Reconsidering our trip next week - advise needed | High Sierra Topix  

Reconsidering our trip next week - advise needed

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

Reconsidering our trip next week - advise needed

Postby 47energy » Thu Sep 29, 2011 10:37 am

We’re days away from was supposed to be a great trip in Dusy/Palisade/Upper Basin. I posted a thread a while back asking for your advise:
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=6664

We’ve since modified our trip to exit via Taboose. See our revised itinerary below:

Sun (10/2): South Lake to Dusy Basin
Mon (10/3): Dusy Basin to lake at head of Glacier Creek (via Knapsack & Potluck Pass)
Tue (10/4): lake at head of Glacier Creek to largest lake in Upper Basin (via Cirque & Mather Pass)
Wed (10/5): Split Mtn (summit) to 2 lakes just west of Striped Mtn
Thurs (10/6): 2 lakes just west of Striped Mtn to Taboose trailhead

But this significant weather system scheduled to hit next week sounds like the real deal. Now we are scrambling to conjure up a Plan B. Considering moving the operation south to Cottonwood Lakes/Miter Basin. Would moving ~50 miles south improve our situation? My understanding is that this system is coming down from Alaska. The further north you are the more screwed you are. Does anyone have experience with micro-climates within the Sierra? My experience in the PNW suggests that even a slight change of location (westside Olympic to their eastside) can make a huge difference. Could moving from northern Kings Canyon to southern Sequoia decrease our odds of weather even a little?

Any thoughts/suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks,
47energy



User avatar
47energy
Topix Newbie
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2011 1:42 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Reconsidering our trip next week - advise needed

Postby cgundersen » Thu Sep 29, 2011 10:54 am

47,
Based on the current Whitney summit weather forecasts, I'd not count on it. Further down the spine might help, but if you go, I'd be prepared for inclement weather. Still, an advantage of that southern entry is that you can always fall back on Cottonwood Pass for entry/exit and it's a darn sight easier than Bishop/Taboose!
cg
User avatar
cgundersen
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 655
Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2006 1:07 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Reconsidering our trip next week - advise needed

Postby no2haven » Thu Sep 29, 2011 11:57 am

By my reading of the charts (and I'm by no means an expert on any level), it looks like the stronger Wed-Thurs storm is going to slide right on down the whole Sierra, and not just clip the Tahoe/Mammoth area. There's also going to be a very strong jet associated with this storm, so it will be very windy (Reno is calling for ridge winds in the 60mph+ range ahead of the front for the Yosemite/Mammoth region).

However, since you'd be moving farther south, you might have some more time before the inclement weather gets bad - aiming to get out a day earlier on Wednesday might be a good plan since right now it really looks like Wed-Thursday is going to be nasty up in the high country.
User avatar
no2haven
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 74
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2011 2:41 pm
Location: Berkeley, CA
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Reconsidering our trip next week - advise needed

Postby 47energy » Thu Sep 29, 2011 12:35 pm

Thanks for the input. Keep it coming!!!

Another question: If you were snowed in and had to bail out (in a hurry) to the east would you rather go over Taboose or New Army Pass? I'm thinking in terms of steepness and general route finding. For that matter if New Army would be too gnarly we could plan to exit via Siberian and Cottonwood Pass if those are any better. Thoughts? I'm pretty unfamiliar with the Sierra south of Crabtree.

Shortening our above itinerary to 4 days is doable: we'd just drop Split Mtn (bummer). I certainly don't think we could increase mileage any of the days.

And if we moved everything south to Cottonwood Lakes/Miter then 4 days would be no problem.

Looking for other creative ideas.

Thanks,
47energy
User avatar
47energy
Topix Newbie
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2011 1:42 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Reconsidering our trip next week - advise needed

Postby cgundersen » Thu Sep 29, 2011 1:19 pm

47,
From the west, new Army is a long, undulating approach, while the East side is pretty precipitous and could be ugly in snow/fog. Cottonwood is easy in both directions (though folks heading up do occasionally mistake the angle at which the trail cuts off to Chicken Spring Lake and this can lead to confusion). If you can beat the storm, going into Miter Basin gives you plenty of options for peak bagging and a nice loop is to go over Crabtree Pass (just continue over the ridge from Sky Blue to Crabtree Lakes). Iridescent and Primrose Lakes are nice, slightly off-the-beaten path camping options, though you're not going to hit a lot of traffic up there. Collectively, this won't be the same degree of difficulty as your original plan, but if anywhere is going to be spared the storm, this is it.
cg
User avatar
cgundersen
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 655
Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2006 1:07 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Reconsidering our trip next week - advise needed

Postby maverick » Thu Sep 29, 2011 1:53 pm

If the weather/snow has you nervous, or your not really proficient in winter situations
or you plain do not want to deal with it, than go to Miter Basin, and keep one eye on
the sky, so once that grey, continuous blanket of clouds starts moving in, you'll
know when to bail.
Yes, Cottonwood Pass is you best exit, NA is definite no-no, especially with an Alaskan
storm moving in.
In your original post you did not mention any snow experience, and once everything is
blanketed in snow, your trip become a cross-country trip.
Temps my also fall dramatically, so you'll need warm clothing, and you better have some
decent shelter because the winds could get pretty strong.
Honestly, you may want to rethink doing this trip period at another time, unless you have
the experience, or enjoy taking chances, a storm at this time of the year, above 11000 ft is
not a good place to test ones skills.
This is if the storm happens, keep an eye on the forecast since things are changing daily.
NWS as of today:
12Z WRF AND GFS ARE INDICATING A LARGE UPPER HIGH PRESSURE CENTER
PUSHING SLOWLY EAST ACROSS THE GREAT BASIN THROUGH SATURDAY.
MEANWHILE...AN ELONGATED VORT MAX IS PROGGED TO REACH THE CENTRAL
CA COAST ON FRIDAY AND SPREAD SOME HIGH LEVEL MOISTURE INTO OUR
AREA. THERE ARE CONSIDERABLE DIFFERENCES IN THE MODELS
HOWEVER...IN HOW THEY HANDLE DEEPER MOISTURE FROM TROPICAL STORM
HILLARY CURRENTLY SITUATED NEAR 21N/120W. THE WRF HAS BEEN
INDICATING A DEEP SURGE OF MOISTURE PUSHING INTO SOCAL WHILE THE
GFS HAS BEEN KEEPING IT SUPPRESSED TO THE SOUTH. OBSERVATIONS
FROM SATELLITE AND GOES HIGH DENSITY WINDS ARE INDICATING THAT
MOST OF THE MOISTURE IS CURRENTLY PUSHING OFF EAST OF THE TROPICAL
STORM TOWARD SOUTHERN BAJA. THE 12Z GFS HAS PICKED UP ON THIS
WHILE THE 12Z NAM HAS NOT. BASED ON THIS AND HOW THE GFS HAS BEEN
HANDLING OTHER OFFSHORE FEATURES BETTER THAN THE NAM HAS BEEN THE
GFS WILL BE THE MODEL OF CHOICE IN THE SHORTER TERM ONCE AGAIN
TODAY. WITH THE GREAT BASIN RIDGE SHIFTING OFF SLOWLY TO THE EAST
THROUGH SATURDAY...AFTERNOON TEMPERATURES WILL LOWER FEW DEGREES
EACH DAY...BUT WILL REMAIN ABOVE SEASONAL NORMALS. HIGH BASED
MOISTURE...OROGRAPHIC LIFT AND INSTABILITY WILL KEEP A SLIGHT
CHANCE OF THUNDERSTORMS OVER THE MOUNTAINS AND KERN DESERTS ON
FRIDAY AND SATURDAY WITH THE BIGGEST CONCERN BEING THE POTENTIAL
FOR DRY LIGHTNING AS GFS RH PROGS ARE SHOWING THE MID LEVELS
REMAINING DRY. A STRONG PAC SHORTWAVE IS PROGGED TO PUSH INTO THE
PAC NW ON SATURDAY WHICH WILL TURN THE UPPER FLOW TO THE SOUTHWEST
WHILE BREAKING DOWN THE GREAT BASIN RIDGE BY SUNDAY. THIS WILL
OPEN THE DOOR FOR A MORE ACTIVE PATTERN ACROSS OUR AREA AS THE
MEDIUM RANGE MODELS ARE CONTINUING TO INDICATE TWO STORMS
AFFECTING OUR AREA NEXT WEEK. THE FIRST WILL BRING COOLER
TEMPERATURES AND INCREASED CLOUDS TO OUR AREA ON MONDAY NIGHT AND
TUESDAY AND POSSIBLY BRUSH AREAS FROM FRESNO COUNTY NORTHWARD WITH
SOME LIGHT PRECIPITATION. A MUCH STRONGER STORM IS EXPECTED TO
IMPACT CENTRAL CA ON WEDNESDAY AND THURSDAY AS A DEEP UPPER TROUGH
PUSHES INTO THE WESTERN CONUS. THIS SYSTEM IS EXPECTED TO BRING
SIGNIFICANT RAIN AND HIGHER ELEVATION SNOW TO OUR AREA ALONG WITH
MUCH COOLER TEMPERATURES. AM PLANNING TO INCREASE PRECIPITATION
CHANCES FOR WEDNESDAY AND THURSDAY AS THIS EVENT IS APPEARING TO
BECOME MORE OF A CERTAINTY.
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: 8033
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Reconsidering our trip next week - advise needed

Postby BrianF » Thu Sep 29, 2011 3:33 pm

Keep in mind, as posted on the October weather thread, that you have to get your car out too. Horseshoe meadows is about 10,000' Taboose trailhead 5,000', you might want to call Inyo forest service and find out what their policy is for plowing Horshoe meadows road . Cottonwood pass is easy and not technical, but neither is Taboose, Mather could be a challenge, New Army too. Also, my experience has always been that the Palisade area gets hit harder by storms than many other areas. Piute Pass is another easy one, but I wouldn't want to drive that North lake road in the snow.
South might be better weather, but if you are not comfortable in snow and route finding, best to stay lower than that
The direction you are moving in is what matters, not the place you happen to be -Colin Fletcher
User avatar
BrianF
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 283
Joined: Thu Jul 06, 2006 1:29 pm
Location: Santa Barbara,Ca
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Reconsidering our trip next week - advise needed

Postby Hobbes » Thu Sep 29, 2011 4:31 pm

Well, I hate to be a wet blanket, but the NW storm is supposed to make it to SoCal this weekend. To make matters even more interesting, there is a tropical storm that threw up some waves that is also supposed to bring showers to the desert regions this weekend.

So, if you're really lucky, you might get an early winter storm with a side helping of a tropical downpour. In those kinds of conditions, even the SoCal mountains will have weather advisories, much less the S Sierra.

If it were me, no way would I even consider such an outing, regardless of TH. (Great point by the OP - even though CW pass is a piece of cake, you still have to get off the mountain.) Personally, I would wait a few days until after the storm(s) passed by, or just cancel altogether if you can't re-schedule.
User avatar
Hobbes
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 678
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2011 8:09 am
Location: The OC
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Reconsidering our trip next week - advise needed

Postby tnewton » Thu Sep 29, 2011 4:35 pm

I can't help with weather advice, but I've been over with cottonwood, old army, new army and into mitre basin several times. We did a similar trip around mitre basin last fall, and we went over piute pass this fall. I'd say the long paved road to cottonwood trailhead would be even more scary than the shorter dirt road to north lake in the snow. My buddy wouldn't even drive the rental SUV up to cottonwood in perfect weather last year, but he may be unusual in that regard.

The nice thing about the cottonwood/miter basin area is that you have a lot of options, and the distances are not great in case you need to bail quickly. If the east side of old army is too gnarly, it's easy to get across to go down new army. And, the mitre basin has really spectacular scenery. I came upon a small herd of bighorn sheep in the meadow between upper soldier lake and old army pass about this time last year. Seeing them would be another bonus.
IMG_2347.jpg


Having said that, I would yield to the good sense advice the more local/regulars are offering here.
tnewton
User avatar
tnewton
Topix Newbie
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Aug 24, 2011 4:56 am
Location: western mass
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Reconsidering our trip next week - advise needed

Postby 47energy » Fri Oct 07, 2011 5:01 pm

Thanks for the advise everyone. We had a great trip through Miter and Crabtree Basins. Hiking out on Wednesday was very rough but we survived. Trip report w/ pics coming next week.

Thanks again,
47energy
User avatar
47energy
Topix Newbie
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2011 1:42 pm
Experience: N/A


Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot], Yahoo [Bot] and 3 guests