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Snow-Tongue Pass: What is the workaround?

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Re: Snow-Tongue Pass: What is the workaround?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Jan 06, 2012 10:47 am

Our various experiences on Snow Tongue brings up a point about slope stability. Some climbers were killed a few years back in the Little Lakes Basin when they got on a saturated slope and it turned into a big landslide. Snow Tongue was saturated when I did it and felt like it may totally slide any minute. I did not realize how bad it was until I was over half way up so decided to continue up quickly rathern than go down, with the idea that the higher I got the less debris would fall on me. Similar scenarios are possible on other High Route passes. These conditions can also occur immediately after a large rainstorm. Everyone who does the High Route should have safer detour routes already figured out for the crux passes in case of poor conditions (including lightning storms) and should build in some contingency. Sometimes you simply need to retreat or stay put until conditions improve. You should never feel forced to go over an unsafe pass just because you are running low on rations.

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Re: Snow-Tongue Pass: What is the workaround?

Postby SSSdave » Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:10 pm

There is talus and then there is really huge talus. And the really huge can be really dangerous.

One needs to take any assessment of long slogs through large talus with a large grain of salt. That is because it is highly unlikely routes are going to be consistent from group to group. A route just a dozen yards to the side of another's route can me considerably more difficult or easier. And groups move through the the Goethe talus over several different routes. Thus one person might not think they had such a difficult time simply because of the lucky route they found in front of them.

There are some rather ugly areas of talus and loose rock glacier between the pass and the lake edge. Avoiding those sections in not always obvious from above or below. That whole zone is a giant obstacle course. Generally travel through large talus is maybe the most dangerous terrain type backpackers go through. Falling between huge boulders is frequently dangerous enough to easily cause serious injury or even death if one hits their head. Many moves have no choice but to be made dynamically through sections instead of small steps at a time. And the heavier ones pack the more dangerous the task becomes.
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