

The trip you laid out looks fun and climbing the class 2 north slope of Split Mtn is certainly doable although I wonder how much snow would be on it since it is north-facing. I will definitely keep that route in mind as an option, but would like to start them out at a higher elevation so they don't have as much of an uphill hike.

I've already purchased/reserved permits for us on the Cottonwood Pass Trail, but would willingly change those to another TH if needed.
Semper Fi!
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Re: Early July-where to take them?

Postby maverick » Sat May 14, 2011 11:43 am

Hi GunnyJC

I think the route you have laid out sound likes a fun trip, and well worth the try.
You probably are aware of the big snow, so just be prepared.
I have only been up Langely myself.
Plus your several years of experience as part of a Mt. Rescue puts in a position to
be able to make competent/rational decisions on the fly if need be, plus being a
former E7 in the USMC, Semper Fi, helps to!
There are also some older TR's which you can find using the search function, about
climbing some of the peaks in the Miter Basin area if I remember correctly.
These sites have routes, and TR to the peaks in the Miter region, and beyond.
http://www.snwburd.com on which Bob Burd has some route descriptions, as does
http://www.summitpost.org

By the way John, did you go to basic in SD/CP in 80, there was a guy with your initials
in my platoon.
Drill instructors were Sgt Campbell and Staff Sgt Lopez.
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: Early July-where to take them?

Postby GunnyJC » Thu May 26, 2011 2:47 pm

I've just changed my permits from Cottonwood Lakes trail to Cottonwood Pass trail since I expect there to be considerable snow on New Army Pass. Do you think the snow will be gone from the lower elevation areas of Miter Basin from the Soldier Lakes to Crabtree Pass in early July? I am planning to climb to the top of Cirque Peak once we get to Chicken Spring Lake and hopefully be able to see what the area looks like from up there.
Semper Fi!
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Re: Early July-where to take them?

Postby quentinc » Thu May 26, 2011 4:49 pm

I did Miter Basin/Langley last July 4th and there was a lot of snow starting just above Sky Blue Lake. So this year I would expect there would be a fair bit of snow in the lower part of Miter. As for NAP, forget it unless your nephews are skilled at ice axe use. Last year, climbing Langley was no problem snow-wise, but I circled back out over Cottonwood Pass.

This is what the route to Crabtree Pass looked like. It was a bit of a challenge with only hiking poles and gaiters:

Image

Image
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Re: Early July-where to take them?

Postby Mike M. » Thu May 26, 2011 4:57 pm

You will very likely see snow in the Miter basin in early July this year, but don't let it deter you. It is a beautiful area and well worth a visit, snow or not. You could set up a base camp either at Sky Blue Lake or in the gorgeous basin below it and explore for days from there.

Mike
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