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Trip Advice: SHR the 3rd week of June 2013?

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Trip Advice: SHR the 3rd week of June 2013?

Postby Bluewater » Tue Jun 04, 2013 9:11 pm

Many thanks to everyone who has generously shared their experience in the Sierra. After discovering HST a few years ago I've been a lot more comfortable exploring new areas.

Due to some last minute scheduling changes at home I have a 10 day window during the 3rd week of June to do some more of the SHR. I have been considering rejoining the route in Humpreys Basin via Piute Pass and exiting at Mammoth Pass.

The 10 days is all backcountry time. The shuttle logistics will be done before.

Although it has been a low snow year some of the condition reports I've read lately seem to indicate it might be a little sketchy to give this a try in mid/late June (3rd week). I'm most concerned about the north side of the higher passes like Feather, Gabbot, Bighorn and Shout of Relief.

Does anyone have experience in these areas under the conditions similar to what we might expect this mid/late June?

I'm comfortable with trail and/or x-country travel including class 3 terrain/pass/x-country, river crossings and I have cross country snowshoe experience. I use trekking poles and I have used them to self arrest on very steep ice slopes and for 'controlled glissading' but I do not have crampon or ice axe experience. I am comfortable climbing with microspikes.

Any help or advice would be very much appreciated.

Thanks, Andy.



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Re: Trip Advice: SHR the 3rd week of June 2013?

Postby Ska-T » Wed Jun 05, 2013 12:30 am

Bluewater wrote:Does anyone have experience in these areas under the conditions similar to what we might expect this mid/late June?

Not me. I have experience at that time of year or earlier, but not in that location. I've been on that route later in the year.

Shout-of-Relief-Pass is gentle on the north side and shouldn't be a problem. There are other potential snow spots to mention. White Bear Pass is fairly steep, northwest facing, and partially shaded. Same for parts of the Second Recess. The slope west of Cotton Lake down to Izaack Walton Lake is steep and shaded, although west facing.

If it were me I'd take a chance with crampons and trekking poles. Just time the snow crossing when it isn't rock hard. The difficult passes are in the first half of the trip so if you can't get thru you could always bail out early. Easy for me to say.

-Scott
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Trip Advice: SHR the 3rd week of June 2013?

Postby Bluewater » Wed Jun 05, 2013 8:57 am

Thanks Scott. I am going to start looking at different crampons. . . Or possibly save this trip until I can go later in the season.
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Re: Trip Advice: SHR the 3rd week of June 2013?

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Jun 05, 2013 9:22 am

Looking forward to pictures since i have been contemplating an adventure in that area later in the year.....

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Re: Trip Advice: SHR the 3rd week of June 2013?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Jun 05, 2013 9:56 am

Crampons in and of themselves, will not keep you safe. Full size crampons take some getting used to in order to keep from tripping or stabbing yourself. I suggest you spend an afternoon minimum playing with your crampons on a snow slope with a good run-out and of the same steepness that you anticipate on the SHR trip. Crampons, if you know how to use them, will allow you to stick on snow and steeper slopes, BUT, if you do fall they are of no help. A big problem with crampons is snow balling up under the arch. Under these conditions crampons are more dangerous than going without. Micro-spikes are good on icy snow at lower angles but insufficient for steep icy snow.

Often I am comfortable on a steep snow slope only without the pack on my back. I have a 100-foot line (parachute cord) that I use and lower my pack ahead of my descent. Going up steep snow is easier (discounting the work of elevation gain) than going down for me. I have a tendency to slip a lot more going down. I get better foot purchase going up. One reason I went north-to-south on my SHR trip was that I rather go up more difficult terrain than down. Most of the difficult (steep, snowy) sides of passes are on the north side.

White Bear Pass could be unsafe. It is very steep. But you could instead turn north and go over Dancing Bear Pass and intersect the trail to Italy Lake. This pass is not as steep. If you miss the trail, however, there are lots of huge rocks to hop around Jumble Lake. The trail actually goes well above the lake. Spend enough time to really find the trail.
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Re: Trip Advice: SHR the 3rd week of June 2013?

Postby maverick » Wed Jun 05, 2013 10:18 am

Timing these passes as mention in a the previous post is very important. Feather
Pass can be steep and dangerous with snow, as can the snow field on Shout for
Relief Pass when icy, which is the reason one needs to approach steep or hard
snow/icy sections around noon time or be proficient with an ice axe and crampons.
As WD mentions these tools in the hands of an inexperienced person are more of
a liability and down right dangerous than help.
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Trip Advice: SHR the 3rd week of June 2013?

Postby Bluewater » Wed Jun 05, 2013 11:47 am

Thanks almosthere, wandering daisy and maverick. I am familiar with dancing bear pass and will use that as a safer option. Waiting until noon for better conditions won't be a problem. I have plenty of flexibility built-in to the overall schedule.

With no experience using crampons I think it might be safer to leave them for a different trip. Hopefully by timing the snow sections right it will be ok. If it ever gets uncomfortable/unpassable I can always modify the route as needed.

Thanx again for your input.
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Re: Trip Advice: SHR the 3rd week of June 2013?

Postby maverick » Wed Jun 05, 2013 12:10 pm

You may want to also consider Ruskie over Feather Pass, it only has a short steep
section on the approach from Merriam Lake.
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Trip Advice: SHR the 3rd week of June 2013?

Postby Bluewater » Wed Jun 05, 2013 1:28 pm

Ok, thanks maverick! I hadn't considered Ruskie Pass. It looks less steep on the topo, and the east/west facing slopes may not be holding as much snow. I've read about the beautiful lakes in that part of the basin (Vee and Seven Gables among others), spending some extra time there would be a welcome alternative.

That leaves crossing the Silver Divide at Shout of Relief Pass as the remaining steep north/south facing pass. This is assuming that the north side of Gabbot Pass is as moderate as it looks on the topo, and from the photos I've seen online. If SOR Pass looks bad I could probably follow the drainage from Bighorn Lake down to Mott Lake and eventually join the JMT. . . or backtrack.
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Re: Trip Advice: SHR the 3rd week of June 2013?

Postby Ska-T » Wed Jun 05, 2013 1:52 pm

Gabbot is more narrow that Shout-of-Relief and is in the partial shade of Abbot and Gabb. SOR is wider and less shaded. If you negotiate Gabbot OK then I doubt you will have trouble with SOR. But that is only my guess as I haven't been to either early season. Late season without snow I did Rohn Pass (just north of Bighorn Lake) and SOR Pass during the same lunch break and both were easier, or at least no harder, than Gabbot.
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Trip Advice: SHR the 3rd week of June 2013?

Postby Bluewater » Wed Jun 05, 2013 3:13 pm

Thanks Scott! I checked out Rohn Pass on Google Earth and marked it as an alternative on my topo map. Cotton Lake and Tully Lake on the north side look beautiful and worth the effort.

I haven't found an alternate to Gabbot, and I have been looking forward to camping around the Mills Creek Lakes. I will just see how it goes and go around if needed.

Any recommendations for especially good camping spots around Mills Creek or the Cottonwood/Tully Lake areas?
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Re: Trip Advice: SHR the 3rd week of June 2013?

Postby maverick » Wed Jun 05, 2013 3:36 pm

You should be fine going over Gabbot, and the Mills Creek Lakes should not
be missed! Camp spots are better at the lower lake near the outlet, but there
are some spots near the upper lake but without much wind cover.
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