Pioneer Basin: Anyone been up there recently? | High Sierra Topix  

Pioneer Basin: Anyone been up there recently?

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!
User avatar

Pioneer Basin: Anyone been up there recently?

Postby heuer2020 » Sat Jul 23, 2011 9:30 pm

I have a permit reservation for Pioneer Basin, departing on July 30th from Mosquito Flat, hiking back out on Wednesday Aug 4th. Our plan is to stay at Ruby Lake on Saturday, then head over Mono Pass and into Pioneer Basin on Sunday, explore the area for a few days, then return by the same route. I made our reservation months ago, and like everyone else, I have been watching conditions and waiting to see if an itinerary adjustment would be necessary. I hope not, because Pioneer Basin has been a dream destination for a long time.

I have never done this route before, but I have a great deal of backcountry experience (entire JMT in 2006, many other shorter trips in the Sierra). Most of the people in my group have 2-3 trips under their belts, and we will have three dogs with us. Our primary goals would be: explore the lakes, relax, fish, and take lots of pictures while we are out there.

Has anyone been over Mono Pass lately? If the trail is snow covered to the point where traction devices, self-arrest skills, and off-trail navigation skills are necessary, then I want to choose another route for our group. We can deal with patches of snow and suncups, but we are not hard-core mountaineers. Just want to make sure I'm not taking the group into treacherous conditions. Any input would be appreciated - thanks!



User avatar
heuer2020
Topix Newbie
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2011 7:58 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Pioneer Basin: Anyone been up there recently?

Postby maverick » Sun Jul 24, 2011 12:42 pm

Hi Heuer2020

Welcome to HST!
This trip is too early this year, especially since you voiced your reluctance with wanting
to deal with snow.
Mono Pass is at 12000 ft, and the whole descent will probably have a lot of snow with
Summit Lake, and Trail Lakes probably will still be frozen, if you wait till the snow has
softened, and use hiking poles, than it is doable, but you will not be moving very fast
over this terrain.
Ruby is a little over 11000 ft, and probably frozen or just starting to thaw.
Pioneer Lakes are in the 10800 ft elevation, some lower, some higher, so you will have
some snow, but it is exposed to the south, and western sun, which means there should
be some dry islands to camp, the higher lakes may be frozen.
Climbed a peak west of Mono Pass above 4th Recess Lake, and Snow Lakes, and
from here you get a cool all encompassing view of Pioneer Basin, and beyond
(Taken Sept. 2010). http://WildernessApertures.com/img/v9/p212328515-6.jpg
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
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8049
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Pioneer Basin: Anyone been up there recently?

Postby Carne_DelMuerto » Sun Jul 24, 2011 12:43 pm

Welcome to HST. Here's a report from earlier this month that includes the Laurel Creek Canyon area: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=6534

It's not quite the area you are headed, but it's close enough to give you an idea of conditions about 3 weeks ago.
Wonder is rock and water and the life that lives in-between.
User avatar
Carne_DelMuerto
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 296
Joined: Sun Nov 28, 2010 12:43 am
Location: Auburn, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Pioneer Basin: Anyone been up there recently?

Postby Mike M. » Sun Jul 24, 2011 7:55 pm

heuer2020:

I have not read any recent first-hand accounts for this year. This area is a favorite of mine. My guess is that Ruby Lake will still have some ice in it on July 30th this year and there will be some snow on the switchbacks leading to the pass. This route is not technical in any way and as long as you are willing to slog through snow on the well-defined trail, you should be fine. (Horse packers use this route, so the trail should be easy to navigate all the way to the pass and then down to Mono Creek). There is no need for an ice axe or traction devices. Pioneer Basin is gorgeous and the trail leading up to it from Mono Creek will be free of snow. But beware of skeeters in Pioneer Basin -- they are likely to be out in force.

I encourage you to give the route a try and then post a trail report!

Mike
User avatar
Mike M.
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 475
Joined: Fri May 25, 2007 10:50 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Pioneer Basin: Anyone been up there recently?

Postby heuer2020 » Sun Jul 24, 2011 9:43 pm

Thank you very much for the input! I'll be sure to post an update when we return, including any route modifications that were chosen. I'd really like to try to go for it, but we'll be flexible and make smart decisions.

Here is a link to some photos from the same time last year. I realize this isn't a perfect comparison because 2011 was a bigger year for snow than 2010, but the snow levels shown here are encouraging.
http://www.openhorizonsphoto.com/2010/T ... 4689_QSgkB

I really hope this week flies by. Can't wait to get out there!
User avatar
heuer2020
Topix Newbie
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2011 7:58 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Pioneer Basin: Anyone been up there recently?

Postby Mike M. » Sun Jul 24, 2011 10:29 pm

Heuer, check out my trip report from an early July hike in 1978, beginning at Mono Pass:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=5093

This too was a very heavy snow year, comparable to 2011. Note the Ruby Lake photo. I believe you will find Ruby Lake just about melted out when you hit the trail, with patches of snow on the trail above to the pass.

Good luck -- can't wait to see your photos.

Mike
User avatar
Mike M.
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 475
Joined: Fri May 25, 2007 10:50 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Pioneer Basin: Anyone been up there recently?

Postby Mike M. » Tue Jul 26, 2011 10:58 am

Heuer, see this link for a photo of Ruby Lake, taken in the last few days:

http://www.whitneyportalstore.com/forum ... #Post85816

The lake is almost completely melted out, and it looks like there is very little snow left on the Mono Pass trail. (The hiker did not go up to Mono Pass, but took pictures looking back toward Mono Pass from Morgan Pass.)

Looks like you are good to go!

Mike
User avatar
Mike M.
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 475
Joined: Fri May 25, 2007 10:50 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Pioneer Basin: Anyone been up there recently?

Postby heuer2020 » Tue Jul 26, 2011 11:46 am

Hi Mike,

Awesome, thanks for sharing the trip report. That looks very manageable. I like how she says she was "compulsively" reading other snow reports before her trip...that sounds familiar. :-) Wish we could just leave now!

Lisa
User avatar
heuer2020
Topix Newbie
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2011 7:58 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Pioneer Basin: Anyone been up there recently?

Postby Mike M. » Tue Jul 26, 2011 12:25 pm

Yeah, I am doing that for sure. I hit the trail August 3rd, going in at New Army Pass and headed eventually over to the Milestone/Triple Divide area. It's the skeeters that have me worried!

Mike
User avatar
Mike M.
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 475
Joined: Fri May 25, 2007 10:50 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Pioneer Basin: Anyone been up there recently?

Postby heuer2020 » Sun Aug 21, 2011 8:57 pm

Hi Mike, how did your trip turn out? We had a fantastic time in the Rock Creek area, but our group had to drastically modify our plan. Big storms hit early during the first two days, and they kept us from attempting Mono Pass. We ultimately stayed at Ruby Lake as a base camp, exploring the local area with day hikes. The scenery was fantastic and we hope to go back in the fall so that we can go all the way into Pioneer Basin. Hope you had a good time too. Lisa
User avatar
heuer2020
Topix Newbie
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2011 7:58 pm
Experience: N/A


Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google Adsense [Bot], Quercus23, sekihiker, Yahoo [Bot] and 19 guests