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Crabtree (Miter) Pass

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Crabtree (Miter) Pass

Postby shtinkypuppie » Wed Aug 31, 2016 8:03 pm

GENERAL OVERVIEW: This pass leads from the popular Miter Basin area to the lovely Crabtree Lakes chain.

CLASS/DIFFICULTY: I would call this moderate Class 2, with a proviso that navigation is a bit more difficult here than on most cross-country passes I've done.

LOCATION: Sequoia National Park. HST Map

ELEVATION: 12,500 ft

USGS TOPO MAP (7.5'): Mount Whitney

ROUTE DESCRIPTION: Parenthetical numbers in the text refer to numbers on attached map.

Starting from the north shore of Sky Blue Lake, head west along the north shore of the lake to a small waterfall at the inlet. There are a few ways up this waterfall, but the best is a ramp that starts west of the waterfall and tacks back east to the head of it ('1' on map). After a short uphill you'll reach a confluence (2). To the east, a gently sloped creek takes you to Arc Pass, to the west, a steeper creek takes you to Crabtree. Turn west and either walk right up the creek or follow a cairned route along the north slope of the creekbed. You'll top out at a rocky, flat basin with a small lake in the middle (3). Walk west on either shore of this lake and find a rocky moraine at the lake's head (4). A tall cairn stands out at the top of this moraine. Scramble up the moraine on one of several routes - it's a little steep with some loose sand, but not hard - and gain the top. Turn right and walk north along the top of the moraine until you can look east into another flat, rocky basin with another small lake (5). Walk east past this lake into a meadow with two decent campsites. From here, a broad granite ramp cuts west and up the slope to the north (6). Walk up this ramp to the outlet creek of the small lake EAST of Mount Newcomb, then follow this creek up to the lake itself (7). This lake is probably the most important navigational point, so whatever you do, make sure you end up here. From the outlet of this lake, walk east along the south shore until it gets rocky and steep. Gain about 20 feet of elevation above the lakeshore and countour northeast to a saddle on the lake's east side. Cross this saddle and pick up a route of intermittent cairns and use trails. This route wasn't quite well marked enough to follow full-time, but try to broadly keep the same elevation - DON'T drop down to Lake 3697. After a rough contour that requires a few ups and downs, you'll come to a tiny tarn (8). Climb up on the left side of this tarn to a larger one (9). Swing around this tarn on its west side, then head east around its north shore. A granite cliff will peter out as you move east and you'll shortly be able to swing around it into a rocky, bouldery draw. Start up the bottom of the draw until a really good use trail becomes obvious on your left (10). This trail leads you out of the draw, behind a low rock wall, and up to the pass.

Until now, the main challenge has been navigation. Nowhere was the train worse than easy class 2. After the pass, the reverse is true. From the top of the pass, find a good use trail that switchbacks tightly down a rocky chute. The low point of the pass is pretty narrow so there's really only one chute to be descended, but it is somewhat to the left of the low point in the saddle. The switchbacks can actually be seen on Google's satellite view about halfway down the pass. The very top of this chute is what I would call difficult class 2: It's pretty steep, and there's lots of loose sand in the chute, but there are enough rocks to get good purchase and it's never really exposed. After about 200 feet of descent, the slope moderates a bit and the use trail gets much better; the difficulty eases to difficult class 1, then moderate class 1. This chute drops you out onto a broad granite plateau (11). Once on this, you'll walk northeast and find an easy class 2 route down to the talus below, and then west to the shore of Crabtee Lake #3. Walk a good use trail along the north shore of Crabtree Lake #3, then walk down an easy drainage toward Crabtree Lake #2. Just above Crabtree #2, you'll find a small pond. Turn right (north) at this pond and cross behind a granite knob (12) on the east shore of Crabtree #2 to avoid some cliffs. Drop down an steep ravine just on the far side of this knob to gain the sandy east shore of the lake. Continue northwest over the saddle in front of you to pick up a good use trail past Crabtree #1 and on to Crabtree meadow.

I apologize, but it seems I didn't get any actual pictures while on the pass itself.

Thanks for reading and happy trails!
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Last edited by maverick on Thu Jul 27, 2017 9:16 am, edited 3 times in total.
Reason: subject matter
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Re: Crabtree (Miter) Pass

Postby Hobbes » Thu Sep 01, 2016 8:56 am

Crabtree pass is the saddle below Mt McAdie on the right. (The 3rd peak in the rear - the other two 'peaks' form the shoulder.) If you look closely, it's behind the cliff & just left of the shadow line. Discovery pinnacle is in the background. As the route map indicates, traverse the cliff band(s) above Sky blue lake to the left, then hook back around.


Here's the view from the top of the pass. The route up to Mt Whitney via Discovery pinnacle starts around the small snow patch.


Rather than drop down to begin an ascent of Discovery pinnacle, you can contour under McAdie & Whitney pass from Crabtree pass, but it's really for very advanced climbers:

http://www.summitpost.org/whitney-basin ... day/800052
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Re: Crabtree (Miter) Pass

Postby cgundersen » Thu Jul 27, 2017 9:19 am

When I've done this route (from the south only), I have deviated from what shtinky did and contoured into the outlet of the big lake at 3697 meters. This poses a bit of a challenge, because from the outlet of 3697 there are cliffs on the easier route around the lake (its west side) that force one uphill a bit before descending to walk around the lake. But, from that point it is smooth sailing to the Crabtree ridge (as the photos below will show). Once you reach the top of Crabtree, you actually have 2 options for descending into Crabtree basin. There's the route shtinky outlined, but on my last time over Crabtree, there were 4 guys coming up that way, and we did not want to dislodge rocks/scree into their path. So, we ventured a bit to the right of the path outlined on the map. It had more big hops and big rocks, but was more solid (& less dusty) than what the quartet was climbing. In a nutshell, there are multiple options for getting down (or up) the north side, and then it's up to you whether you want to mess with lake 3697 or go the way shtinky outlined. The photos will show the approach from the south and a view back at Lake 3697 which will show the small "cliffs" near the western side of the outlet that one needs to circumvent. The final shot will be views back up at the north side of the Crabtree ridge.






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