TR: Cartridge, Dumbbell, Cataract 7/28-8/4 | High Sierra Topix  

TR: Cartridge, Dumbbell, Cataract 7/28-8/4

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TR: Cartridge, Dumbbell, Cataract 7/28-8/4

Postby phenocryst » Tue Aug 14, 2012 2:43 pm

My first post. I got great info here to plan this trip to Lake Basin and environs.. thanks, everyone! A few items of note:

Cartridge Pass: The trail on the south side is easy to follow all the way from the Muir trail to the pass with just a few obscure sections where it's damp and/or grassy. From the river up it is just as shown on the old Mt Pinchot quad. We stayed on the north side of the Kings, encountered almost no bushwhacking and only had to cross the westernmost rockslide; the trail took us around the toes of the first 2. We lost the trail west of the slide before it turns uphill but had no trouble locating it using the old map. Others mentioned a tree down across the trail at about 10,320. This marks the beginning of a traverse west, so be sure to look for the trail before continuing.

The trail is (even) steeper on the north side but still easy to follow thru loose but generally non-dangerous talus.

Dumbbell Pass: The north side is not fun. Talus blocks are disconcertingly tippy and we were glad to have a little strip of soft-ish snow left to descend on (maybe a couple hundred feet. This was about a week ago). About halfway down we were not liking the prospect of a LONG boulder traverse around the east shore of the lake. There were some vegetated ramps leading north and west over the shoulder of the ridge that projects into the lake making the "dumbbell". We followed these and found a pretty good class 2 route down to the shore just west of the ridge and past the high-angle slabs, with easy boulder hopping around to the outlet.

Cataract Creek Pass: Snow is a non-issue at this point. The descent from Observation Lake to Palisade creek was more work than getting from the pass to the lake. There is a very nice section of trail about halfway down on the west side that takes you around some cliffs and the big rockslide that dams the ponds shown on newer quads, but it fades away above and below. I had heard there was a lot of avalanche debris in the lower canyon and was concerned there might be some windfall from the big wind storm last November but there were just a couple new trees down and the older ones weren't much of an impediment.

Creeks and lakes were down a little, no problems with crossings but still lots of water. Almost zero mosquitoes.



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Re: TR: Cartridge, Dumbbell, Cataract 7/28-8/4

Postby maverick » Tue Aug 14, 2012 3:32 pm

Hi Phenocryst,

Welcome to HST! Nice TR as your first post! Did you visit Marion Lake? Did you
have a chance to visit the pretty lakes on the south eastern side of Amphitheater
Basin up towards Lake 11309?
From your route description you were doing the Cataract Pass to Amphitheater
Lake route. Did you visit Observation Lake also?
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Re: TR: Cartridge, Dumbbell, Cataract 7/28-8/4

Postby giantbrookie » Tue Aug 14, 2012 4:49 pm

Welcome aboard. I also assume by your screen name that you are a geologist? Nice route. What trailhead did you leave from and to which did you return (if you did a shuttle)? Dumbbell Lakes and environs are a very favorite spot of me and my wife. I'm glad you had an enjoyable trip.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: TR: Cartridge, Dumbbell, Cataract 7/28-8/4

Postby phenocryst » Tue Aug 14, 2012 5:30 pm

Duh!! I meant Ampitheater Lake.
We went up Taboose and out Bishop pass. Wanted to go out thru Palisade basin but the weather had us a little nervous so we took the low road thru LeConte canyon. As another bit of info, I can report that there is excellent reception of KSRW-Independence at the lake halfway up the south side of Cartridge pass and a perfect spot to hear Howard Scheckter's weather forecast on KIBS-Bishop on a bench overlooking Palisade creek at about 9600 ft on Cataract creek.
We had a nice tour of Lake Basin including Marion Lake. We crammed a little bit more into the trip after that than we really had time for and didn't get quality time in the Dumbbell or Ampitheater basins. Too much to do, as usual, but compelling reasons to return. I intend to, but probably not via Dumbbell pass.
Thanks for the welcome. No, I'm not a geologist. I just like rocks.
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Re: TR: Cartridge, Dumbbell, Cataract 7/28-8/4

Postby giantbrookie » Tue Aug 14, 2012 9:25 pm

Taboose-Bishop Pass. Nice. That's doing in the more difficult direction (because of opening day up Taboose). The all time daydream trip that I plan to do someday involves a Bishop Pass-Taboose route that will hit Dusy, the Barretts, Amphitheater, Dumbbells, Lakes Basin, Bench and some other spots. No doubt shuttling between those two trailheads really optimizes your time in this wonderful country.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: TR: Cartridge, Dumbbell, Cataract 7/28-8/4

Postby phenocryst » Thu Aug 16, 2012 6:34 am

That does sound like a dream trip. Thot I'd note that we deliberately went UP Taboose the first day so we wouldn't have to go DOWN Taboose on the last. Been there, done that! and hope I won't have to again.
I think it would have been safer to ascend than descend the unstable talus on the north side of Dumbbell pass but otherwise it was nice to stroll up the easy sides of the passes and let gravity help, not hinder, on the steep sides. All in all I would recommend the south to north option.
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Re: TR: Cartridge, Dumbbell, Cataract 7/28-8/4

Postby richlong8 » Thu Aug 16, 2012 10:28 am

Thanks for sharing. That is an area I would love to get up into someday. Any photos?
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Re: TR: Cartridge, Dumbbell, Cataract 7/28-8/4

Postby Mradford » Thu Aug 16, 2012 6:59 pm

Thanks for posting. I havent heard much other than Mavericks postings on Dumbbell and also would like to get up there one day. Not soon though, as im not quite as experienced as i think i should be to go there. I would love to see photos as well!

-mike
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Re: TR: Cartridge, Dumbbell, Cataract 7/28-8/4

Postby cgundersen » Fri Aug 17, 2012 3:23 pm

Phenocryst,
How was the air quality on your trip? We had good and bad days on a similar route earlier this year and it was especially sad to see the Palisades fade into the afternoon haze. And, how early did you start the Taboose climb? I thought it was hot in June, so were you cooking?
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Re: TR: Cartridge, Dumbbell, Cataract 7/28-8/4

Postby Cross Country » Fri Aug 17, 2012 9:05 pm

Mike, Jim and I did the trip - Bishop Pass, Amp. Dumbbell, Lake Basin Taboose (we went to Bench 5 years earlier). In several places we were hiking by far the best direction - way better. It was my favorite trip in my 500+ days of BP.
PS: Why would one choose to go up Taboose instead of down?
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Re: TR: Cartridge, Dumbbell, Cataract 7/28-8/4

Postby phenocryst » Wed Aug 22, 2012 4:39 pm

If this wasn't my favorite trip ever I can't remember what was. The only downside was not enuf time. We are slowing down a little and after getting a late start the first day wound up with no full layover days. After waiting for decades to finally be in Lake Basin (which was everything I had hoped for and more) it was truly painful to wrench myself away. If I were going to do this trip again I would allow at least 10 days.

Speaking of our start time: we knew we wouldn't make it over the pass the first day and an early start was out because my friend had to travel. We decided to try a late afternoon departure into the shadow. What with one thing and another we finally got started about 6:45 PM. This actually worked out great. The sun went behind the crest as we put our packs on and we stepped into cool (well, cooler) evening air. There is a nice (dry) campsite at about 7100 ft which we found just as darkness found us. An early start the next day made the climb about as painless as it can get.

Why go up not down? Six reasons: 2 knees, 2 ankles and 2 feet. Some of my most memorably awful moments on the trail have involved descents of Taboose and Shepherd pass... and these were years ago when I was just starting to fall apart. Now when I plan a trip involving the "big 4" or another high, steep pass I try to find another way out. Not to say we didn't have some steep descents, but they weren't 6000 feet.

Air quality was swell. This was the first week of Aug as the monsoon arrived. Blue skies, fluffy clouds, not too much thunder and no lightening until the last day. We were lucky.

I do have pics. Wasn't sure what people would want to see. I have some shots of the passes, etc, some of which are pretty good, some not so. Haven't had a lot of time to look at them as I've been hiking in northern Yosemite for the past week... but I will try to post a few sometime soon. I am new here and haven't figured out how to do that yet but I'm guessing if I look around the site there are instructions?
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Re: TR: Cartridge, Dumbbell, Cataract 7/28-8/4

Postby cgundersen » Mon Aug 27, 2012 1:17 pm

phenocryst,
There are good instructions for photo posting, but I think that all of them require you to have the photos on one of the photosharing websites, like flickr or photobucket. Being computer semi-literate, I find it can be cumbersome to post single shots. But, if you post a link to selected shots, then it's easy.
I'm envious that you had good air quality. I just came back from a pair of trips and it was mixed even after rainstorms. As for the amount-of-time issue, I can't agree more. In June, we got a couple days each in Upper Basin, Lakes Basin and Amphitheater Basin and even that was barely enough. Sadly, there are no easy ways into that area, though I may try Birch Lake access next time....
Hope you get a chance to post photos.
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