TR: Onion Valley to Sixty Lakes Basin and Mount Cotter

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KathyW
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TR: Onion Valley to Sixty Lakes Basin and Mount Cotter

Post by KathyW » Thu Jul 23, 2020 9:20 pm

I just got back from a 3-day trip. On the first day I backpacked into Rae Lakes from Onion Valley. It was exhausting going over two passes (Kearsarge and Glen), but so very beautiful. The clouds looked a bit threatening as I went over Kearsarge Pass but no lightning or rain along the way. I camped not to far from the junction of the trail to Sixty Lakes Basin.

After a good night sleep I headed out for a day hike/climb to Sixty Lakes Basin and Mount Cotter on the second day. All went well - I followed the trail into Sixty Lakes Basin - you climb up to about 11,200' and then drop down to about 10,800' before leaving the trail to head up the east ridge or southeast slopes of Mount Cotter. I worked my way up through the slabs and then ended up in some awful loose sand; so, I headed for the ridge and stayed close to the ridge among the big rocks/boulders up until where it became easy enough to cross over to the south ridge. I crossed over the south ridge but stayed fairly close to it as I headed north to the summit of Mount Cotter. Mount Cotter is rated Class 2 by the Sierra Club but the final little bit to the summit is Class 3. After enjoying the view from the top, I headed back down to Rae Lakes for the night. Lucky for me the water was warm enough in the lake near where I camped for me to jump in and get some of the dust and sweat off me.

On Day 3 it was back over Glen and Kearsarge Passes. No problems with mosquitoes - they were almost nonexistent the whole trip, but I do spray myself with DEET in the morning before heading out and I have been spraying my clothes with Permethrin.

A total of 32.5 miles and 10,400' gain/loss.

Three-day trips where backpack in set up camp on Day 1, day hike on Day 2, and then head out on Day 3 are my favorite backpacking trips. I'll never be a thru hiker but I still like getting out there to enjoy the views.

Photos and Maps: https://kathywing.smugmug.com/Californi ... unt-Cotter








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Jim F
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Re: TR: Onion Valley to Sixty Lakes Basin and Mount Cotter

Post by Jim F » Fri Jul 24, 2020 6:05 pm

KathyW,

Thanks for this fine TR/photos in an outstanding area of the Sierras. I like to visit the Rae Lakes on every possible opportunity.

I also like your three day outing philosophy. On Wednesday I am heading out over Kearsarge Pass (snagged a walk-in permit) and then heading south to the Upper Kern. Plan B is to head north to the Rae Lakes (and perhaps even give Mt Cotter a shot).

Jim

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KathyW
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Re: TR: Onion Valley to Sixty Lakes Basin and Mount Cotter

Post by KathyW » Sat Jul 25, 2020 1:56 pm

Jim: Have a great time! I'm looking forward to your trip report to see what direction you end up going. :)

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bobby49
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Re: TR: Onion Valley to Sixty Lakes Basin and Mount Cotter

Post by bobby49 » Mon Jul 27, 2020 2:01 pm

At the last time that I went that way, I left Onion Valley early and went over Kearsarge Pass and Glen Pass, and then continued over to central 60 Lake Basin that day (dead tired!). On the second day, I climbed Mount Cotter by following the south ridge, which has some challenges. At the summit, it was bad due to all of the unstable rock. Then, for some reason, I descended all the way down the southwestern scree slope to the upper Gardiner Lake, then back up over 60 Lake Pass and down to my camp (dead tired!).

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Re: TR: Onion Valley to Sixty Lakes Basin and Mount Cotter

Post by Jim F » Sat Aug 01, 2020 11:21 am

Hi Kathy,

Here is follow-up to your inquiry from a week ago (July 25), " I look forward to see...what direction you end up going."

Actually, I executed an impromptu Plan C which went as follows:

July 29- Over Kearsarge pass, south on JMT, east on Old JMT into Center Basin, camp just off Old JMT between Lake 11785 and Lake 12090.

July 30- Continue on Old JMT over Junction Pass and down to large meadow (appears as a lake on map) just above The Pothole (on Shepherd Pass Trail), leave Old JMT at meadow and head south cross country (staying high) until meet Shepherd Pass Trail, over Shepherd Pass, cross country below Diamond Mesa, over Forester Pass, camp a few yards from the the intersection of JMT and Old JMT on Bubbs Creek.

July 31- Over Kearsarge Pass and drive seven hours home for late dinner.

Note: From Junction Pass your route on Cotter was easily visualized.

Jim

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Re: TR: Onion Valley to Sixty Lakes Basin and Mount Cotter

Post by giantbrookie » Sun Aug 02, 2020 6:32 pm

Beautiful report and photos as always. I haven't seen one of your reports in awhile and this reminds me what we've been missing. The summit block of Cotter looks really nice and your photos do it justice. I didn't realize Cotter had such a nice culminating point.
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" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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