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Minarets Loop vs SHR thru hike?

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Minarets Loop vs SHR thru hike?

Postby bainhameen » Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:09 pm

I have an upcoming 5-nighter in mid-September and am debating whether to do a Minarets-Ritter Range loop (Reds to Ashley, then SHR to 1000 Island Lake and out at Agnew with side trips to Iron Mtn., Volcanic Ridge, and an attempt at Ritter via West Slopes) OR a modified SHR thru hike (Agnew to 1000 Island via High Trail, then SHR to Tuolumne with a side trip to Foerster Peak, the Lyell Fork and Hutchins Creek). I have extensive experience in the Colorado San Juans but this will be my first backpack in the High Sierra. I enjoy route-finding, solitude, scenery, and class 2+ scrambling.

Thank you in advance for your feedback!

Bainhameen



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Re: Minarets Loop vs SHR thru hike?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Aug 09, 2011 5:25 pm

I did the High Route last year and posted a report on the forum ("Granny does High Route, part II") I did Tuolumne to Devils Post Pile with an extra day to go up Hutchins Creek and an extra day to loop via Ashley, Anona, Fern on the way out. It took 7.5 days. I hit Ashley, Anona and Fern on a weekend mid August, and all lakes were really crowded with horsepackers. I actually just passed through Tuolumne so my Day 1 started about 4 miles down the trail on Rafferty Creek. The HR is definitely more challenging and gives you more solitude. I would say 5 nights is OK assuming you go directly to Superior Lake. To give yourself a bit extra time you can also go directly to Minaret Lake. I honestly thought Superior Lake and Nancy Pass were quite unpleasant although Deadhorse Lake was worth seeing. But if short on time, skipping this makes more sense than skipping Hutchins Creek which is not on the official High Route but is wonderful. Route finding from Blue Lake to Catherine Lake is quite difficult. I did it in a day but having done bits and pieces of it several times previously so really had it figured out. You also have to plan to go between Cecil Lake and Iceberg Lake after 10AM- preferably in the mid afternoon. It is steep snow and hard as a rock in AM and sun does not soften it until 10AM or later.

Bottom line, is that the High Route is a tough route. I do not know your abilities and never have been in the San Juans, so cannot extrapolate. I am a Grandma, so it really is not that physically difficult, but the route finding and off-trail travel is quite tricky. I also have had extensive mountaineering experience and it helped. But if you have the ability, I would vote for the High Route.
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Re: Minarets Loop vs SHR thru hike?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Aug 09, 2011 5:32 pm

Forgot to say- I see you said "modified" High Route. The High Route from Mineret Lake to Thousand Island Lake is a highlight of the route. It actually is not as hard as Thousand Island Lake to BLue Lake. There are a few steep snow fields to do, but you really need to be prepared this year for snow on any part of the route. I just had trekking poles, but a shoe with a good agressive tread. If you took ice axe and crampons, you then could do any of the snow at any time of the day- otherwise, with just trekking poles, you really have to hit all snow after it has softened in the morning. The high trail from Agnew will give you a nice distance view, but not up and close to Mt. Ritter and Banner. I really think if you just go directly to via Minaret Lake and can make it all the way to Iceberg Lake on Day 1, you save just as much time.
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Re: Minarets Loop vs SHR thru hike?

Postby bainhameen » Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:21 am

Wandering Daisy: Thank you for the feedback. I am familiar with your excellent SHR trip report from last year. What do you know about Adams Pass, which you opted not to use leaving Hutchins Creek? Based on your description of the willow thrash in lower Lyell, I would be inclined to go up and over to reach upper Lyell Fork, then work my way SW to the bench below Foerster/Blue Lake Pass.
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Re: Minarets Loop vs SHR thru hike?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Aug 10, 2011 7:43 am

To use Adams Pass you also have to go over Slugo Pass. The north side of Suggo Pass will likely be snow covered this year. I did it before when snow covered and I did not have an ice axe but had to divert east over difficult slippery slabs. If you have an ice axe you can go directly up the snow gully that leads to the pass. I have not been over Adams Pass. I instead came over a pass farther down the ridge, probably never done before, that was not the greatest and I would not recommend that either. If you want to also see the upper Lyell Creek the route via Sluggo and Adams is good. You would have to add a day to your schedule to really justify this route.

You can easily avoid the bushwhaking, by staying high (north) on the slabs when you descend Hutchins Creek. If you still get caught in the joint slot, take the time to cross it. If you follow the joint system down to the creek you will end up in brusy stuff.
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Re: Minarets Loop vs SHR thru hike?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Aug 10, 2011 7:45 am

Sorry- forgot to say, that you have to do Sluggo Pass if you intend to go from Hutchins Lakes to Adams Pass. You could go down Adams pass and then continue down Lyell Creek to the trail if you skipped Hutchins Lakes.
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Re: Minarets Loop vs SHR thru hike?

Postby bainhameen » Wed Aug 10, 2011 7:49 pm

Thanks again WD. I noticed that you were quite fond of your impromptu camp site at King Creek on your way out to DP last year. We will be getting a late start on our first day out of DP and will be looking for something 2-4 miles in. The King Creek site is a possibility, but if we opt for the Minaret Creek trail, do you have any recommendations? It sounds like the basin below Deadhorse and Minaret Lakes would be a good option if can get that far.
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Re: Minarets Loop vs SHR thru hike?

Postby cgundersen » Thu Aug 11, 2011 10:05 am

bainhameen,
I'm about to leave on an 8 day trip, but I thought you'd maybe benefit from the commentary and a peek at photos taken by my wife during a high loop we made with Lyell Peak at the center. The TR and photos were posted in late September of 2007 and include shots in the Hutchings Creek basin and the Lyell fork of the Merced (from Sluggo pass). It's a spectacular area; hope you enjoy it! Also, I think Tina Sun posted a report of having gone through that area, too (with photos).
cg
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Re: Minarets Loop vs SHR thru hike?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:09 am

With your short time frame, you do not want to go via King Creek. You want to take a straight shot to Minaret Lake. There is plenty of camping along the Minaret Trail. If you can possibley make it to Minaret Lake (really quite easy), it is a much more spectacular campsite. There is good camping near the outlet. It is well worth it to push to get there, even if you arrive at dusk. The morning sunrise view is not to be missed.
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Re: Minarets Loop vs SHR thru hike?

Postby ManOfTooManySports » Thu Aug 11, 2011 6:59 pm

We had a good campsite at the non-outlet side of Minaret Lake, as well. Definitely worth going all the way there if you can make it.
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