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Conditions Around Mt. Ritter/Banner

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Conditions Around Mt. Ritter/Banner

Postby alpinemike » Thu May 29, 2014 11:38 am

Hi everyone.

I'm setting out on a trip into the Ansel Adams Wilderness this Monday. The trip will be 4 days and I don't have a set itinerary just yet. My plan is to start from Agnew Meadows TH and head up to Ediza. From there I plan on at least day hiking up to Cecile Lake. I'm also thinking about camping at 1000 Island Lake one of the nights. One goal of mine is to try and head up to Mt. Ritter/Banner and that brings up a question of mine for fellow experienced climbers and mountaineers.

I've looked at the TR's from the past Memorial Day Weekend to give me an idea of the conditions I'll be looking at. Looks like the snow is pretty solid above 10,000 Ft. and with some snow melt I'm sure by Monday it will be around 10,500 Ft, but potentially lower. So the question is how icy and serious will the conditions be for an ascent of Mt. Ritter from the Ritter/Banner Saddle? I can make a pretty educated guess and say that there will be very solid snow but later into the afternoon it should turn mushy and potentially very difficult to just move on. Or should I expect more ice up at the saddle?

I'm familiar with self-arrest and mountaineering skills. I'll be carrying an ice ax regardless and will carry microspike type things. I recently summitted Freel Peak in Tahoe with excellent spring conditions. Soft enough snow to walk on, but not so soft you fall through. And soft enough to gliassde on as well.

Any advice on the types of conditions I might expect and what to prepare for will be greatly appreciated. I'll be sure to post the TR when I get back.

Thank you!
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Re: Conditions Around Mt. Ritter/Banner

Postby Shawn » Thu May 29, 2014 5:47 pm

Hi Mike -

From recent TR's posted here it looks like snow coverage from Ediza on up. Frankly speaking, attempting Ritter given the current conditions without crampons (with ice axe and helmet) is a death wish.

Even long before you reach the saddle, you wouldn't want to trust your life to micro spikes in my opinion. When you get close to the saddle, the ascent gets quite steep. While it's likely covered with snow this time of year, it's still deadly if a trip or a fall were to occur unarrested.

Lastly. with the temps warming up and the rapid snow melt, there are hidden crevasses created on either side of the approach to the saddle. Best to be cognizant of these.

No doubt you've done your homework but I felt obliged to add some words of caution given your words about micro spikes.

Good luck, look forward to seeing your TR.
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Re: Conditions Around Mt. Ritter/Banner

Postby jenreyn » Thu May 29, 2014 5:53 pm

It is clear to Ediza but snow from there on up.....was there the other day. Lots of snow up by Ritter and Banner. I would use caution with the ascent of Banner saddle without crampons. Thousand Island has some snow around it and is still partially frozen. It is supposed to cool off next week a little and temps up high will be freezing at night.
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Re: Conditions Around Mt. Ritter/Banner

Postby maverick » Thu May 29, 2014 6:31 pm

Shawn wrote:
From recent TR's posted here it looks like snow coverage from Ediza on up. Frankly speaking, attempting Ritter given the current conditions without crampons (with ice axe and helmet) is a death wish.

Even long before you reach the saddle, you wouldn't want to trust your life to micro spikes in my opinion. When you get close to the saddle, the ascent gets quite steep. While it's likely covered with snow this time of year, it's still deadly if a trip or a fall were to occur unarrested.

Lastly. with the temps warming up and the rapid snow melt, there are hidden crevasses created on either side of the approach to the saddle. Best to be cognizant of these.


Exactly. Here is a TR from July of last year: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=9583&start=0
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Conditions Around Mt. Ritter/Banner

Postby J ney » Fri May 30, 2014 11:05 am

Looking forward to a TR from this trip, Mike!! I'm planning an ascent of Ritter's SE glacier in two weeks and am scouring for beta!
I echo comments regarding crampons rather than microspikes.
Hope you have a great and safe trip!!
J
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Re: Conditions Around Mt. Ritter/Banner

Postby alpinemike » Sat May 31, 2014 2:37 pm

Thank you for everyone's advice.

That TR Maverick was especially helpful.. appreciated it. Due to all of that I'll be playing it on the safe side and won't be attempting a summit Ritter or Banner. I don't own crampons and don't feel like buying or renting them for this trip as I'm already carrying enough camera gear.

I'm still curious as to the conditions so I may check out the area below the saddle and depending on conditions traverse around the Eastern edge of Banner peak from Ediza Lake to get to 1000 Island.

Thanks again everyone.
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Re: Conditions Around Mt. Ritter/Banner

Postby KathyW » Sun Jun 01, 2014 10:43 am

I'm thinking of heading out to Thousand Island Lake, Glacier Pass, Lake Catherine, Banner, and maybe Davis next weekend; so if anyone is up in that area before next Friday I'd love to hear about conditions.
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Re: Conditions Around Mt. Ritter/Banner

Postby maverick » Sun Jun 01, 2014 12:16 pm

Alpinemike,

The route from Catherine Lake to Banner Peak is much easier and doable without
tech gear, and has a great view from the summit too.
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Re: Conditions Around Mt. Ritter/Banner

Postby Mradford » Thu Jun 05, 2014 2:44 pm

I was actually looking into this route as well. I am heading up to 1,000 island lake in July and was wondering how the approach is from Catherine lake via North Glacier pass.
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Re: Conditions Around Mt. Ritter/Banner

Postby maverick » Thu Jun 05, 2014 3:41 pm

Mradford,

PM sent.
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Re: Conditions Around Mt. Ritter/Banner

Postby KathyW » Thu Jun 05, 2014 7:45 pm

I've been to Lake Catherine, but we didn't allow enough time to do Banner while in there; so I'll be heading back again. It looks like a pretty straight forward route and not to steep of a slope up to Banner from Lake Catherine, but still steep enough to not want to fall if it is hard ice. We were out there in August and the glacier was really hard ice in the morning and we didn't have time to wait for it to soften up a bit so there would be a chance of arresting a fall; so it ended up just being an overnighter to Lake Catherine and back. The boulders on Glacier Pass are a pain, but nothing too bad.

I'm not going this weekend though, but hopefully sometime in the next month because I don't want to be dealing with icy conditions again.
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Re: Conditions Around Mt. Ritter/Banner

Postby alpinemike » Thu Jun 05, 2014 7:51 pm

Alrighty... What an awesome trip that was! I'll be posting the full TR hopefully in the next 4 days.

To give an idea of the conditions though:

Almost all trails are snow free with the exception of a few patches on North Facing slopes. I expect that to be gone within the next 2 weeks as well

Ediza & 1000 Island are completely thawed out. On the other hand Iceberg and Catherine are completely frozen. I don't expect either to thaw out for another month.

North Glacier Pass was fun and the conditions were pretty straightforward in the morning. Lots of hard suncups and as you get further up the snow got a bit harder, but still could kick step into it without much of an issue. In the afternoon though that was a different story as it was not only suncup hell but all posthole hell. There's not much I could have done.. since getting up Banner took quite a while.

Ritter-Banner Saddle from Lake Catherine was completely covered in snow and I traveled on it for a little while. The conditions were similar to North Glacier Pass. I did have to cut some nice steps to get up some sections but even the steepest section at the top was fairly soft.

The climb up Banner was a long and there were some very annoying snow fields that one had to navigate but it was completely doable if one looked around for a feasible route. I was the 2nd ascent of the year.

Here's a photo of Ritter-Banner Saddle
photo 5 (1).JPG
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