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how early does the High Sierra Trail become doable ?

Discussion related to Sierra Nevada current and forecast conditions, as well as general precautions and safety information. Trail conditions, fire/smoke reports, mosquito reports, weather and snow conditions, stream crossing information, and more.
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Re: how early does the High Sierra Trail become doable ?

Postby TehipiteTom » Fri Jan 13, 2017 2:57 pm

LOL! I had a feeling someone would correct me on that. Fair point.

Better comparison: Southern region is at 197% of normal-to-date, 83% of April 1 normal; 1/13/16 was 90% of normal-to-date, 38% of April 1 normal.



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Re: how early does the High Sierra Trail become doable ?

Postby franklin411 » Wed Feb 01, 2017 6:05 pm

September's a good time I think. It's not just the snow...I'm thinking the water crossings will be a lot more dangerous with all the snow melt, and I dunno how water levels will remain elevated. I went on the HST to Big Arroyo in a dry year and the water-crossings were all ankle-splashers, but it was obvious from the stream-beds that the normal water level is much, much higher.

However, in all honesty, water concerns me more than snow. With snow, I can see there there's a ton of snow from miles off and turn around. With high water, you don't know whether you can make the crossing until you're right on top of it.
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Re: how early does the High Sierra Trail become doable ?

Postby Saltydog » Sun Mar 12, 2017 9:47 am

Nearest comparison for the HST to this year is 2011, although if anything I would assume that all snow pack, meting dates etc will be bigger and later than 2011. In July of that year, the crux of the HST was not Kaweah Gap or even Trail Crest, but about 50 feet of trail just above the Hamilton tunnel. As of July 10, there was a snow bridge across the trail right in that chute, requiring either crawling under with about 2 feet of clearance and a lot of cold running water below and dripping from above, or traversing over the snow bridge on a high angle with about 1000 feet of exposure. I chose none of the above. The bridge collapsed the day after I turned back from it, leaving only the exposed traverse option. Keep an eye on it but I would expect similar condition even later this year.
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Re: how early does the High Sierra Trail become doable ?

Postby Saltydog » Sun Mar 12, 2017 9:50 am

Nearest comparison for the HST to this year is 2011, although if anything I would assume that all snow pack, meting dates etc will be bigger and later than 2011. In July of that year, the crux of the HST was not Kaweah Gap or even Trail Crest, but about 50 feet of trail just above the Hamilton tunnel. As of July 10, there was a snow bridge across the trail right in that chute, requiring either crawling under with about 2 feet of clearance and a lot of cold running water below and dripping from above, or traversing over the snow bridge on a high angle with about 1000 feet of exposure. I chose none of the above. The bridge collapsed the day after I turned back from it, leaving only the exposed traverse option. Keep an eye on it but I would expect similar condition even later this year.

Oh, and the Buck Creek bridge was under 2 feet of water in the afternoons until at least July 8.
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Re: how early does the High Sierra Trail become doable ?

Postby sixthree175 » Thu Mar 30, 2017 4:36 pm

I committed to hiking the High Sierra Trail Sept. 9-16 with my California friends. I'm in excellent physical condition, but am afraid of narrow, exposed ledges. I'm reading that there are several (past Merhten Creek and around the Whitney area). I have hiking poles now. I've backpacked down the Grand Canyon and back up with a heavy pack and no poles. It was scary but bearable. How much worse is this hike in terms of "no margin for error". I expect that there will be no ice on trail this time of year.
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Re: how early does the High Sierra Trail become doable ?

Postby oldranger » Fri Mar 31, 2017 3:24 pm

Both parts you are concerned about were designed to handle pack animals. Doubt you should have a problem if you did ok in GC.
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
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Re: how early does the High Sierra Trail become doable ?

Postby Dave_Ayers » Fri Mar 31, 2017 5:36 pm

I came down Whitney with a person with a fear of heights a couple years ago. Whitney is not really exposed. The trail goes by several of the "windows" which look something like http://californiathroughmylens.com/wp-c ... dows-2.jpg , but you don't need to look through them if you don't like. Just focus your vision on the trail ahead and you'll be fine.
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Re: how early does the High Sierra Trail become doable ?

Postby sixthree175 » Tue Apr 04, 2017 6:21 pm

Thanks. Looks like it'll be a great experience.

Note: Around Columbus Day 2005 we went up the east side (via Whitney Portal) and camped at Trail Camp. The next morning I realized that there was significant ice on the 99 switchbacks, left over from a late September snow. I decided not to go up, being I'm afraid of ice, also. Seems like there is a narrow window of opportunity for the average backpacker to climb that mountain.
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