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Mineral King Loop question - Big Five Lakes and Sawtooth

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Mineral King Loop question - Big Five Lakes and Sawtooth

Postby ccessna » Sat May 19, 2012 10:34 am

I'm considering a mid-July loop out of Mineral King, and had some questions about cross country possibilities. We are a group with backcountry experience, but minimal route finding experience. We were considering a 5 day clockwise loop towards Pinto Lake, Little and Big Five, then Sawtooth Pass and Peak.
I've read where some have gone cross country to miss the drop down from Timber Gap. Does anyone have information on this and how manageable it is?
Also, I was wondering how possible a cross country route would be from the Upper Big Five Lakes towards Spring and Cyclamen Lake. There seems to be a pass around 11000 between those areas, and I wondered if anyone has knowledge of that area.
Thank you for any info!



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Mineral King Loop question - Big Five Lakes and Sawtooth

Postby ccessna » Sat May 19, 2012 10:39 am

Sorry! Tried this from my phone and accidentally went to the wrong forum... Although we do plan on heading up Sawtooth Peak which is a bit more relevant to this forum.
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Re: Mineral King Loop question - Big Five Lakes and Sawtooth

Postby RoguePhotonic » Sat May 19, 2012 11:40 am

I don't personally know of any route that could take you onto Timber Gap and then on to Pinto Lake without dropping down.

The Pass from Big Five Lakes your looking at is called Cyclemen Pass. Before you consider any sort of cross country pass you need to consider your own abilities and everyone in your party.

What sort of cross country travel have you engaged in before?

That pass is class 3. Do you know what class 3 is and have you done any of it?
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Re: Mineral King Loop question - Big Five Lakes and Sawtooth

Postby copeg » Sat May 19, 2012 12:14 pm

ccessna wrote:Sorry! Tried this from my phone and accidentally went to the wrong forum... Although we do plan on heading up Sawtooth Peak which is a bit more relevant to this forum.


I removed the duplicate post, and moved this to Backpacking/Hiking/Camping - possibly more relevant section for your question
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Re: Mineral King Loop question - Big Five Lakes and Sawtooth

Postby maverick » Sat May 19, 2012 12:29 pm

Hi Ccessna,

Welcome to HST!
Please read this: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=420
The two passes your inquiring about are class 3, and require solid experience with
crosscountry passes.
The only way to avoid the Timber Gap is to use Glacier Pass from Spring Lake which
is below Black Rock Pass, and this connects one up with the Sawtooth Pass Trail and back
down to Mineral King.
Use the search feature above this section to get info on this area, but you must evaluate
your own experience level and the rest of your groups before taking on such sections.
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: Mineral King Loop question - Big Five Lakes and Sawtooth

Postby lambertiana » Sat May 19, 2012 8:58 pm

Maybe I'll run into you there, I plan to do Sawtooth July 20 as one of my warmup hikes before the big trip this year. It's been five years since I was on top. I like to do the loop from lower Monarch Lake - up to Sawtooth Pass, then to the summit, descend the SW ridge to Upper Monarch Lake. It is one of my favorite summits, one of the few where you really feel like you are on top of something. Nothing like the broad expanse of Whitney or Half Dome.
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Re: Mineral King Loop question - Big Five Lakes and Sawtooth

Postby oleander » Sun May 20, 2012 9:07 am

Hi,

Mineral King is plenty rugged, steep and challenging even if you just stick to the trails. In fact it is the most rugged westside trailed entry I can think of in the Sierra. I never go there as my very first trip of the season, because all the constant elevation/gain loss is difficult if you're not completely in shape/acclimated. My point is that you do not need to add x-country to make Mineral King a nice challenge, and the x-country routes you happened to mention could easily exceed the abilities of some people in your group.

Cyclamen Pass was described by Secor as so tedious that it was easier just to take the trail all the way around via Lost Valley (which is very pretty by the way).

Glacier Pass, I personally wouldn't do early season, I'd wait for the snow on the north side to substantially melt. (Haven't done it - just eyeballed it - looks very steep to me.)

Last year, someone posted on here asking about those same x-country routes. His party did not even make it to the top of the unmaintained trail to Sawtooth Pass, they found it too steep and bailed on the trip. You might be a lot more experienced, I'm just making the point that in this part of SEKI you do not need to go looking for ways to add difficulty.

There is however an easy x-country hop from the upper Little Five Lake into the Big Five Lakes basin. That is a prettier way than the trail, to get from Little Five into Big Five Lakes. However, if you have 5 days, camping at one of the Little Five Lakes and doing a dayhike up towards Nine Lakes Basin and/or x-country to some of the lakes around there would make a great layover day.

If you wind up with extra time, another thing to do is to go around to Crystal Lakes after descending Sawtooth Pass. Camp above the upper lake, you'll have it all to yourself.

I personally love the loop you'll be doing; one of my favorite short loops in the Sierra.

- Elizabeth
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