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George Creek today

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Re: George Creek today

Postby Hobbes » Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:32 am

Thanx for the information. Do you know who created the recommendation that suggests an alternative just to the north of the USGS location of Vacation pass?

The recess just before the Vacation pass recess - the shortest route to the flat shoulder - looks like a vertical cliff. So, it seems like you'd head up the 'standard approach' Vacation pass recess, but veer right to hit the flat shoulder north of the USGS location.

That being said, my photo, your 3D panorama & Earth still makes the down-slope to Wallace look very steep, so who knows?



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Re: George Creek today

Postby tomba » Mon Apr 13, 2015 10:04 pm

If you click on the yellow pin on the linked map, it shows the source of the this information.
The text in the HST map is the same as the description in the guide book by Secor.
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Re: George Creek today

Postby Hobbes » Tue Apr 14, 2015 7:28 am

Vacation pass provides a good example of a couple of issues at play when considering route selections.

First of all, there seems to be no basis for determining who actually is reporting the information. If someone had actually been up/over the pass, and was reporting on a personal basis, then the confidence level would be that much higher. For instance, Bob Burd has a good trip report about going up George creek, but he headed north to summit Barnard & Trojan. (I believe Kathy W did a similar trip). But I can't find a first-hand trip report like that about VP.

Secondly, this particular part of the Sierra is very remote. Even though the area is a known fishing mecca, I didn't see any evidence of prior fishing (eg trampled grass, use trails, etc). The only people there were those attending the meet-up. So, if anything were to happen, you'd be very much on your own.

Thirdly, if one were simply exploring the area - perhaps spending some time summitting the various peaks - then finding VP a little more daunting than expected wouldn't be a deal breaker. You could simply retreat and go up any of the other standard routes. However, if one were using VP as an access point merely to start the beginning of an extended trip, then any surprises could end/delay a trip right there.

A good example of someone reporting first-hand information is Doug Thompson developing a path under Langley. He did it a few times, told some others, and they did it in turn with extensive photos & maps. If VP had that kind of knowledge base, then I think the confidence level would be that much higher. Absent that, someone checking around to see if it was a suitable access point would probably defer to a more common route.
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Re: George Creek today

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Apr 14, 2015 8:51 am

From what I remember that I have read on Vacation Pass, the "route" is north of the pass marked on the map. The believe the flat to the north of the serrated ridge is the route - fairly easy from the east. Looks ugly on the west. Topo and Google Earth show the steepness, but hard to tell about the stability of the scree-boulders. Is it dangerously loose? Is it rock hard (like Sky Pilot Pass), or a "scree-ski" like Pants Pass?

Hobbs - the reason I was considering Vacation Pass is that I had planned a trip up George Creek anyway and thought I could combine this with the meet-up, not necessarily to find the shortest access from the east. I am coming to the conclusion that a separate George Creek trip is a better plan. To keep one trip under 10 days and still spend 2 days at the meet-up, leaves little time to really enjoy George Creek. But thanks for looking into this and digging up old photos.
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Re: George Creek today

Postby Hobbes » Tue Apr 14, 2015 3:24 pm

Alright, I stated digging around a little bit, and to not much surprise, I still haven't come up with a firsthand account of anyone actually descending/ascending Vacation pass. Here are some excerpts for your consideration:

If using the John Muir trail and the unmaintained Wallace Creek trail to approach the west side of the peak, the obvious choice is to cross via Vacation Pass which is about a ¼ mile north of the low point that lies just north of Carl Heller.

West Slope: Class 3 to 5+. The western slope of Carl Heller is “guarded” by granite cliffs at the lower elevations. These cliffs can be bypassed by climbing up one of the chutes that leads from the southern end of Wallace Lake. The ribs toward the north end of the west slope are rated in the 5s according to R.J. Secor. The northwest ridge (south of the peaklets) is described as class 4. The enjoyable class 3 route leads up the southwest side of the peak over blocky granite. Careful route finding is required to keep this class 3 but this is good route to ascend and descend the peak


http://www.summitpost.org/mt-carl-heller/406145

You can access Heller from the "whitney zone" and traveling cross country over the russell Carrillion Pass. We linked a trip to this area with a climb of Mt. Carl Heller and Tulainyo Tower and crossed over Vacation Pass [note neither descent/ascent] and up and over the top of the east peak of Mt. Barnard prior to descending down talus and sandy slopes to that camp.

http://www.mountainproject.com/v/mt-car ... /109336683

And the capper, an actual reference to Secor on a SPS hike:

We were a group of four, Daryn Dodge, Steve Eckert, R.J. Secor and myself. With three list finishers in the group one objective was to explore unlisted peaks and some new routes on SPS peaks. In particular, Mt Carl Heller was our goal since it is a challenging climb and there were no previous trip descriptions in the SPS Archives or on climber.org. All six peaks we climbed are in the vicinity of Tulainyo Lake, l.5 mi NE of Mt Whitney.

Three of us descended Tunnabora, headed west to a steep 200m drop off toward Wallace Lake but contoured NW above the lake at about 3700m. There is a multitude of peaks along the ridge and from nearby it is not easy to decide which one is the highest. However, it is no problem with a GPS. We first attempted an ascent over smooth granite slabs straight up to the summit but soon realized that this got us into class 4 terrain. Then we followed R.J.'s advice to ascend a broad chute southwest of the summit. But from the base one cannot see a broad chute, only narrow gullies at the southern end of the granite slabs. We ascended one, starting at UTM 11 383796E, 4052080N, 12,391'. Halfway up to the ridge we turned left since the gully led to a wrong peak. We climbed over a small ridge, which led into the mentioned broad chute SW of the summit. Now the correct peak became visible. Its south face consists of nearly vertical granite columns. After ascending the broad cl 2 chute to the ridge we climbed north on the cl 3 ridge until we ran into the vertical walls. Luckily, there were narrow ledges along the broken vertical slabs. We contoured parallel to the wall until we found a tilted slab, which could be ascended with a layback. After this short c14 move we were on the true ridge and very soon on the summit. There we found an SPS cylinder and were eager to read the book, but to our disappointment it was also stolen. Since we had no more register books, we left a signed sheet of paper in the cylinder. By radio we contacted R.J. on the neighboring peak. We enjoyed the views, the fine weather, a snack, then descended the same route that we came up. Daryn got a few scratches when a big boulder tumbled down. Then it was a long XC hike out from near Wallace Lake to Russell-Carillon Pass. Steve was feeling the altitude. By 6:30pm the last made it over the pass and by 7:30pm we were in camp by last daylight.


http://angeles.sierraclub.org/sps/archives/sps01847.htm

So, lots of references to VP, but I can't seem to find any information of anyone actually going up & over it. The only personal accounts are from (very) experienced climbers hitting C Heller, and they only mention VP in passing.

It would be really interesting if a regular, non-climbing hiker with a full pack went up there and actually did the route over VP to Wallace. On the other hand, strike that; if an actual, non-rumored route was established, the fishing would be compromised. Perhaps it would be best to allow VP to remain amongst the mysto spots and maintain accessing the area as a 2-day hike.
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Re: George Creek today

Postby ExploreABitMore » Tue Apr 14, 2015 3:42 pm

Hobbes wrote: I still haven't come up with a firsthand account of anyone actually descending/ascending Vacation pass.


I believe Bob Burd did when they climbed Mt Carl Heller. Ascended E Ridge, went down other side and came back up and over Vacation Pass. Assuming I am remembering things correctly, this TR might cover some details:

http://www.snwburd.com/bob/trip_reports ... ler_1.html
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Re: George Creek today

Postby maverick » Tue Apr 14, 2015 3:58 pm

Could not remember who had posted a great TR to the area and had a class 2 alternative route down to Wallace
and then it clicked, bingo: viewtopic.php?f=14&t=9823&p=73840#p73840
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Re: George Creek today

Postby Hobbes » Tue Apr 14, 2015 4:43 pm

I also found a TR from Bob Burd. Rather than descend the steep E arete from Heller, it looks like both parties climbed down the SW route, passed along the north shore of Wallace, then ascended Vacation pass:

But the East Ridge [of Heller] would be a bit dicey for a descent, and the easier descent is off the west side, and further from the trailhead. After descending several thousand feet it would be necessary to then hike back up and over Vacation Pass to the north of the peak. I was not looking forward to this last ascent and knew the others would be even less so. The West Face did not turn out to be the crappy talus descent I was expecting. It was steep and fun, and class 3 in many places - and would surely make a good ascent route in its own right. From a short conversation I'd had with Rick a month earlier, I knew he'd run into trouble on the descent when he attempted to traverse towards Vacation Pass while still too high on the West Face. He'd gotten some sketchy cliffs to negotiate for his trouble. Even knowing this, I initially did the same thing, wandering north while still 1/3 of the way up the West Face. But rather than starting to negotiate the cliffs, I made the decision to abandon that altogether and turned back to the southwest. I finished up descending easier ground to the south side of Wallace Lake - a longer route, but probably faster in the long run. I skirted the east side of the frozen lake, then steeled myself for the long climb back up to Vacation Pass.

I was fortunate to have had the time to peruse the summit register for some time, for among the usual entries was a critique about guidebook authors not doing enough to help poor slobs get through the cliff band on the west side of Vacation Pass. I took this to mean that they had climbed to the wrong notch and found an unclimbable dropoff on the east side. From my own visual sightings of the pass from the east side, I knew it was impossible to miss the pass if one moved sufficiently north along the ridgeline. So I resolved to avoid the notches along the ridge nearer to Carl Heller, aiming for an ascending traverse across. This worked out quite nicely. I had to take frequent short rests during most of the ascent, but my energy level felt pretty good, not as exhausted as I've been on other long outings. The terrain heading up the west side was actually pretty good. Not altogether as solid and interesting as Carl Heller's West Face, but not the talus slog it could have been.

My feet by this time were soaked from all the soft snow I had plowed through around Wallace Lakes. They would likely remain soaked for the rest of the day. I normally wouldn't care if I was heading home afterwards, but I still had three days of hiking to follow, so I had to manage my feet a bit more carefully and not simply ignore them.

I got to the top of Vacation Pass around 3:40p. There was a second moment of elation in knowing the rest of the way back would be downhill.


http://www.snwburd.com/bob/trip_reports ... ler_1.html

Here's a good angled shot of Plateau Peak aka Vacation pass:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/becht/248 ... 5030251577

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Re: George Creek today

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Apr 14, 2015 6:37 pm

Thanks Mav. Funny, I read that trip report and I guess it just did not register in my head, that they had descended to Wallace Lake. Guess because if I were anticipating continuing on to Trojan and Barnard, dropping to Wallace Lake would require another huge elevation gain to get back on the ridge. But, again, this is an account of a day-hike/climb, not hauling a pack over the pass. In general, I prefer to go up the more difficult side of a pass, and descend the easier. Therefore, if I were to do Vacation Pass, I would go from west to east. Best plan may be to go in Shepherd Pass, on a trial, while your pack is heavy, and then come back over Vacation Pass when your pack is basically no more than a day-pack. Then you would have to walk the road back to Shepherd Pass or arrange for someone to pick you up. I also would not do Vacation Pass solo.

One thing we need to clear up is the "Vacation Pass" that each of us is talking about. By "Vacation Pass", I do NOT mean the location that is on the topo map. I mean crossing the plateau about half to quarter mile north. The Vacation Pass on the map is relevant IF you had climbed the east ridge of Carl Heller. If simply crossing the ridge, you would not choose to go to the pass as located on the map. From Google Earth, it is evident that it is a much easier approach on the east side if you simply climb north of the pass shown on the map.
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Re: George Creek today

Postby Hobbes » Wed Apr 15, 2015 6:35 am

Those were my thoughts as well: groups of base camp climbers, each ascending VP from the west.

Jim & I are planning on doing a quickie Taboose->Kearsarge hike in May. I was quoted $65 to get dropped @ the Taboose TH after parking our cars @ Onion. I'm not sure if you can access George creek from the Shepherd dirt road, or have to go straight from the 395. If you could get there on the Shepherd road, then I'm pretty sure he wouldn't charge much differently to follow you to the George TH where you could park your car, then simply drop you off @ Symmes (the Shepherd pass TH) on the way back to Onion valley road.

Shoot me a PM if you'd like the contact information.

Edit: Oops, didn't see the no-solo part. Well, perhaps you can get Kathy W to go with you. (She has photos posted here of Barnard from George creek on the same trip as Bob Burd's above: http://kathywing.smugmug.com/California ... /i-TK6jRr4) That would be a kick-ass trip report. I wouldn't be opposed either, except we're planning on hitting Kern basin on the way out.
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