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TR:Mono Pass, Pioneer Basin, Hopkins&Grinnell Lakes 6/7-6/10

Posted: Sat Jun 15, 2013 11:20 pm
by tomba
See map with marked passes. Select in upper-right Menu / Label On/Off to turn off the labels.

We had a rough plan to explore Pioneer Basin, Hopkins and Grinnell Lakes, and perhaps either further west or visit some of the Recesses.

The first day we followed the trail from Mosquito Flat to Pioneer Basin. As expected, there was no snow on south-facing slope to Ruby Lake. After the trail turned north, close to Mono Pass, we had to cross some easy snow fields on gentle terrain. We climbed hill 11768' above Golden Lake. This is a good vista point with a large flat top. We rejoined the trail above Trail Lakes (with a snow hut). After a descent through nice sparse whitebark forest we crossed Golden Creek, and climbed to Pioneer Basin, following the trail route. We camped at SE side of the largest lake 10862'.

Click on photos for larger versions.

Ruby Lake.
A smal lake near Mono Pass.
Looking south from the largest lake in Pioneer Basin across two lakes south from it.
The next day we climbed hill 11160+', east from the largest lake, for a good view. This is a very nice area. Then we went north to lk. 11026' and west on nice slabs and crossed numerous small pretty creeks to frozen lake 11160+', where we filtered (squeezed) water before climbing passes. We dropped our packs not far from the lake and climbed Stanford Col. The pass doesn't seem hard, but north side of the pass doesn't look nice - large talus field and scree. We picked our packs and crossed some snow fields to approach Crocker Col. The climb of Crocker Col was not very hard on the snow but the talus mixed with scree was loose. On top of the pass we stumbled upon good but heavy binoculars that someone (anyone here?) obviously forgot. As we traversed to Hopkins Pass, we found that this area, although beautiful, had too many mosquitoes. After viewing scenic McGee area we headed towards the "hanging valley" (with plenty of snow) west from Lower Hopkins Lake, hoping to camp there at higher elevation to avoid mosquitoes, but we ran out of daytime and camped in the lower valley instead.

The largest lake in Pioneer Basin.
Lake 11026'.
A creek above most lakes. In background: largest lake, 3rd and 4th Recesses, Mono Pass.
Largest Lake, 3rd and 4th Recesses.
Pioneer Basin view from Stanford Col. The highest, frozen lake on right.
Climbing Crocker Col.
Hopkins Lakes Basin.

Re: TR: Mono Pass, Pioneer Basin, Hopkins & Grinnell Lakes 6/7-6

Posted: Sat Jun 15, 2013 11:36 pm
by tomba
In the morning we quickly climbed through some bushes towards that higher valley, but we were disappointed by many mosquitoes there. We considered returning, because of mosquitoes and because of forecast of high chance of bad weather the next two days. But weather was nice and we wanted to see Grinnell Lake. Only when we approached frozen small lake 11440+', we escaped mosquitoes. We easily climbed the ridge to the point marked "Hopkins Laurel Pass" (quotes, because it is neither official nor customary name) on the map linked above. We actually intended to cross "Grinnell Hopkins Pass". We climbed the peak 12040+', slightly north from the pass, to see Grinnell Lake. We liked the view and decided to go there. Descent was mostly sliding down on scree and sand. I would not like to go up this way. After a break in a small meadow below tiny lake 10920+', (no mosquitoes at all!) we traversed to Grinnell Lake and camped on its west side with impressive view of Red and White Mountain. In late afternoon we hiked to frozen Little Grinnell Lake and had a look at snowy south side of Pace Col.

The lake in the "hanging valley" west from Lower Hopkins Lake. The pass we crossed is on the right.
Vertical layers of granite.
Grinnell Lake seen from the outlet.
Grinnell Lake, near mid part.
Grinnell Lake seen from Little Grinnell Lake.
Sunset near our camp.
There were low clouds/fog in the morning and our tents were soaked with condensation inside. After sunrise the clouds mostly dissipated slowly. We hiked out by following the outlet creek. At Laurel Creek mosquitoes became bothersome. As we climbed trail along Mono Creek, thunder, rain and hail started. It stopped after a couple of hours before we crossed Golden Creek. It was a long hike back to the trailhead.

Little lake above our camp.
Our camp with Grinnell Lake in background.
Red and White Mountain in clouds.
The whole trip we saw nobody north from Mono Pass.

See more photos and information about conditions in conditions report.

Ask if you want more information or more photos.

Re: TR:Mono Pass, Pioneer Basin, Hopkins&Grinnell Lakes 6/7-6/10

Posted: Sun Jun 16, 2013 2:14 am
by The hermit
Silver divide is my favorite area thanks for the report great pics cant wait toget up there. Volcanic knob

Re: TR:Mono Pass, Pioneer Basin, Hopkins&Grinnell Lakes 6/7-6/10

Posted: Sun Jun 16, 2013 4:46 am
by The Other Tom
Great report and pics. Thanks for posting.

Re: TR:Mono Pass, Pioneer Basin, Hopkins&Grinnell Lakes 6/7-6/10

Posted: Sun Jun 16, 2013 7:35 am
by BakoGal
The photo of the vertical layers of granite is spectacular! Thanks for taking the time to write this up and post.

Re: TR:Mono Pass, Pioneer Basin, Hopkins&Grinnell Lakes 6/7-6/10

Posted: Sun Jun 16, 2013 10:24 am
by artrock23
Excellent TR and photos. Thanks for posting!

Re: TR:Mono Pass, Pioneer Basin, Hopkins&Grinnell Lakes 6/7-6/10

Posted: Sun Jun 16, 2013 11:33 am
by Mradford
Great TR and photos. I especially like the one of the vertical granite. Pretty cool. I was in Little lakes valley about two weeks ago and its crazy to see just in that short amount of time the difference in snow.

Re: TR:Mono Pass, Pioneer Basin, Hopkins&Grinnell Lakes 6/7-6/10

Posted: Sun Jun 16, 2013 10:03 pm
by tomba
Here is a wider view of the vertical granite layers:
And here is the view from the other (west) side:
(Click on photos for lager versions.)

These layers are located just north from the pass we crossed.

TR:Mono Pass, Pioneer Basin, Hopkins&Grinnell Lakes 6/7-6/10

Posted: Sun Jun 16, 2013 10:43 pm
by Bluewater
Thanks for your TR, photos and map link. I appreciate the update on the current conditions. The snow is melting fast, I'm glad I waited one more week.

Re: TR:Mono Pass, Pioneer Basin, Hopkins&Grinnell Lakes 6/7-6/10

Posted: Mon Jun 17, 2013 7:51 am
by cgundersen
Hi tomba,
Yes, we just missed you up there! Frankly, for that early in the season, I'd have been surprised to run into anyone that far back, but I'm sure there are other folks who have been monitoring the melt and decided to get out early. As testimony to the melt, the outlet of Grinnell was still covered with ice when we went through, but it was clear by the time you hit it only a couple days later. Also, I'm not surprised that you took the Hopkins-Laurel Pass, because it looks easier from the Hopkins side, but it's definitely a bit trickier going down on the Grinnell side. Still, either route is worth it to get to Grinnell!
I'll look forward to your next adventure!