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Shepherd Pass conditions

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Shepherd Pass conditions

Postby commonloon » Mon Jun 23, 2014 10:34 am

I did a week in the high country, just got back and wanted relay to conditions info for anyone planning a trip.

The washout: its basically the same, cross over near bottom, traverse a little bit up in it, then proceed parallel up along it until you hit the trail. Loose...

Snow: patchy snow above 10K ft. The snowfield at the top is about 5-6ft thick near the upper portion. It has some sun-cupped booted tracks, but there really isn't a easy track worn in. I used Kahtoola K10s w/ my trail runners and trekking poles. I guess someone with more experience and skills than me might be able to kick step across w/o crampons or micro-spikes, but I personally found it at the edge of my comfort zone even with my K10s.

I did see/talk to a few of climbers (mostly) on the way up on my way down. So, there may be more of track now.

I'll post some pics later of the pass for anyone interested.

In general everywhere else seemed unseasonably dry (obviously). Tyndal Creek for example, seemed nearly the same level as last Sept!



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Re: Shepherd Pass conditions

Postby Jimr » Mon Jun 23, 2014 12:07 pm

We're always interested. Please post pics.
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Re: Shepherd Pass conditions

Postby maverick » Mon Jun 23, 2014 12:14 pm

Thanks for the update Commonloon! :thumbsup:
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Shepherd Pass conditions

Postby commonloon » Mon Jun 23, 2014 5:15 pm

Here is the pass:

pass.jpg


Here is where I crossed the snow field:

whereicrossed.jpg


Here is the lake above:

lake.jpg


Here is the plateau:

plateau.jpg


Tyndall Creek:

creek.jpg


Hope those help...
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Shepherd Pass conditions

Postby Bluewater » Mon Jun 23, 2014 11:59 pm

Thanks for the update!


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Re: Shepherd Pass conditions

Postby ndwoods » Wed Jul 23, 2014 11:04 pm

Thanks!
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Shepherd Pass conditions

Postby Hobbes » Sat Jul 26, 2014 7:49 am

The Shepherd pass washout continues to pose problems to hikers, perhaps due to increased use and/or erosion. As of now, there are three possible alternative routes; I've taken two, so I figured I would post up some impressions. Maverick & Oleander also had some comments, which I can share as well.

Below is a simple hand-drawn map showing the basic situation:

Image

Option 1: Proceed up trail to the actual point of the washout. Upclimb through loose scree to the top of the ravine/washout. Proceed back down to trail. Loose scree is an understatement; the conditions are actually a scree/talus avalanche that comes down with any movement. M & O took this route up and found it "challenging". Perhaps they can add some of their own personal thoughts when they return.

I took this route on the way back down. It took me around 15-20 minutes, and IMO has the potential to be dangerous.

Option 2: You will come to the ravine at the turn of a switchback around 100 yards before the actual trail washout. Here you will see a path through the ravine and up the other side, where a use trail has developed into the talus/trees/bush. This is the route I took on the way up, and while it also takes around 15-20 minutes, the bushwhacking & talus climb is all standard stuff.

Option 3: I met another downhill hiker above the Pothole while getting some water & taking a break. He had taken route 1 on the way up and described it as "getting your adrenalin going". I was probably 15-20 minutes ahead of him, and was finally on the other side of the ravine when he showed up on the other side ready to do his traverse.

I yelled across that I thought option 2 was much better, having done both. Since he was standing there, he could see that he could merely downclimb along the edge to the point of the ravine crossing, rather than backtrack and climb down through the talus. As he proceeded to climb down, I took off down the switchbacks. Around 3-4 minutes later, I was at the bottom of the switchbacks where the other hiker was also proceeding to join the trail!

Now, I don't know if he was an expert climber, or whether the downclimb is easier than the ascent, but after wasting 15-20 minutes in poor conditions doing option 1, I was kicking myself for not having done my original route. His approach, of course, was even better.

Anyone going up/down Shepherd will of course have to make their own personal decision when they get there. Here are some photos looking up and down @ the ravine washout. Looking at these photos doesn't begin to convey the scale of the situation. Note the size of the trees for some clues:

Down
Image

Up
Image
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Re: Shepherd Pass conditions

Postby yosemint » Sat Jul 26, 2014 5:26 pm

Thanks for the update. I've heard that the washout has caused some hikers to go astray and head out the wrong way. Hopefully your description will help others get passed it without problem

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Re: Shepherd Pass conditions

Postby maverick » Mon Jul 28, 2014 1:25 pm

Hi Yosemint,

Welcome to HST! Hobbes is correct, personally I used a similar route on the way
out near the original trail, just a little down from it this time, but would not
recommend it to anyone with balance issues, and understanding the dynamics of
the terrain, or have a climbing background.

This was a mudslide, and rocks of all different sizes are packed in the mud.
With the dry weather the mud crumbles very easily and one should test each
rocks stability before committing, just like with any climbing.

The problem is that folks who do not take this approach will find that even
very large rocks will dislodge under the smallest amount of pressure or pull.
Wearing a pack will just add to ones difficulty with balance issues, and a fall
with a pack here could be very dangerous.

So unless you have some climbing background or have good balance/stability
you should find a crossing that is within your personal comfort level, and
pay no attention to what another backpacker priory to you just did, they
may have crossed this before or have climbing background which you are
not aware of.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Shepherd Pass conditions

Postby oleander » Sat Aug 09, 2014 2:30 pm

I tried Option 1 (uphill along the ravine) on the way up the pass; and Option 2 (downhill into the ravine) on the way back down one week later. Personally, I found Option 2 to be MUCH BETTER. However, I'm not sure I took the exact Option 2 path described by Hobbes. Here is how Hobbes describes Option 2:

"You will come to the ravine at the turn of a switchback around 100 yards before the actual trail washout. Here you will see a path through the ravine and up the other side, where a use trail has developed into the talus/trees/bush. This is the route I took on the way up, and while it also takes around 15-20 minutes, the bushwhacking & talus climb is all standard stuff."

My version of Option 2 looked like the following. (This narrative is adjusted as if I were moving west up towards the pass rather than down east towards the trailhead.)

1. Descend straight down from the initial switchback to the bottom of the ravine, as described by Hobbes. There are ducks to follow.

2. Walk up-ravine, in the middle of the ravine, for about 3 minutes.

3. Get out of the ravine on the other side by following more ducks up a shallow exit.

4. Once on the other side of the ravine, a use trail will take you straight uphill to the official trail on the other side. 2 minutes. No bushwacking through plant life required.

This route was much more stable than up-and-over. No huge boulders waiting to dislodge straight out of the mud. And less steep in general. Ten minutes vs. 30 minutes.

Not sure I really "get" Option 3, though obviously it worked well for someone.

- Elizabeth
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Re: Shepherd Pass conditions

Postby Hobbes » Sat Aug 09, 2014 4:57 pm

oleander wrote:Not sure I really "get" Option 3, though obviously it worked well for someone.


O/E/L, I think my option 3 has morphed into your option 2. That is, the downhill hiker I described walked along the entire western edge to the point where he could cross straight-over to the 1st switchback.

From your description, it sounds like people are dropping into the ravine itself (rather than walking along the western edge) to/from the 1st switchback.

Either way, I think we're all in agreement that the previous path to the very top of the ravine totally BLOWS. Not only is it a PITA, but it's also potentially dangerous.

PS I now know why Tom K told me in an email that the crossing was no big deal. I had asked him if he taken the high or low road, and he replied high. Now, I know he's a legend and all, but I thought even very experienced people wouldn't shrug off the sucky high ravine path so casually.

Since he mentioned he just followed the cairns, I can now guess that he took the 'high' route as you described it from the 1st switchback, rather than the original "HIGH" route from the point of the washout.

Don't you feel special that you & Mav were among the pioneers traversing the suck ass route? LOL
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Re: Shepherd Pass conditions

Postby schmalz » Sat Aug 09, 2014 5:46 pm

Jim and I took "option 1" on the way down and found it incredibly easy. There is a use trail on both sides that goes uphill about 50 feet, and then there is a use trail that cuts across the washout.

I'd say the washout delayed us 5-10 minutes total and neither of us felt sketched out by any part of it.
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