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Humphreys Basin to upper French Canyon: Passes recon? Lakes

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Humphreys Basin to upper French Canyon: Passes recon? Lakes

Postby oleander » Sun Aug 04, 2013 2:04 pm

Hi,

So there is quite a bit of info here about Puppet Pass/Carol Col. My question is, is this your favorite way to travel from Humphreys Basin into the upper basin of French Canyon? Or do you prefer one of the other route options: (1) Steelhead Pass; (2) the pass immediately east of Pilot Knob (does that pass have a name)? I can't seem to find much good recon on those alternatives, here or elsewhere.

We are normally comfortable with Class 2 and easy Class 3, but may have a third person who is newer to x-country travel. I've heard Puppet is not an especially pleasant pass to take a relative beginner over.

Our priority is high-mountain/lake scenery, and solitude (though honestly would pick scenery even over solitude). Not fishing. Not peak-bagging (I guess we could climb Pilot Knob, but I think nobody in my group would care).

We'll have plenty of time to explore both basins; and in fact would gladly seek advice about specific lakes that you may have thought were particularly spectacular or not-to-miss or free of people. (PM me if you prefer not to share your secret publicly.) All things equal, we'd choose the pass that gets us to the most spectacular of the lakes on both N and S sides.

Most likely, we will be tackling the pass in question from north-to-south, if that makes a difference. (Approaching from Royce Lakes area; Exiting Piute Pass.) Timing: Around August 16, 2013.

Thanks!
- Elizabeth



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Re: Humphreys Basin to upper French Canyon: Passes recon? Lakes

Postby SweetSierra » Sun Aug 04, 2013 4:41 pm

The first look down Puppet Pass toward French Canyon looks more difficult than it is. There's a short drop down and traverse right across stable talus to a wall (the way that most folks go) that you make your way down alongside until you reach easier ground in a short distance. One or our party said there was a use trail at the top that can be found by hiking up to the right of the pass a short distance. This use trail looked like it connects with the aforementioned wall and it looked to be easier than dropping down right off the top.
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Re: Humphreys Basin to upper French Canyon: Passes recon? Lakes

Postby rlown » Sun Aug 04, 2013 6:12 pm

N-S via Puppet is actually easier emotionally as you look at the task at hand. You won't see the same view of "air" as you look over the edge you'd see S-N. Put your trekking poles away. Your hands will be more useful at the top, but you already know that. I've no clue about the draw towards Pilot Knob. It puts you at Alsace and then walk up hill again towards Paris and Puppet just do drop down to Elba? hmm.

i did Star Col 2 years ago (i think). that one just a little East of Puppet and that one sucks. A group of DFG volunteers did one up near and over Desolation somewhere, but I've know clue about that one (maybe steelhead?).
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Re: Humphreys Basin to upper French Canyon: Passes recon? Lakes

Postby John Dittli » Sun Aug 04, 2013 6:58 pm

Steelhead is pretty good. Stay left as you descend the north side and pass Rust Lake on the west, very little talus.

As Russ said, Star is not so good, lots of talus. Puppet, as described, has a pretty good use trail. As mentioned stay to the east at the base of the cliffs.

The Pilot Knob pass is steep and chossy on both sides. Not much point in going that way unless you want to climb Pilot Knob or just to do something different. Alsace is a pretty neat spot, but it is easy to reach from Puppet.
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Re: Humphreys Basin to upper French Canyon: Passes recon? Lakes

Postby rlown » Sun Aug 04, 2013 7:58 pm

Capture.JPG


So, we did the Star Col.. Then proceeded to fish Rust and Steelhead as a dayhike. This map I share is not a great scale. It's 150' per line. We camped at Star on the North side.

We hiked to Rust (loved the fishing there.) The problem was the downhill side towards steelhead. That :@K@ thing was steep.

Also, if you choose that route, you miss the beauty of Puppet et al, looking back on Royce. Staying at Puppet you can see great views to the West and the North and looking down towards Moon and Little.

Do your hike the way you want to. you will not be disappointed. I have lots of pics of the area but never posted a full TR of the area. When I get back from those places, I don't think its appropriate for some reason. Like taking pictures of a church to me.

My 2 cts.

russ
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Re: Humphreys Basin to upper French Canyon: Passes recon? Lakes

Postby Jim F » Tue Aug 06, 2013 4:24 pm

Hi Elizabeth,

In the above discussion, both Carol (Puppet) Col and "Star Lake Col" are noted as contending paths for your upcoming adventure. On July 3, I went down Carol Col and then up Star Lake Col on the same day under similar conditions (intermittent drizzle and hail). There was no residual snow on the ground from last winter. Their comparison is still fresh in my near memory. To me their difficulty is similar.

Russ nicely documents Carol Col in the HST section on Cross Country Passes. Staying close to the wall is valuable information.I took off from the top a few yards right of the detached plaque, headed for the wall and confronted no problems that could not readily be solved.

Star Lake Col does not yet have in entry in HST Cross Country Passes. (In fact, this is the first time I have heard it so named.) To approach this col from the north, the only sane way to go is along the eastern shore of Star Lake. When you reach the southern end of the eastern shore, ascend a straight brown colored band to the top of the col. The band consists dirt, rocks, and some vegetation. It gets a little steeper near the top, but then you are almost finished. If you can not visualize the band, then get out your compass and as you start from the shore proceed due (true magnetic) south.

Carol Col and Star Lake Col both top out on a plateau a couple of hundred yards apart. Facing northwest from the center of the plateau, Carol Col drops off just to the left of a promonent hill, and Star Lake Col just to the right of the hill. Looking in the other direction from this plateau, Humphreys Basin lies before you like a candy store. Of course, nearly everywhere in the basin you will be unable to escape two big scenic players, Mt Humphreys and the Glacier Divide.

Your tentative start date is well planned to benefit from a full moon in the middle of your week. My daughter and I are looking forward to the full moon as we are heading up over Lamarck Col that very day en route to the Evolution Group.

Have a great trip.

Jim F
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