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Cottonwood Pass and Snow!

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Cottonwood Pass and Snow!

Postby quentinc » Mon Jun 12, 2006 4:41 pm

I just got back from a 4 day solo trip over Cottonwood Pass. It turned out to be surprisingly easy to get over the the pass -- there was about a 30 foot snowfield towards the top of the trail that was easily negotiated.

After the pass, the PCT was mainly free from snow, with a couple notable exceptions. Climbing out of Chicken Spring Lake (love that name;)) was an ordeal, as I kept sinking into 2 - 3 feet of snow. I brought an ice axe and crampons, but never used them, as the snow was never hard enough. The extra weight did help my conditioning, I suppose, as I ended up carrying a 50 pound pack.

It was also hard to follow some of the less major trails, particularly through indistinct forest. Still, I made it most of the way up Miter Basin, and all over the Boreal Plateau. The area was incredibly beautiful with all the snow!

All in all, a spectacular trip. I saw one person the entire time, and then one bear, which came to keep me company one evening by my tent (at least until I tested out my bear whistle).



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Postby wingding » Mon Jun 12, 2006 8:26 pm

Thanks for the report quentinc. Did you go in an out over Cottonwood Pass?
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Postby Buck Forester » Tue Jun 13, 2006 12:17 am

Cool trip... into Miter Basin? Did you take any photos?
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Postby krudler » Tue Jun 13, 2006 7:38 am

Yes, yes, we must see pics! :)
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Postby quentinc » Tue Jun 13, 2006 10:08 am

Unfortunately, my partner took the digital camera to Vancouver, along with the 19 month old. :mad: So no pictures, about which I'm kicking myself, because it was so beautiful!

Kathy -- I came out over Cottonwood Pass. In a typical feat of self-inflicted difficulty, I went in over the wrong "pass" (I was x-countrying, because I hate all the switchbacks on the Cottonwood trail, and got misled by a seasonal stream), and ended up further south on the PCT. Naturally, there was a ton of deep, soft snow on that stretch, which made for an exhausting first day
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Postby Snow Nymph » Wed Jun 14, 2006 7:56 am

Thanks for the trip report! What were the night temps in that area? What kind of sleeping bag did you use (temp rating)? Trying to decide if I really need a 0 deg bag. Where did you see the bear?
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free . . . . Jim Morrison


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Postby quentinc » Wed Jun 14, 2006 8:05 am

Snow Nymph: I think one night it was probably down to 20 -- my water bottles had a lot of ice at the top and small amounts of water froze in the morning as soon as they touched anything. I have what's allegedly a 20 degree bag, but I was cold all night -- even with my down jacket on! One of my mistakes was forgetting my down booties, which I would have worn in my sleeping bag. (I camped at elevations between 10,800 and 11,500.) The one thing I'm glad I did remember: glacier goggles.

I saw the bear near the intersection of the Siberian Pass Trail and the New Army Pass trail. That's about 1/2 mile north of where the PCT intersects the Siberian Pass Trail, near a stream. The bear just came ambling from the other side of the stream -- really funny to watch. It would walk a couple steps, then stop and kind of look around (probably smelling my food), then walk a few more steps. It didn't notice me until it was about 20 feet away, and I moved slightly to reach for my whistle. Then it ran!
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Postby wingding » Wed Jun 14, 2006 8:49 am

Thanks again for the report. I'm headed up Baxter Pass Trail this weekend, but I'm not planning on going over the pass - instead I'm going to head toward Mount Mary Austin. It's nice to get an idea that I'll be able to camp on dry ground at 10,000 feet. It's supposed to be warm this weekend, but I'm struggling on if I should bring the 10 degree or the 30 degree bag.
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Postby Snow Nymph » Wed Jun 14, 2006 12:35 pm

Thanks! I'll take my 15 deg bag, and thanks for reminding me of the booties! I'm trying out my new Insulmat (http://community.webshots.com/photo/548 ... 6560mVgMrB) for the first time so that should help. My thermarest is 3/4 so with the extra length I should stay warm.

I love seeing bears! They're so cool! :D
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free . . . . Jim Morrison


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