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rate Ropers sierra high route passes

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rate Ropers sierra high route passes

Postby Gazelle » Sat Mar 24, 2012 11:43 am

I would like to know the hardest passes rated hardest to less hard on the sierra high route. I realize snow conditions make a difference, but would like to know why you thought it was hard (scary), and which direction you were going? Also if you went around say snow tongue what route did you take and the difficulty of it? I plan on doing some sections this year probably a low snow year, thanks
The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before. Albert Einstein



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Re: rate Ropers sierra high route passes

Postby RoguePhotonic » Sat Mar 24, 2012 2:07 pm

There are only 3 passes that are considered harder or scary and I haven't done them yet. The only thing I can speak of is taking Alpine Col instead of Snow Tongue. That route is not difficult but is tedious due to lots of boulder hoping on it's North side.
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Re: rate Ropers sierra high route passes

Postby Carne_DelMuerto » Sat Mar 24, 2012 2:16 pm

Welcome to the forums. Members here may be more inclined to offer advice if you can follow the guidelines posted here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=4205.
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Re: rate Ropers sierra high route passes

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Mar 24, 2012 3:04 pm

Everyone has a different opinion. My list probably is different from others.

Sky Pilot- north-to-south - VERY scary! steep hard dirt with ballbearing sand. Fall and you die. I have used a detour on a day hike previously -- from north, go left and traverse lots of unpleasant boulders until you can to over the ridge. This drops you into the valley below Sky Pilot pass. Unpleasant but safe.

Snow Tongue north-to-south- short but dangerous- north side was steep and very unstable, plenty of boulder hopping once down to Wahoo Lakes. Detoured via Alpine Col when going south-north. Lots of rock hopping and route finding- but I hit it right and only took 3 hours from pass to Goethe lake outlet. Be sure to go on the left side. It is longer, but easier.

Frozen Lake- have gone both ways. Tedious. Both times were snow-free up top and some snow just above Frozen Lake. West side tedious but no issue. The moraine below Frozen Lake (east side) has some loose sections. Second time I stayed more on north side and found the boulders more stable.

Brown Bear Pass, east to west. Did just what guide said-aimed for the bushes but must have hit the bushes in the wrong place because going down from there was really steep with some jungle gymnastics through the brush.

Nancy Pass, north-to-south. I missed the route and it was highly miserable. I still have no idea where the pass actually is located!

Cirque Pass- north-to-south and south-to-north. Going north, detoured up the east slopes then traversed to the little lake mid-way up the pass. Mainly route finding issues. I avoided the regular route because it said it was slabs and it was raining so I was worried about wet slabs.

Stanton, north to south - I detoured via Spiller Lake due to snow and ice on Stanton. The detour was longer. There are game trails above the outlet of Spiller Lk, up over the ridge. Some nasty brush from Soldier Lake to Virgina Creek.

Feather Pass, east to west. West side had steep snow that was icy. Stayed in center of gully and ended up in some house-sized boulders. Looked better to stay on the north side of the descent gully.

White Bark - one very steep section, north side, if all snow, can be difficult. I climbed a little broken chimney that was free of snow. A bit difficult with the pack.

North Glacier (Catherine Lk to Thousand Is.Lk) - route finding is tricky. Going up from Thousand Island Lake, you tend to be lead astray by easy grassy ramps that send you too far north when you reach the actual pass. There is actually a use-trail over the pass if you can find it.

Iceberg Lk - Ceicle Lake - steep snow- best to go over after noon so snow is soft. The sun does not hit the snow until 10AM.

Most of the passes are an issue of route-finding. If you hit it right, no problems. I did the entire route in a fairly high snow year so encountered quite a few short to steep icy sections that I had to detour around. I had trekking poles but no ice axe or crampons. Crampons would have made a few passes easier, but not worth the extra weight. Twice I had to sit for 2 hours waiting for the snow to soften.
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Re: rate Ropers sierra high route passes

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Mar 24, 2012 3:08 pm

One qualifier to my above list. I am an experienced mountaineer and have been up numerous Sierra Passes harder than those on the High Route.

IF you only have backpacking expeirence on trails, you WILL find almost ALL the passes HARD! IF you have not done off-trail travel and IF you are not an expert route-finder -- you will find the entire High Route difficult. I would say that good route-finding is the key to the entire route.
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Re: rate Ropers sierra high route passes

Postby Gazelle » Sat Mar 24, 2012 8:28 pm

Thank you for your reply (WD)that was what I was looking for. As to my experience backpacking it has been on trail and off trail (prefer as I like to see minimal people) most of it solo. I have also been a rock climber so I understand well the rating system. I have read almost anything I can find on the passes and the route involved from this site(all of wandering Daisy's), Ropers book, Backpacking light , Shurkka (spelling?) and others summit post etc. I do have TOPO so I know the elevation gains and loses. I just have not done these passes and wanted an opinion of what people who have done them think of them. So thank you for your input as I may want someone to come with me and do not want to sandbag them, sandbagging myself I can deal with. I live on Donner Summit and am well versed on snow travel and would probably prefer it but not the case for most people.

Thanks again
The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before. Albert Einstein
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Re: rate Ropers sierra high route passes

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Sat Mar 24, 2012 10:44 pm

White, Red and Grey are all easy.

Roper has a weird way of going up Nancy Pass from the North or going north from the pass. There is a much easier way. From the south getting to the pass is no problem. Getting down or up from the north side is much easier to/from the meadow below the pass. Follow the dotted lines:
http://www.doylewdonehoo.com/minaret/minaret035.htm
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http://www.doylewdonehoo.com" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: rate Ropers sierra high route passes

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Mar 25, 2012 9:52 am

I have come to rely less on guidebook descriptions. What happens is that one person goes up a pass, writes it up, then everyone goes the same way. Pretty soon, that is "THE WAY" to go. Few people, including guidebook authors, spend time to really explore many options to find the really best route. Nothing beats on-the-spot good route-finding. I used to have a little monocular to check out routes. Unfortunately I lost it.

Although I read plenty of information on the alternative route up Nancy Pass that Doyle refers to when I was there, I still missed it due to conditions. I was going north-to-south, the mosquitoes were viscious, and I had a head net on, early morning sun was in my eyes, I could hardly see. So, in frustration, I just headed uphill to get out of the mosquitoes. By the time I got high enough to get out of the head net, I realized I was in the wrong spot, but did not want to bother to traverse or go back down. In fact I had several route-finding errors that day. On any long route you will just have a few days like this, where nothing goes right. Luckily, things usually are better the next day! I just chalk this up to being human and do not beat up myself for yesterday's mistakes.
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Re: rate Ropers sierra high route passes

Postby Cross Country » Sun Mar 25, 2012 10:46 pm

Speaking of tough passes, I found Lucy's foot pass a bit scary, probably because I went south to north and I was hiking solo (which is still less threatening than hiking with a kid because you're worried about him, or her).
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Re: rate Ropers sierra high route passes

Postby richlong8 » Tue Mar 27, 2012 1:53 pm

I used to have a little monocular to check out routes. Unfortunately I lost it.


I always carry this little "golf scope" in one of my pockets. It is small, light, was cheap, and actually has yardage marks on it. I don't know if Radio Shack still carries them, but it is really handy for scoping out possible routes from a distance. For me the challenge with cross country has always been, not if I get off the exact route of a guidebook, but how do I react when I am off-course, and how do I safely get to where I want to go when I screw up my routefinding.
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Re: rate Ropers sierra high route passes

Postby Gazelle » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:21 pm

Thanks again for the information I was considering buying a light weight monocular might have to look into a golf scope as well. For day hikes etc where weight is not such a concern I like to take binoculars to see the terrain in front/around me it can be very helpful.
The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before. Albert Einstein
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Re: rate Ropers sierra high route passes

Postby paul » Wed Mar 28, 2012 7:47 pm

Can only elucidate on a Stanton bypass - if N-S, then you go up to the little lake north of Spiller Lake, then to Spiller Lake, cross the outlet and go straight up from the outlet up a sort of rounded ridge to the shoulder of the litle peak just southeast of Spiller Lake. Cross the sloping plateau and drop over into the little bowl to the east, but not too low because you want to head for Soldier Lake. From Soldier, don't try to go right down to Return Creek; instead, head over the little saddle to Return Lake - it's a nice stroll and from there it's easy walking down to return creek.
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