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Best Route To Dumbbell Lakes?

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Best Route To Dumbbell Lakes?

Postby poorboy44 » Tue Jul 23, 2013 11:44 am

Hi this is my first posting!

I am planning to head to Dumbbell lakes over Aug 3-11. Can anyone advise me the best way to get there? I am considering these two options:

1) South Fork to Mather Pass to Upper Basin Cross to Cataract Pass

2) Going further south from Mather to Cartridge Pass --> Dumbell Pass

Anyone have any recommendations? THanks in advance for the help. FYI I tried a search and I couldn't find the exact information I was looking for, hence this post. Thanks again!

Scotty



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Re: Best Route To Dumbbell Lakes?

Postby giantbrookie » Tue Jul 23, 2013 12:30 pm

First off, Welcome to Topix! I presume you're thoroughly experienced with rugged off trail backpacking because Dumbbell Lakes are a destination for advanced off trail backpackers.

As far as "best" route to Dumbbell Lakes I believe this depends on what your priorities are, especially in terms of the other places you'd like to see on your trip (see below).

In terms of "easiest", in my opinion getting into the Dumbbells from Lakes Basin is easier than getting into the Dumbbells via Cataract Pass. There is some talus hopping via Dumbbell Pass, but it is physically easier and less steep than Cataract Pass. Cataract Pass features two notable points of difficulty: (1) on the lower part of the approach up Cataract Creek there is an annoying maze of deadfalls that creates a little "steeplechase" course. (2) The summit of Cataract Pass itself is pretty steep on its north side and is commonly blocked by snow cornices that may require class 3 detours. This year I'm sure the snow cornice situation is NOT an issue because of two consecutive light winters.

As far as other highlights to take in via the two routes, each has its advantages. The Dumbbell Pass route means you get to go through Lakes Basin, which is a wonderful destination in its own right. The Cataract Pass route takes you past Amphitheater Lake which ranks among my top 5 of favorite High Sierra lakes in terms of scenic beauty. This is one of the reasons why I want to go in via Cataract Pass and leave via Dumbbell Pass, when I get the chance to go there again. The Dumbbell Lakes are a special place, and one of the things that makes them special is difficulty in getting there. It bears mentioning that whereas Dumbbell and Cataract Passes are the two most popular ways into the Dumbbells, they are not the only ways in. There are at least two other ways in, but these are a bit more involved and complex (although not necessarily more difficult).
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: Best Route To Dumbbell Lakes?

Postby maverick » Tue Jul 23, 2013 12:40 pm

Hi Scotty,

Please read: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=4205
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: Best Route To Dumbbell Lakes?

Postby poorboy44 » Tue Jul 23, 2013 1:22 pm

Thanks so much for the prompt reply! Yes, we are experienced backpackers actually we are going into climb Cyclorama wall so we are OK with anything up to class 5. We have 9 days to get in there, climb the wall and get out, so we want the fastest way in. We are planning on 2-3 days to get to Dumbbell lakes and I think going in via Taboose Pass--> Bench Lake -->Cartridge Pass --> Dumbbell makes sense. My friend went via Southfork --> Mather--> Cataract Pass last year and he said it was a lot of boulder hopping that was a pain. Thanks again for the advice, this is great!
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Re: Best Route To Dumbbell Lakes?

Postby giantbrookie » Tue Jul 23, 2013 3:34 pm

Cyclorama Wall. Nice. I am not a serious climber but I have gazed at that wall and it is impressive, as well as being remote. Given that you are serious climbers, and you are trying to get to the Dumbbells as fast as you can then you might consider the following route, which is the way my wife and I went in. This entails going via Bishop Pass then over Knapsack, then descending southward down Barrett Creek (important to stay on W side of creek on lower section--have had reports of serious misery for folks doing the other side). If you are in the sort of shape I imagine you're in (ie very good shape) you may be able get to Palisade Creek below Cataract Creek in one day. From there you are easily into Dumbbell Lakes via Cataract Pass on day 2 with time to spare. To give you some idea of how this route can work in good conditions, my wife and I went from Amphitheater Lake to South Lake on the final day of our trip (ie reversing most of this route). That was in July 1993 when stream crossings were much more of a pain than they will be now.
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: Best Route To Dumbbell Lakes?

Postby maverick » Tue Jul 23, 2013 4:39 pm

Hi Scott,

Have you had a chance to read this: http://www.pullharder.org/2013/01/13/th ... rama-wall/
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: Best Route To Dumbbell Lakes?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Jul 23, 2013 4:54 pm

I have done technical alpine climbing in the recent past. If I had 9 days and were carrying in heavy climbing gear, I would prefer the easiest vs fastest route, which is through Lakes Basin via Cartridge Pass. I have camped at the highest lake just below the climb and it is not a bad place for a base camp. I would get into Lake Basin via Cartridge Pass. Once you get through the boulder cones on the river and take time to find the old trail, it is a good trail all the way into Lakes Basin. Once over Dumbbell Pass there is a ducked route that goes up from the first (southernmost Dumbbell Lake) to which you descend from Dumbbell Pass. A third alternative is to go over Frozen Lake Pass, however it probably would combine the worst of Cataract vs Cartridge, unless it were totally snow covered (no chance this year). But, any way you go it is not "easy". Bushwhacking up Cataract Creek probably would do me in since I have short legs. But then, I really cannot say for sure, since I have done Frozen Lake Pass and Cartridge Pass but not Cataract.
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Re: Best Route To Dumbbell Lakes?

Postby sekihiker » Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:17 pm

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Re: Best Route To Dumbbell Lakes?

Postby maverick » Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:53 pm

After looking at the photos taken in the TR from someone elses site that I posted
earlier the view from one of them looked familiar and after checking some photos
and then cross checking with Google Earth, it checked out. The shot from a distance
with the lake underneath is taken from Upper Basin Crossing located here on
the HST map: HST Map
The quickest way to this pass would be to use Red Lake Pass just north of Split
Mountain here: 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: Best Route To Dumbbell Lakes?

Postby poorboy44 » Wed Jul 24, 2013 8:27 am

Hi Maverick:

Yes, this trip report is written by my friend Josh who went in last year via Cataract Pass. It sounded kind of brutal the way he went, that's why I wanted to solicit advice here on High Sierra Topix. It sounds like the consensus is that Cartridge Pass is the fastest/easiest way in.

Scotty

maverick wrote:Hi Scott,

Have you had a chance to read this: http://www.pullharder.org/2013/01/13/th ... rama-wall/
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Re: Best Route To Dumbbell Lakes?

Postby poorboy44 » Wed Jul 24, 2013 8:34 am

Just to clarify - do you guys think the best way to get "in" to Bench Lake is over Taboose Pass? Even though it's a bit longer than the XC routes, it's on a trail which is usually much easier. Or do you think Red Lake Pass/ South Fork Pass make more sense?
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Re: Best Route To Dumbbell Lakes?

Postby maverick » Wed Jul 24, 2013 11:29 am

Fastest and easiest will be the Taboose/Cartridge route.
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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