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how early does the High Sierra Trail become doable ?

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

Postby TehipiteTom » Fri Jan 13, 2017 10:40 am

Stanley Otter wrote:SB,
Not sure if you know about the CA Dept of Water Resources web site – I have this page bookmarked to watch the snow water content updates:

http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cdecapp/snowapp/swcchart.action

A good planning tool and a fine spectator sport for those far from the action.

Dennis

The 82/83 and 14/15 points of comparison are very interesting there.

One more data point, for perspective: last year, which was wetter than the several years before it, April 1 SWEQ was 73% of normal; as of today, we're at 83% of April 1 normal. In other words, we already have more snow than we had all of last winter.



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

Postby oldranger » Fri Jan 13, 2017 12:58 pm

Tom your conclusion is probably not correct. Between storms the snowpack can lose water. So if there were no more storms for the rest of the year the SWEQ on April 1 is likely to significantly less than it is today. The only way to compare today with April 1 of last year is to compare total precipitation to date with total precipitation to April 1 last year. This isn't a measure of SWEQ but so far this year Mammoth Mt has had 248 inches of snowfall at the main lodge, last year by the end of March it had 342" of snow fall, so at least in terms of snow fall Mammoth (which of course is only a sample of the Sierra) has currently had a little less than 73% of the snowfall that occurred by April 1 of last year.

Gee I have way too much time on my hands to quibble with Tom like this! Better get back to shoveling snow!
Mike

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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.
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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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