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Snow Tongue Pass - New Chockstone?

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Snow Tongue Pass - New Chockstone?

Postby StevieRay » Fri Jul 26, 2013 10:44 am

Ran into SEKI backcountry ranger Dave Gordon last week near Dragon Lake (guess he was at McClure for a number of years but is stationed at Rae Lakes this year). I mentioned I was gearing up for my Sierra High Route trip. He said that what the rangers call "Wahoo Col" and Steve Roper called "Snow Tongue Pass" (which is what seems to have stuck) a new giant chockstone rolled into the crux chute. So you have to bypass on extremely sketchy loose shattered rock, and he highly recommended using Alpine Col as an alternative. Anybody else have this experience? I got the impression it was recently - like last year, but then I see a trip report from last September going N to S over it with no chockstone reported. I haven't done either pass, and Alpine Col is a bit of unfinished business, but it seems like if I don't do Snow-Tongue, somehow I am cheating. Comments anybody?



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Re: Snow Tongue Pass - New Chockstone?

Postby afahrland » Fri Jul 26, 2013 11:46 am

I can't imagine what "crux chute" he could be talking about, other than the obvious scary one right as you crest the pass, which is most definitely NOT the right way to go. The correct route is 50-100 ft south of the actual notch where the scary chute is, and isn't something that could really be blocked by a chockstone. Here is a photo which shows the north side and describes how I feel about Snow Tongue Pass:

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Re: Snow Tongue Pass - New Chockstone?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Jul 26, 2013 11:58 am

I hate Snow Tongue Pass. To me the point is not whether the new chockstone is on route or not, rather that the entire pass is unstable and any new "chockstone" could squish you. I did the pass shortly after most snow had melted and I felt like the whole slope could go any minute. Alpine Col is overall harder and more tedious, but I found most of the large talus quite stable. Roper suggests both routes and he is far from a purist. Using Alpine Col in no way makes the route easier, but in my opinion, safer. If you still want to see Wahoo Lakes, just drop your pack at Upper Golden Lake and hike up to the lakes.
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Re: Snow Tongue Pass - New Chockstone?

Postby snowblind » Fri Jul 26, 2013 1:28 pm

I have not done it this year (have several times in the past including last year), but agree with afahrland that the info sounds odd although the ranger seems to have some good info. For what it's worth, I prefer Snow Tongue to Alpine Col (sounds like my opinion could change if this beta is accurate).

Regardless, I would not call it cheating to pick one over the other. In fact, part of the fun of the SHR is to be flexible (there several detours that I prefer to Roper's route).
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Re: Snow Tongue Pass - New Chockstone?

Postby StevieRay » Fri Jul 26, 2013 9:17 pm

Thanks for the feedback everyone. Dave did say "giant chockstone" but it didn't really make sense to me based on reports I've read. Now I'm curious. Guess I'll give 'er a go just so I can say I hate it authoritatively. I am going for Vennacher Col in lieu of Frozen Lake Pass . I've done FLP twice before and variety is the spice of life!
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Re: Snow Tongue Pass - New Chockstone?

Postby Ska-T » Fri Jul 26, 2013 11:55 pm

I have no recent information about a chockstone. Assuming that's not a problem . . .

Regarding Alpine Col vs STP: Are you going south to north or the other direction? If you are northbound then going up Snow Tongue Pass from Lake 11092 is so affable that the difficulties of going down are worth it, IMO. I crossed near Labor Day of a normal snow year so snow wasn't a consideration. Accordingly, after reaching the pass and moving to the right I didn't find the steep descent near the top difficult, but the talus further down was tiring and tedious.

If you are traveling southbound then Alpine Col might be a better choice. That way you would stroll past beautiful Goethe Cirque and Darwin Bench.

-Scott
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Re: Snow Tongue Pass - New Chockstone?

Postby Ska-T » Sat Jul 27, 2013 1:00 am

When I said beautiful Goethe Cirque here is what I mean. The following point & shoot (no tripod) photos are from a trip taken earlier this year (June 8, 2013).
-Scott

Alpine Col from "Lower Goethe Lake"
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Goethe Cirque from Goethe Lake
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Alpine glow on Mt Humphreys from "Lower Goethe Lake"
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Re: Snow Tongue Pass - New Chockstone?

Postby sekihiker » Sat Jul 27, 2013 7:59 am

Ska-T wrote:When I said beautiful Goethe Cirque here is what I mean. The following point & shoot (no tripod) photos are from a trip taken earlier this year (June 8, 2013).
-Scott

Wow! Great photos of a rugged area.
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