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Cross Country from near Wanda Lake to McGee Lakes

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Cross Country from near Wanda Lake to McGee Lakes

Postby Limbobman » Mon Apr 23, 2012 3:20 pm

Has anyone attempted to go cross country from the small lake (11299 ft) just north of Wanda Lake over what looks like a doable col (11840 ft) and then drop down into the McGee Lakes. The col is due west of the small lake. I'm not referring to the McGee Col further north next to Sapphire Lake. I couldn't find a way from Sapphire to reach that col...really, really steep. But the walk from Wanda Lake area to the top McGee Lake doesn't look all that steep, at least on google earth. But looks can be very deceiving. Thanks.



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Re: Cross Country from near Wanda Lake to McGee Lakes

Postby maverick » Mon Apr 23, 2012 4:55 pm

Hi Limbobman,

Welcome to HST!
Yes there is a pass (11800) directly west of Lake 11293 that you can use as an
alternate route to the regular McGee Lakes Pass route (used it in conjunction
with another pass coming out from the Davis Lakes area).
MLP is a bit easier since it does not have all that talus as this pass does, but if
you're looking for something different, and still class 2, this is it.
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
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Re: Cross Country from near Wanda Lake to McGee Lakes

Postby Limbobman » Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:10 am

Thanks Maverick. Where is the starting point next to Sapphire Lake to go over the "regular" McGee Lake Col? I looked and looked when I was there a couple of years ago and could not find it anywhere along the lake. It all looked pretty much straight up to me. I bumped into the ranger and he said he had no knowledge of such a route to the McGee Lakes from Sapphire Lake. If you know where it is (long lat utm), please let me know. Maybe it really is straight up from Sapphire Lake and I just didn't recognize a plausible route. But I'd like to use it to avoid all the talus on my alternative route.
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Re: Cross Country from near Wanda Lake to McGee Lakes

Postby cgundersen » Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:44 am

Hi Limbobman,
Here is a link to photos my wife took 4 years ago (late June) when we camped at the uppermost of the McGee Lakes :
http://www.flickr.com/photos/10845599@N ... 891273719/
As the photos show, the terrain is not bad (we had some wild weather, but that's par for June). It's wide open and easy to choose a route. As Maverick pointed out, it's a bit of a grind to get down from that uppermost lake to the rest of the McGee Basin, but nothing too horrible.
Regarding the route over to McGee from closer to Sapphire, I've gone over that hump a couple times, and I started from the North and contoured into the low point. If you study the map carefully, you'll see a couple of contour lines that are spread more broadly, just below the 11,400 line; my recollection is that there is a nice band of pines on this "mini-plateau", and if you aim for them, then it's a pretty easy climb from there to the ridge. If you're really keen on this route, I can dig out more photos (there are a couple of that area in my Flickr set from last year), but they are from June and everything was covered with so much snow, it probably won't help much. Maybe others can pitch in?
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Re: Cross Country from near Wanda Lake to McGee Lakes

Postby SSSdave » Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:55 am

Difficult to discuss threads like this without a topo. Refer to the below link:

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=37.14010,-118.69453&z=15&t=T

Also:

Image

The route from Sapphire Lake starts steeply from 11100 and at the trail one cannot see the ramp that starts at 11300 and continues up to 11500. Viewing from directly below steep slopes is limiting. In map situations like that the wise person first would drop their pack off then walk over to the east side of Sapphire Lake for a better view. We went from McGee to Sapphire on the red route that I had drawn out pre trip.

On routes like that, DO NOT expect to see cairns and ducks and if one does see them, better to ignore them (because the least savvy are likely to make em) and rather navigate by map and sight alone. In this case get a magnifying glass out on a paper topo if one cannot discern why I drew the red line so. Notice how I traversed across at 11440+ instead of continuing straight down. What we saw there was steep scree for about 100 feet where the unwise had continued straight down. Beware of routes it looks like others may have used that descend straight down from passes or tightly follow water courses. Usually made by those with little map sense.

As for the route over the 10800+ col, that is certainly easier though 200 feet higher and if coming from the south on the JMT, I would choose that. Coming from the north its a balance against more mileage versus steeper and less vertical.
Last edited by SSSdave on Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cross Country from near Wanda Lake to McGee Lakes

Postby maverick » Tue Apr 24, 2012 11:21 am

This may help you get a visual along with Dave's topo post, and CG's photo.
http://sierrahiker.home.comcast.net/~si ... index.html
http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~rlilly/High_ ... _Pass.html
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
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Re: Cross Country from near Wanda Lake to McGee Lakes

Postby Limbobman » Tue Apr 24, 2012 2:46 pm

Thanks guys for all the great info. Very much appreciated! I'll look harder this time for the route. Last time I came over Lamarck Col. This time I'll be coming from the south via Bishop Pass. I was so tired after Lamarck, maybe I just didn't really try to hard to find the McGee Col route :) .
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Re: Cross Country from near Wanda Lake to McGee Lakes

Postby cgundersen » Tue Apr 24, 2012 3:21 pm

Limbobman,
I added a photo from last year to the Flickr set. It looks across frozen Sapphire Lake right at McGee Pass. You can compare the route on the map Dave posted with the photo. You'll also notice that if you're coming from Muir Pass, you can start a diagonal traverse from the South and work your way into the same chute for the final hop to the ridge.
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Re: Cross Country from near Wanda Lake to McGee Lakes

Postby RoguePhotonic » Tue Apr 24, 2012 6:37 pm

I've looked at photos across Wanda at the terrain slightly to the South of that crossing and it looks extremely easy. I myself plan to come from the South and climb to the top of that point at 12,262 for a nice view and then drop down to McGee Lakes.
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Re: Cross Country from near Wanda Lake to McGee Lakes

Postby HillBob » Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:50 am

I've crossed the saddle from Sapphire Lake to the McGee Lakes several times. If you leave the trail south of Sapphire Lake at about the 11,200 ft. level, just where it begins to descend steeply to the lake, you can contour up along benches and ledges directly northward into the pass. A short, steep gully on the north (right) side of the pass drops you down into a grassy valley that leads down to the McGee Lakes. It's easy and the footing is good.
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