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Mt Williamson in March?

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Mt Williamson in March?

Postby MarmotPrince » Sat Dec 31, 2011 8:58 pm

Assuming normal snow levels, is Mt Williamson doable in march for experienced but NON-technical snow travellers? Ie, ok with working on 40-50 degree snow slopes. Is it going to be much worse than Whitney's MR?

Also, anyone got a gps of the route so I can look at possible bivy sites?



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Re: Mt Williamson in March?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Jan 01, 2012 7:02 pm

I would not call a 45-50 degree snow slope "non-technical". I suspect wallowing in snow on the approach would be harder than the snow on the actual summit. I did the route in early May many years ago and we had to use crampons (icy spots in the morning). We did the approach up George Creek. I did not find the snow particulary steep or difficult. But it is not a beginner's route. I would say if you can do the standard route on Mt Shasta, Williamson is similar, with respect to the snow.
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Re: Mt Williamson in March?

Postby giantbrookie » Sun Jan 01, 2012 11:23 pm

I have not done Williamson that early and I did it by the "standard" route on the west face. I believe in average conditions in March this would be much more difficult than Shasta by the standard route (which I've done in May). I agree with WD that some of the greatest difficulty would be slogging through snow, but I also believe there will be some at least partly technical snow/ice, too. The chute on the west face is very steep--significantly steeper than anything on Shasta's standard route. With icy spots (very likely in this slot-like shaded chute, even though it is west facing) this would require some crampon work. If there is ice/snow in the class 3 crack/chimney at the top of the chute that leads to the summit plateau, this will make for additional technical complications. What is more, Shasta's standard route in springtime usually (always?) benefits from a very generous runout at the below the Red Banks etc. so that if you slip and can't self arrest, you're probably going to avoid injury. The same cannot be said if you cannot self arrest in the chute on Williamson's west face.
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Re: Mt Williamson in March?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Jan 02, 2012 9:54 am

The route I did is on the east side. I recall there being plenty of runout when on snow and nothing more than class 2. Apparently the west side route is steeper. Why do you want to do Williamson in March? It is basically a winter climb at that time. The area has been provisionally opened for year-round permits. If that policy in place last year is to be continued this year, you on longer have to do it early season.
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Re: Mt Williamson in March?

Postby MarmotPrince » Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:22 am

Hmmm, well it definitely sounds like the east is the way to go for me.

I want to do it in winter conditions for the experience and for training. I've soloed alot of 40-45 degree slopes in light hikers when the snow is soft, and done some sustained front pointing on 50 degree slopes. Obviously it's all going to depend on the condition of the snow.

I'm surprised that you guys think that there will be alot of post holing. I would plan to wait for a while after any snowfall before making an attempt and I would have thought snow and early starts would make the ground walkable.
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Re: Mt Williamson in March?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu Jan 05, 2012 11:28 am

March is still considered winter in the Sierra. Old snow may be consolidated, but there is a good possiblility of new snow that falls in March that will not be consolidated. This year is predicted to be colder than normal. It takes several days of above freezing temperatures to consolidate snow and this may not happen this year until later, so you may have post-holing in spite of a low snow year. Also, this year there is little base snow that fell in the late Fall, so most snow will be relatively new snow. The solution would be to take mountaineering snowshoes, like the MSR Deanili. Personally, I think the east side approach to Mt Williamson is more difficult than doing the Mountaineer's route on Whitney. I would select the latter if you do not have lots of winter mountaineering experience. Lots of people do the Mountaineers route so there would likely be some tracks that have already been made.
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Re: Mt Williamson in March?

Postby KathyW » Thu Mar 15, 2012 8:40 pm

George Creek to Williamson is Class 2 - not technical, but the lower part of the route between the trailhead and about 9300' is a chore between the creek crossings and the bushes.

How about April or May for the trip when the snow starts to consolidate and makes for good snow climbs - sometimes you get great conditions as early as April, but other years not until June.

Spring to early summer is my favorite time of year to go to the Sierra.
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