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Crazy Pass

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Crazy Pass

Postby windknot » Wed Jul 29, 2015 1:48 am

GENERAL OVERVIEW: This pass leads from Hooper Basin from the west to Rose Lake and the Bear Creek drainage to the east. Two different notches in the ridge are located close to each other and both can be used to cross this ridge.

CLASS/DIFFICULTY: Class 2 with a 200 foot stretch of Class 3 at the top on the west side. Class 1 on the east side.

LOCATION: John Muir Wilderness, Sierra National Forest HST Map

ELEVATION: 11,560+ feet

USGS TOPO MAP (7.5'): Florence Lake, CA

ROUTE DESCRIPTION: Crazy Pass can describe either of two slightly lower gaps in the ridgeline above (E/NE) Crazy Lake between Peak 11884 and Peak 11681 north of Mt. Hooper. I took the southern one (Crazy Pass 2) in July 2015, but Wandering Daisy has described using the northern one (Crazy Pass 1) in a 2013 TR.

Crazy Pass ID.jpg

Crazy Pass offers a direct route from Hooper Diversion Dam to the John Muir Trail north of Seldon Pass. The west side is rocky and steep but largely stable, while the east side is a sandy walk up decomposed granite to a rounded lip at the top. Because the east side of the pass is relatively straightforward with no navigational or technical difficulties, this description will focus on the west side.

From the northwest corner of Crazy Lake, head up the gentle ridge northeast toward the northern tip of the lake, then ascend due east either walking up moderately steep slabs or picking a route beneath or above them until they end at about 11,320 feet. Continue climbing east along the same diagonal slope as the terrain changes to small talus and scrub brush above another set of large slabs. If you climb too quickly, you'll get caught in large boulders that will require tricky and potentially technical climbing to wriggle through.

Crazy Pass route.jpg

Once above the second set of large slabs, the terrain becomes significantly steeper. A few bands of scrub brush provide passages up through the large boulders above though, and so now the route entails climbing up through the larger band of scrub brush and small talus, using hands to stabilize you against larger boulders and/or scrub brush along the way. Eventually the talus becomes larger and a walkable passageway appears below and to the north of the pass, through which you can then ascend east/southeast up to the pass itself.

See photo above for the route that I took, but several other micro routes were also possible. We shot for the second (southern) gap in the ridge between the two small spires, but Wandering Daisy has reported in 2013 that she used the low gap farther to the north. The same kind of route would apply there as well, simply turning back north to climb to the top of the ridge instead of continuing east once you reach the area where the slope becomes steeper.

Most of the larger talus and rock ledges were stable, with only a few smaller to medium-sized pieces of rock slipping underfoot. The terrain, while steep with a lot of exposure, seems perhaps less risky ascending from the west because of the many scrub brushes and boulders to provide handholds on each step of the way. Descending the west side of Crazy Pass would be trickier and require more detailed attention to route.

DSC01893 (1800x1011).jpg
From Crazy Pass looking to the west

DSC01909 (1800x1011).jpg
The top of the east side of Crazy Pass
A few backcountry fishing pictures:

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