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2018 Backcountry Conditions Reports

Posted: Fri May 25, 2018 5:15 pm
by maverick
This is not a place to post trip reports, but a place for members to post current conditions experienced in the backcountry on recent trips.
This will give other members considering visiting, or traveling through that same location a heads up on difficult sections, so they can plan accordingly.

Please, do not request information about particular sections of interest that you are about to visit, your post will be deleted.

Copy and Paste the form below, and fill out the info.

Please include the area you visited and the dates of your trip in the "Subject section".

Route taken:

Difficult section encountered:

Special equipment needed/used:

Possible alternative routes:


Subject: Roads End>Rae Lakes>East Lake>Longley Pass>Sphinx Lakes 7/4-7/12

Route: Roads End-Upper Paradise Valley-Rae Lakes-Glen Pass-Junction Meadow-Lake Reflection-Longley Pass-Cinder Col-Sphinx Col-Sphinx Lakes-Roads End

Difficult section encountered on this trip:
- Lost of snow on northern side of Glen Pass icy in the morning hours.
- Bubbs Creek crossing very difficult, found the best crossing point 400 yards west of the usual low water crossing section.
- Big cornice encountered on Longley Pass, which was bypass by climbing rocky section north of the pass (class 3).

Special equipment needed/used:
- Ice Axe
- Crampons
- Trekking Poles

Possible alternative routes:
- When crossing Bubb's, I notice a section about 100 yards further west that looked much easier.
- Should have bypassed the cornice on the southern side, route looked barely class 2.

Re: 2018 Backcountry Conditions Reports

Posted: Sun May 27, 2018 1:05 pm
by Hobbes
Here are some pics from one of the first 2018 PCT hikers to make it to Sonora pass:

While the past two weeks have produced sporadic light showers, it's evident from the photos that snow levels are pretty low.

Big McGee Lake 5-26/27

Posted: Mon May 28, 2018 6:50 pm
by Flamingo
Subject: McGee Creek Trailhead to Big McGee Lake, May 26-27, 2018

See my full trip report here: ... =1&t=18243

Route: I started at McGee Creek TH Saturday afternoon, hiked ~4 miles and camped on dry ground near the SW shore of the unnamed lake at 9,980'. On Sunday morning, I used showshoes and continued to Big McGee Lake. I was prepared to climb Red Slate Mountain, but it started snowing.

Difficult section encountered on this trip:
- The trail is mostly snow-free until 9,900'. I was fine in running shoes until this point.
- Significant snow cover above 10,000' (drifts up to three feet deep). I definitely appreciated having snowshoes.
- Due to recent rain, the snow quality is rotten. Even with snowshoes, I frequently plunged up to 2 feet into drifts.
- I packed 12-point crampons, but did not need them. The snow was too rotten for crampons.

Special equipment needed/used:
- Snowshoes necessary, due to soft/rotten snow.
- Crampons for higher slopes

Bishop Pass Trail Conditions 5/26/18

Posted: Tue May 29, 2018 6:02 pm
by maverick
Report by Ayelet Bitton on SNCC-TPP:
We were near there on Saturday. Snow patches from pretty early on, then the snow gets pretty full on around Longs Lake. But not consistent enough for skis till at least ~4mi in. There's still a whole lot of snow up at the pass. Expect lots of post-holding.

Piute Pass Conditions 5/27/18

Posted: Tue May 29, 2018 6:08 pm
by maverick
Report by Peng Shi on SNCC-TPP:
Piute Pass trail report 5/27/18. patchy snow started just below Loch Leven. Postholing very manageable in the beginning, becoming increasingly difficult after Piute Lake. Not enough snow coverage to use snowshoes, just had to detour to look for dry ground or deal with postholing. Slow progress until 0.5 miles below Piute Pass. Enough snow coverage to switch to Snowshoes, very fast and easy ascend to the pass after that. The actual pass itself is snow free. Snow field still intact just below the pass on the west side. We saw two people who made it to the pass without snowshoes, but they seemed to be moving very slowly and potholing a lot.

Shepherd Pass 5/26/18

Posted: Tue May 29, 2018 6:35 pm
by maverick
Posted by Jorvak on WZ:
Here are some photos from my Tyndall climb of Shepherd Pass.
I ascended in micro spikes with trekking poles and descended with crampons and ice axe in the softer snow.

I ascended roughly along the trail route - some edges of the switchbacks are melted out in the rock patch and then tucked behind the gendarme.

On the descent I cramponed down the central line - the zip zag boot track is mine. The top section is the steepest and was a bit dicey in the micro spikes, especially when the cloud descended limiting visibility.

I met a couple folks at Shepherd Pass to ascend Tyndall with and met skier up there who climbed and skied Williamson and Tyndall that day- a very stout trip.

Definitively spring climbing conditions at the high passes and will be a bit before the melt out.
Trip photos: ... lqeU43bjNR ... ey_#UNREAD

Saddelbag Lake 5/29/18

Posted: Wed May 30, 2018 11:42 am
by maverick
Inyo NF:
There have been lots of questions about trails and campgrounds along Hwy. 120 on the forest. This photo of Saddlebag Lake, the resort, and the campground highlight that the high county remains under snow; especially on the northern end of the forest. Photo by Mike Sidlin taken 5/29.

Emigrant Wilderness from Crabtree Trailhead 5/26-5/28

Posted: Wed May 30, 2018 9:48 pm
by tomba
Route: Crabtree TH, Piute Meadow, Groundhog Meadow, outlet of Jewelry Lake confluence with Buck Meadow Creek, Jewelry Lake, Gem Lake, down to Buck Meadow Creek, Louse Canyon NW of Rosasco Lake, Piute Lake, back to TH.

Piute Creek was knee high. West Fork Cherry Creek at the trail crossing just above the confluence with Buck Meadow Creek was mid thigh high (in the deepest spot) and fast.

After the trail crosses Buck Meadow Creek (we haven't crossed it) we could see that it becomes completely covered with snow with no footprints. The cross country route towards Rosasco Lake from the outlet of Jewelry Lake looked too snowy for us to try (doable but miserable).

The crossing of West Fork Cherry Creek towards Rosasco Lake (cross country route in Louse Canyon, below confluence with Buck Meadow Creek) looked too deep/fast to cross.

Cottonwood Lakes>Army Pass 5/26-5/28

Posted: Sat Jun 02, 2018 12:43 am
by Love the Sierra
Route taken:

Cottonwood Lake 5 up Army Pass 5/26-5/28

Difficult section encountered:

Army Pass

Special equipment needed/used:

Crampons- Micro-spikes will not cut it. Go when the snow is HARD and frozen. If it is too soft, even your crampons will not give enough traction. Make sure that you have an ice axe or Whippett for Glissading down. You will be going too fast and must know how to self-arrest.

Possible alternative routes:
New Army Pass appeared better. We did not have time to go up so I cannot verify that the patches of snow we saw are not on the trail.

Cottonwood Lakes>New Army Pass 5/25

Posted: Sun Jun 03, 2018 6:17 pm
by Dmasten
Route taken:
New Army Pass via scenic route (TH>Muir Lake>Lakes3>4/5>3>1>Long Lake>New Army)

Difficult section encountered:
South side Long Lake, still lots of snow on trail. Softened early.
Cornice on New Army Pass. I met a group of well equipped hikers just below pass. They determined snow conditions were not safe for climbing with any equipment.

Special equipment needed/used:
Anti-gravity device?

Possible alternative routes:

Cross country up Cirque Peak looked feasible, snow-free.