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SHR side trip and alternate route questions

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SHR side trip and alternate route questions

Postby urnotreal » Thu Mar 14, 2013 11:22 am

So it's mid-March, the end of the mildest Montana winter that I can remember, and I've got summer fever like you wouldn't believe. So I've decided to take off in August to tackle Roper's route. I've done a fair amount of research (book, maps, internet), but of course there are still some lingering questions. As this community has already been a great source of information, I thought I'd ask these last few directly.

1. As of now, I am traveling alone (though a number of people have expressed interest in joining for stretches) so I'm looking for ways to avoid the more dangerous passes. Is it reasonable to run Dumbell and Amphitheater Passes instead of Frozen Lake? Dumbell seems straightforward enough, but Amphitheater sounds like it may be a bit more interesting since I'll be coming down the east side (having not seen it from the bottom). Snow in general doesn't bother me, though I won't be bringing my ax. Cornices are a different story though. Also, I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but are Dumbell and Amphitheater worthy replacements for Upper Basin?

2. Speaking of difficult passes, I've decided to extend the first leg to North Lake and head out via Lamarck Col, then back in via Piute Pass. Darwin bench and Canyon look awesome on the map and it eliminates Snow Tongue. Is there anything that I need to know about routes up and over Lamarck?

3. Would dogs be able to negotiate the stretch between Piute Pass and Red's Meadow? The dogs in question would only be joining for one stretch and they're pretty good with cross country travel.

4. How is the SE Glacier route up Mt Ritter? From what I've read, it sounds pretty reasonable. Again, I'm comfortable on snow in general. However, I try to stay away from anything that requires roping up (and won't have an ax here either). Is there crevasse danger?

5. As a potential alternate, I'm thinking of ascending Mt Davis from Lake Catherine and coming down in the basin above Twin Island Lakes. Then, going over Electra and into the Lyell Fork basin>Hutchins Basin rather than Bench Canyon>Blue Lake Pass. Lyell Fork and Hutchins Basins look pretty awesome on the map, but Bench Canyon and Blue Lake Pass seem to be pretty highly regarded as well. Thoughts on this? Also, how is access to Lyell-Maclure Col from the Hutchins side? If I'm that close to Lyell, I'm probably gonna want to go stand on top of him.

6. And finally, is the last leg north of Tuolumne worth it? So far, the best I've heard is that it's "different" or "interesting" compared to the rest of the route. It also sounds like Sky Pilot may be downright dangerous, especially if rolling solo (alternate routes?). I am by no means a route purist and have no problem omitting this section if the risk outweighs the reward.

So that's it for now. Thanks to everyone on this board for all of the information I've found so far and happy (almost) spring.

Pete



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Re: SHR side trip and alternate route questions

Postby maverick » Thu Mar 14, 2013 1:38 pm

Hi Pete,

Welcome to HST! How about a little info about yourself, and your experience level.
This will allow us to give you more appropriate route suggestions based on your experience.
http://www.highsierratopix.com/communit ... f=1&t=4205
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Re: SHR side trip and alternate route questions

Postby urnotreal » Thu Mar 14, 2013 2:32 pm

Thanks for the reply. I would say that I am experienced and comfortable with trails and cross country travel up to about mid-class 3 when wearing a full pack. If a route starts requiring ropes or other protection, I'll usually stay away from it (especially when traveling alone). That said, I always carry a rope for instances where it's easier just to raise or lower my pack with it. I'm good with snow, but I don't want to carry an ice ax on this trip, and if there is potential for crevasses or unseen snowbridges, I don't want anything to do with it. As for steepness, I've used sharp rocks as protection on steepish snowfields in the past and that's about as much as I'd be willing to do on this trip. Talus is fine, even the loose stuff. I'm just not too excited about ball-bearings over steep solid ground.

As for interests, I kinda like it all. I first started going off trail to bag peaks. Now, I just prefer it to trail travel because of the freedom and solitude it offers. I certainly prefer timberline and above to forested travel and I think sub-alpine basins offer my favorite campsites. On this trip, I plan to fish, swim, photograph, and hit a number of summits along the way. Ambitious for sure, but I want to experience everything that this range has to offer. Hope this helps
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Re: SHR side trip and alternate route questions

Postby maverick » Thu Mar 14, 2013 6:59 pm

1. Assume you will going into Lakes Basin via Cartridge Pass > Dumbbell Lakes Pass >
Cataract Pass Cataract cornice should not be a big deal this year unless we get
some big storms in the next few months, even then it can be by-pass by climbing
around it, but by August it will not be an issue.
There are several TR's here on HST which you can locate by using the search
feature. Also some info on these passes here:
DLP: http://www.highsierratopix.com/communit ... =31&t=8065
CP: http://www.highsierratopix.com/communit ... =31&t=7981

2. Lamarck is easy and again there are several TR's about the pass. Here are some
example from HST and other TR's.
http://www.highsierratopix.com/communit ... col#p59004
http://www.kathywing.smugmug.com/Califo ... &k=fsSNpH5
http://www.ljhelms.com/albums/0608Evolution/index.htm

3. Would be better if you listed which particular area so folks who have dogs can
chime in.

4. http://www.summitpost.org/southeast-glacier/155688

5. The Blue Lake/Bench Canyon areas are some of the highlights of the Sierra, so
you should keep them in your plans. With that said Hutchings and especially the
Lyell Fork areas are some of the best Yosemite has to offer.
Also Old Bones Pass at Electra Peak is steep on its southern side with some cliffs
that require one to use rope so Blue Lake Pass is a better/easier alternative.

6. You can skip Sky Pilot by using McCabe Pass which is easier and allows you to
visit the pretty McCabe Lakes area. Matterhorn Canyon from Burro Pass is sublime
and Matterhorn Peak itself a fun and easy climb from Burro Pass.
McCabe Pass: HST Map
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: SHR side trip and alternate route questions

Postby John Dittli » Thu Mar 14, 2013 7:19 pm

urnotreal wrote:Is it reasonable to run Dumbell and Amphitheater Passes instead of Frozen Lake? 1. Dumbell seems straightforward enough, but Amphitheater sounds like it may be a bit more interesting since I'll be coming down the east side (having not seen it from the bottom). Snow in general doesn't bother me, though I won't be bringing my ax. Cornices are a different story though. Also, I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but are Dumbell and Amphitheater worthy replacements for Upper Basin?

2. Is there anything that I need to know about routes up and over Lamarck?

3. Would dogs be able to negotiate the stretch between Piute Pass and Red's Meadow?

4. How is the SE Glacier route up Mt Ritter? From what I've read, it sounds pretty reasonable. Again, I'm comfortable on snow in general. However, I try to stay away from anything that requires roping up (and won't have an ax here either). Is there crevasse danger?

5. As a potential alternate, I'm thinking of ascending Mt Davis from Lake Catherine and coming down in the basin above Twin Island Lakes. Then, going over Electra and into the Lyell Fork basin>Hutchins Basin rather than Bench Canyon>Blue Lake Pass. Lyell Fork and Hutchins Basins look pretty awesome on the map, but Bench Canyon and Blue Lake Pass seem to be pretty highly regarded as well. Thoughts on this? Also, how is access to Lyell-Maclure Col from the Hutchins side? If I'm that close to Lyell, I'm probably gonna want to go stand on top of him.

6. And finally, is the last leg north of Tuolumne worth it? So far, the best I've heard is that it's "different" or "interesting" compared to the rest of the route. It also sounds like Sky Pilot may be downright dangerous, especially if rolling solo (alternate routes?). I am by no means a route purist and have no problem omitting this section if the risk outweighs the reward.

So that's it for now. Thanks to everyone on this board for all of the information I've found so far and happy (almost) spring.

Pete


Hi Peter,

1. it's been close to 20 years since I've been over Dumbbell and Amphitheater, so take whatever I say with whatever. But as I remember it we had to bypass some steep hard snow on some steep hard dirt on the east side of Amphitheater. From Amphitheater Lake north there was an old trail alignment that could be followed down to Deer Meadow. Then up just a ways west of Barrett Lakes Creek to Palisade Basin. It's a good route, that said, I wouldn't especially want to miss Upper Basin.

2. Be careful when you approach Lamark from the west. It isn't the obvious col you see from the lakes but up and left around the corner. Also on the east side dont get sucked into Upper Lamark Lake when you loose the trail in the sand or you will be in talus hell

3. Don't see why not as long as you have a good talus dog

4. Ritter in no problem though there is some steep snow.

5. I've never been over Mt Davis, but I've been over two passes just to the north and I can say the terrain isn't all that forgiving. Personally I'd stick with Catherine down to Twin Island. And then if you wish to climb over the rubble heap of Electra rather than the meadows and granite slabs of Bench and Blue, you can. Does Lyell/McClure even "go"? I don't know. But I do know that the east col on Lyell goes easy right on to the "glacier". Then It's an easy walk around to the standard west ridge route.

6. Is the north end worth it? Yes! Though I've only skied "Sky Piolet Pass" so I don't know of summer dangers. But there is a nearby alt. that I haven't done and some others more distant I have, like over Excelsior or down to Upper McCabe. Also I've used three different routes over the Virginia/Spiller Divide, of those I would recommend Soldier Lake to Spiller Lake around Pk 11,529 as the nicest.

Have a good trip!

John
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Re: SHR side trip and alternate route questions

Postby RoguePhotonic » Thu Mar 14, 2013 8:04 pm

When I first set out to do the SHR I decided to take Dumbbell Pass and Cataract Creek Pass because I thought it would be more scenic. I certainly did not regret doing that as it was all amazing but I had also already done Upper Basin twice.
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Re: SHR side trip and alternate route questions

Postby snowpatch » Thu Mar 14, 2013 8:18 pm

Pete,
We did Mt Davis as a side trip. Definitely fun and worth half a day off the route. Another fun half day side trip was Black Giant. I would highly recommend these two peaks. Both easy.

I second the recommendation to include Bench Canyon and Blue Lake. If you want to do some swimming, there is an incredibly warm lake en-route, and Blue lake has a beautiful sandy beach. One of my favourite camp spots of the trip.

I do suggest two variations. Instead of descending right from Shout of Relief Pass to Tully Hole,stay high and traverse the basin to Hortense Lake. There is an amazing camp sot on the west side of the lake. I think some fishing there, but I am not a fisher, so can't recall for sure. But it sure is beautiful. Descend from Hortense to the JMT and Roper's route by staying near the outflow creek.

Another fun variation that adds more off trail exploration is to avoid Rafferty Creek trail. From the west end of Emeric Lake head north to an un-named tarn about 1 mile north. From there head NNE to Nelson Lake (good swimming and the friendliest dragon flies I have ever seen) There is a use trail from Nelson Lake to Elizabeth Lake where you hit a standard trail.

We hiked north to south and continued on to Mt Whitney. There are several variations to head south and east after resupply at Roads End. The public transportation was great on the east side. There was at the time I hiked this, a daily bus route from Reno airport down the east side of the sierra.

Dont' hesitate to get off Roper's route every now and then to explore lake basins along the way. Have fun.

Snowpatch
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Re: SHR side trip and alternate route questions

Postby oleander » Thu Mar 14, 2013 10:12 pm

We have done sections of the SHR, and our biggest regret has been not pursuing enough layover days on which to do side trips. Now it seems silly to go all the way in to the Roper high country and have no time to explore off the narrowly defined route. Glad you are not a "purist"!

Lamarck Col is very easy compared to most of the other passes. Well marked and heavily traveled. I did that pass years ago, when I had a lot less cross-country experience under my belt, and it presented no problem. As for the SHR, we have looked over the maps, have heard all about nasty Snow Tongue Pass and would have no regrets about skipping it and doing exactly as you have planned. If you do decide to go over that divide, consider Alpine Col instead of Snow Tongue. Alpine seemed the best of the various alternatives (this based on research, not on first-hand knowledge).

Take a layover day or two, to explore Grinnell Lake from the Laurel Lake area, and/or to explore the Silver Divide on the north side. (Someone mentioned Hortense Lake.) That whole divide is so beautiful, and what a waste to just rush through it when you are only going to end up on the dusty JMT with 1000 other people.

The short stretch immediately south of Reds Meadow is awful on either the JMT or the SHR. Hot dusty burned forest. You will miss nothing and will gain some nice views if you exit via the trail from Deer Lakes to Lake George (and from there take the free shuttle to Mammoth and resupply) rather than walking the SHR to Reds. From Mammoth you can take the (paid) shuttle to Reds to start the next section north.

I would not miss Lake Catherine - the waterfall route - Twin Island Lakes - Bench Canyon - Blue Lakes - the nice open walking north from Blue Lake Pass, not for anything. It is interesting and magical and different, it's a never-never land. It's also slow going (tricky route-finding) so don't try to rush through here. We do wish (again) that we'd scheduled a couple of layover days. We did divert to Ritter Lakes and that was great. Wish we'd done a layover in the Twin Island Lakes area and explored their upper basin to the north, from which I believe Electra is a Class 1 climb. I dunno, that whole mountain complex is very nice and it doesn't particularly seem to me that standing atop Lyell would be more interesting than standing atop, say, Davis or Electra. Wandering Daisy on this has explored into Hutchings Basin, and you can find her report if you search. Another nice layover possibility.

Everything downhill from Vogelsang Lake north along Rafferty Creek is boring. A wide, mostly viewless trail with a lot of people. I like the suggestion to divert to a x-country route via Nelson Lake. You can plan for that and then if you run out of time after Vogelsang Lake, Rafferty is your fast bailout to the Tuolumne food stand :)

We have not yet done the furthest north section of Roper (to Twin Lakes), but some people have told us it is among their favorite sections. One thing to take into consideration is that this segment is almost all off-trail. So if you specifically prefer the off-trail parts of Roper, this northernmost section has more of it than most.

- Elizabeth
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Re: SHR side trip and alternate route questions

Postby TehipiteTom » Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:26 am

One detour worth considering would be to add in Kid Lakes basin. Diverge from the SHR at Grouse Lake, head up to Mungoat Pass (between Munger Peak & Goat Mountain) and down to Lake 10620 (spectacular lake, great views from campsites near the outlet). Circle around to Lake 10360+, which is also a gem. You can get back to the SHR via either of two easy ways that I've done, or maybe a more difficult one that I haven't done:

1) From Lake 10360+, head NW to the spur south of Lake 10920+ and follow up the spur to a gentle crossing of the main ridgeline; descend to the upper Glacier Lake by heading north to the small tarn, then NW.

2) From Lake 10360+, head north through gentle terrain to Lake 10880+ in the North Fork Kid Creek drainage (great campsite with spectacular views). Cross at the saddle WSW of the lake, follow the obvious gully down to upper Glacier Lake.

3) I haven't tried this, but it may be feasible to go from the North Fork Kid Creek basin over to State Lakes via a number of different passes. Somebody here (cgunderson maybe?) did a route that went over the top of Dougherty Peak--he would know a lot more about this variation. ETA: Yes, it was cgunderson; his route description is here. He was coming from the lakes on the SE side of Cirque Crest, but he might have some info on how feasible a State Lakes pass would be.
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Re: SHR side trip and alternate route questions

Postby urnotreal » Fri Mar 15, 2013 3:24 pm

You guys are awesome! Thanks so much for the replies. Now it looks like I have even more to think about.
John Dittli wrote:Personally I'd stick with Catherine down to Twin Island. And then if you wish to climb over the rubble heap of Electra rather than the meadows and granite slabs of Bench and Blue, you can.

oleander wrote:I would not miss Lake Catherine - the waterfall route - Twin Island Lakes - Bench Canyon - Blue Lakes - the nice open walking north from Blue Lake Pass, not for anything. It is interesting and magical and different, it's a never-never land.

I'm sold. Looks like Bench Canyon is a must. I didn't mention it before, but dancing through meadows is actually my number one priority on this trip. I'll probably take a layover day at Twin Island and if I'm still feeling like hitting Davis and/or Electra, I can do it from there.

Great Idea on Nelson Lake. I've hiked the Rafferty Creek trail in the past and I kind of just looked at it as an exit day. It's so much nicer when the exit day is more than just a walk to the car.

Speaking of exit days, it's great to know that there is a shuttle from Lake George to Mammoth. That saves a whole day in what I'm now calling the "layover leg" of the trip. I'm already planning on at least two nights in the Bear Lakes Basin. Now I can do the same along the Silver Divide. Both of these areas look incredible (really like the idea of camping at Hortense Lake).

The Kid Lakes idea is very intriguing. I was originally going to try to include it but wasn't sure given time constraints. As of now, I'm looking at 8 days from Roads End to North Lake (carrying food for 9). I suppose with some careful packing, I could get another day's worth of food in the canister. I know I wouldn't regret it. Yep, Kid Lakes is now on the itinerary!

And thanks to some your replies, it sounds like I'll be including the Tuolumne to Twin Lakes leg as well. That one is going to require some more research (my favorite March evening pass-time). McGabe Lakes sounds like a winner, as does the pass between Soldier and Spiller Lakes.

And thanks for info on Dumbell>Cataract Creek. I think that one will be a game-time decision. Once again, I appreciate all of the responses. Your advice and suggestions so far have really got me thinking. I'm crazy excited. I've taken one month off of work already and I'm starting to think I may even need a little longer. Bosses understand these things right?
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Re: SHR side trip and alternate route questions

Postby TehipiteTom » Fri Mar 15, 2013 3:47 pm

urnotreal wrote:Both of these areas look incredible (really like the idea of camping at Hortense Lake).

Hortense Lake is gorgeous--my favorite lake in that area.
Image
The Kid Lakes idea is very intriguing. I was originally going to try to include it but wasn't sure given time constraints. As of now, I'm looking at 8 days from Roads End to North Lake (carrying food for 9). I suppose with some careful packing, I could get another day's worth of food in the canister. I know I wouldn't regret it. Yep, Kid Lakes is now on the itinerary!

You won't regret it!
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Re: SHR side trip and alternate route questions

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Mar 16, 2013 7:39 pm

I personally do not think Frozen Lake Pass is as bad as its reputation. I have gone up it once and down twice (without ice axe). As long as you avoid early season or high snow years (this year does not look like it will even get to "normal", let alone high snow) you do not even need to step on snow. I made it from Lakes Basin to the small lake on the north side of Mather Pass by 3PM - easily could have made it to outlet of Palisade Lake in a day. North side of Dumbell Pass is harder than it is rated. I doubt you could make it from Lakes Basin to Palisade Lakes in a day as easily as going over Frozen Lake Pass. I did the same section (Roads End to North Lake) in 9 days and got out before Noon. I did Echo Col?? instead of Snow Tongue (I did this pass previously and really did not like it). Camped at Goethe Lake night of Day 8. I rarely hike past 3-4 PM so it really was not that difficult -and I am an old lady! But I did make it past Grouse Lake (next valley over) on the first day. Got to Grouse Lake 1PM. Started from Roads End at 5:30 AM. It was nice and cool all the way up with that early start. The trail is one of the best graded trails I have been on- a little boring but you can make really good time.
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