Trip Advice for Kings-Kern Divide & Center Basin 9-12 | High Sierra Topix  

Trip Advice for Kings-Kern Divide & Center Basin 9-12

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

Trip Advice for Kings-Kern Divide & Center Basin 9-12

Postby acvdmlac » Wed May 09, 2012 9:06 pm

Hello,

I'm looking for advice re: 8-10 day back-pack trip that I plan to lead with a couple of friends just after Labor Day 2012. I am thinking of taking advantage of low snow year and September timing to explore Kings-Kern Divide, where I haven't been since a trip in my teen years in the early 80s, from west side over Longely Pass, but we turned back on the north side of Harrison Pass due to heavy snow.

I am a Level 3 backpacker, comfortable with Class 2 X-country passes, but not with anything requiring roped climbing, ice-ax, crampons, or self-arrest skills. My friends are in excellent physical condition from other sports, less experienced backpackers (Level 2), but we like to cover 10-15 miles/day on trail depending on elevation changes (obviously less if x-country). My max elevation gain in 1 day is 4,800' up in 12 miles on rough trail in the Pyrenees. Our main interests are high alpine scenery and physical challenge.

So, we're thinking of:

Day 1: Symmes Creek trailhead to Camp Anvil
Day 2. Acclimate at Anvil, maybe day hike to scout east side of Junction Pass
Day 3: Over Shepherd, camp/drop packs at lakes SE of Diamond Mesa, and hike to top of Mesa
Day 4: Clockwise around Upper Kern Loop trail to camp at Lake South America
Day 5: Over Harrison Pass to camp at Lake Reflection
Day 6: Down East Creek, then up Bubbs to South on JMT, camp at Golden Bear Lake in Center Basin
Day 7: Up Center Basin and over Junction Pass to Camp Anvil
Day 8: Down and out Symmes Creek trailhead

Here are my questions:

1. In September 2012, are we likely to encounter enough snow on Shepherd, Harrison or Junction Passes to require ice-ax, crampons? Or is kick-stepping w/trekking poles & wise route selection likely to be enough?

2. Which of the various x-country routes over the Kings-Kern Divide is least challenging? From reading other posts, it sounds like Harrison is easier than Milly's or Lucy's Foot Passes; I also see some references to Little Joe Pass as easier than the above, but can't determine where that is...or should we just stick to Forester, considering our collective skill level?

3. Any recommendations regarding University Pass? Topo map makes it looks pretty steep on both sides, but we're considering it as an alternate to Junction/Shepherd as an exit, if it's not too technical...hard to find information on it.

Any advice regarding the above, or just general "don't miss this" or "watch out for that" in this area would be much appreciated! :D I really appreciate all the effort people put into this forum, it's a great resource!



User avatar
acvdmlac
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Wed May 04, 2011 12:34 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice for Kings-Kern Divide & Center Basin 9-12

Postby LMBSGV » Wed May 09, 2012 9:44 pm

If it was me, I wouldn't spend a day to acclimate at Anvil, but this obviously depends on how easily you and your friends acclimate. I'd use an extra day to explore the Upper Kern. Also, I wouldn't camp at Lake South America. There are lots of more interesting off-trail lakes that are more beautiful and offer more solitude. Cross country hiking in the Upper Kern is relatively easy and endlessly fascinating.

Snow shouldn't be an issue by September. I went over Harrison around August 1 in a slightly higher snow year and there was only a large (icy) patch in the middle that was no problem avoiding. The loose rock will be really annoying going down, but less than going up, which was what I was did.

If you do a search of past posts, there are threads comparing Harrison, Lucy's, Milly's, and Little Joe with photos. Since you're headed to Lake Reflection, all three of those are a more direct route than Harrison, so I would check out those threads and decide whether your group would want to choose one of them instead of Harrison. I do have to say the route between Reflection and Harrison is a fascinating, fun hike, but it's longer. The reason I did Harrison is that I didn't want to mess with going up the talus on Lucy's and the class 3 section of Milly's. At the time I didn't know about Little Joe.
User avatar
LMBSGV
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 579
Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2007 8:42 pm
Location: San Geronimo, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice for Kings-Kern Divide & Center Basin 9-12

Postby acvdmlac » Wed May 09, 2012 10:06 pm

Thank you for your reply!

Any particular lakes you'd recommend for camping at in Upper Kern Basin over Lake South America?

I did find some posts comparing Milly's vs. Lucy's vs. Harrison; but where is Little Joe vs. these others?

I appreciate your response! :nod:
User avatar
acvdmlac
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Wed May 04, 2011 12:34 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: Trip Advice for Kings-Kern Divide & Center Basin 9-12

Postby Cross Country » Wed May 09, 2012 10:41 pm

In the Vicinity of South America I camped at the triangular looking lake pretty much at the head of the Kern River. I highly recommend it. The large lake higher and to the west of it is good too. Milestone Basin is good too. There are several other good places too. I spent significant time on 3 trips in the area and always lamented I didn't take 5 or 10 trips there. It might be my favorite place in the Sierra. Don't discount Wright, Wallace, Wales and other lakes in the vicinity either. The river is a treat too. I once took a 16 day trip over Shepard into the upper Kern Drainage. My opinion is to skip Center Basin and spend more time in my favorite place.
Cross Country
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1119
Joined: Thu Dec 24, 2009 11:16 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice for Kings-Kern Divide & Center Basin 9-12

Postby acvdmlac » Thu May 10, 2012 7:14 am

Milestone Basin is headwaters of Milestone Creek, east of Great Western Divide, different from Milestone Bowl on west side, correct?

Any info on another x-country route that I've been considering, that looks do-able from topo map: to head SE from the west side of Shepherd's Pass, along NE slope of Mount Tyndall, to Williamson Bowl, then turn back in a SW direction over the ridge between Mount Tyndall and Mount Versteeg to reach the Wright Lakes basin from the NE. The ridge looks very steep but if it's just a class 2+ talus and scree scramble I think we could handle it. Anyone know of a route or have experience here?
User avatar
acvdmlac
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Wed May 04, 2011 12:34 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Trip Advice for Kings-Kern Divide & Center Basin 9-12

Postby Hobbes » Thu May 10, 2012 7:25 am

acvdmlac wrote:Any info on another x-country route that I've been considering, that looks do-able from topo map: to head SE from the west side of Shepherd's Pass, along NE slope of Mount Tyndall, to Williamson Bowl, then turn back in a SW direction over the ridge between Mount Tyndall and Mount Versteeg to reach the Wright Lakes basin from the NE. The ridge looks very steep but if it's just a class 2+ talus and scree scramble I think we could handle it. Anyone know of a route or have experience here?


These guys did it in reverse:

http://pika.hopto.org/Tyndall_2009/index.htm

They allude to their fall-back plan of heading over Rockwell out of WLB, but they made it over to the bowl in one piece.
User avatar
Hobbes
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 678
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2011 8:09 am
Location: The OC
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice for Kings-Kern Divide & Center Basin 9-12

Postby acvdmlac » Thu May 10, 2012 7:51 am

Terrific! I love this forum! :rock:
User avatar
acvdmlac
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Wed May 04, 2011 12:34 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice for Kings-Kern Divide & Center Basin 9-12

Postby acvdmlac » Thu May 10, 2012 8:56 am

Where is Rockwell Pass? Not seeing it on my Tom Harrison...
User avatar
acvdmlac
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Wed May 04, 2011 12:34 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice for Kings-Kern Divide & Center Basin 9-12

Postby jimmeans » Thu May 10, 2012 1:30 pm

acvdmlac wrote:Where is Rockwell Pass? Not seeing it on my Tom Harrison...



11 S 378002 4056407 or N36 38 50.1 W118 21 53.2
User avatar
jimmeans
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 62
Joined: Fri May 28, 2010 6:47 am
Location: San Diego
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice for Kings-Kern Divide & Center Basin 9-12

Postby maverick » Thu May 10, 2012 1:40 pm

Hi Acvdmlac,

There is "Tyndall Col" which is the route between Williamson Bowl and the upper
part of Wright Lakes Basin above Lake 11959.
The other is "Rockwell Pass" which can be easily access by hiking down the trail
from SP about 2 miles from where you ascend toward the pass.TC is the harder
of the two. Both passes are on out HST Map here: http://www.highsierratopix.com/high-sierra-map/map.php just click on "Cross Country Passes" and then go to this area on the
map both area listed.
CC is right on about skipping Center Basin and visiting the Wallace-Wright area
instead.
Of the 5 passes on the Kern Divide, Harrison is the easiest, and would be the only
one I would consider(maybe) taking some inexperienced backpacker over.
Here is an earlier TR with pictures: viewtopic.php?f=1&p=48403
Lucys Foot and Millys Foot are for folks with a lot experience on steep terrain,
LJ I have not done, Ericsson is a little easier than LF or MF, but still over your
head with newbies.
Check out the other lakes in the Upper Kern, South America is nice, but definitely
not the highlight.
Lake 11548 near Genevra has a beautiful morning reflection in it, and the many
lakes up Milestone Creek offer some great places to explore, and see.
Shepherd should be done in 2 days as you planned, snow will not be an
issue as it can be into the mid season in some years, especially since you'll be
there in Sept.
Even being in good physical condition Shepherd (12007 ft) is long to do in one day
especially considering the length, and elevation which can bring on altitude sickness.
Better to get rest, keep hydrated until your bodies get used to the altitude.
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: 8028
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice for Kings-Kern Divide & Center Basin 9-12

Postby jimmeans » Thu May 10, 2012 1:40 pm

acvdmlac wrote:1. In September 2012, are we likely to encounter enough snow on Shepherd, Harrison or Junction Passes to require ice-ax, crampons? Or is kick-stepping w/trekking poles & wise route selection likely to be enough?



This photo shows the Shepherd Pass crossing in August 2012. No need for special equipment here.


P1140771.jpg
Shepherd Pass snowfield crossing 8/20/2011
User avatar
jimmeans
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 62
Joined: Fri May 28, 2010 6:47 am
Location: San Diego
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker

Re: Trip Advice for Kings-Kern Divide & Center Basin 9-12

Postby Cross Country » Thu May 10, 2012 9:30 pm

You might want to consider hiring a packer (highly recommended for nubies) to take you up to Anvil Camp (almost 6K feet elevation gain). You can get there by lunch and if you want to, do what we did and hike the rest of the afternoon to the lake just over the summit. My friend Joe and I visited by day hike and fished the lakes in the Williamson basin while my wife stayed with the packs (her choice) and read. I recommend it. Hiking from the summit to Wallace through Wright is (too) easy. If you stay at Wallace you might consider staying below the lake on the beautiful creek. The Lake is a natural wind tunnel. I remember Wales Lake as being very rocky. As most here know, I like trees (preferable near the timberline) and I don't remember any at Wales.
Cross Country
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1119
Joined: Thu Dec 24, 2009 11:16 am
Experience: N/A

Next

Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google Adsense [Bot] and 11 guests