2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES | High Sierra Topix  

2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

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: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Postby sparky » Fri Jul 29, 2011 9:37 am

Tablelands July 26 to 28.....conditions are great!!

Route taken was wolverton trailhead up through table meadows to just below moose lake, contouring low in buck creek canyon, ascending to pterodactyl intending to go to lonely lake and back out the high sierra trail. Shined lonely lake and just hopped up on all the ridges from pterodactyl pass to Ferguson canyon, then headed back out cutting my trip a day short.

Tablelands are mostly clear, snow is patchy above 10,800, moose lake was still icy but melting. Buck creek canyon is amazing. Lonely lake was clear, pterodactyl pass had a section of steep snow at the bottom which may or may not be avoidable. I didn't want to risk it. Smoke from the lion fire crept in effecting views from here, but the view from this pass is so beautiful even with the smoke. The lake that feeds into bigbird was still frozen, but melting. The meadows and flowers are exploding with water and color right now.
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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Postby markskor » Sat Jul 30, 2011 12:46 pm

Just returned 35 days/nights Yosemite...(eat your hearts out!). No rain at all...~32 at night (12,000) and perfect days.

Anyway, all is open to ~10,000 and waters are receding fast.
Problem is that the snow is real chitty now...water is percolating beneath everything, and this makes punching through all too easy. Watch out making the transition from granite to snow...keep away from the edges, and no crossing any snow bridges.
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Mono Pass to Silver Pass and out McGee Pass 7/24-7/29

Postby AuburnPhil » Sat Jul 30, 2011 7:31 pm

Route Taken: We went in at Mono Pass to the JMT, over Silver Pass to Tully Hole, and then out McGee Pass to the trailhead at McGee Creek. There was a lot of snow on Mono Pass but it was quite do-able if you're willing to endure the workout of a kilometer of snowcups on either side. Mono Creek was booming for most of its length, but our route crossed it so high near the pass that it was only knee deep. Our crossings over the feeder streams from the Northern recesses of Mono Canyon, like Hopkins Creek, were all passable - knee depth or lower. Silver Pass was snowcovered esp on North side, but there were LOTS of hikers on the JMT section of this hike. We even saw a team of 8 Korean hikers in matching day-glo outfits, and another group had a young boy about 8 years old.

Difficult Section encountered: We were the first group over McGee Pass this year - (we did see one set of single bootprints that seemed maybe weeks old). McGee Pass was very difficult for us as our exit route from the JMT. While there was relatively little snow in the 4.5 miles between Tully Hole and the Pass, which is approached from the South and the snow had mostly melted there, the basin on the outer (Eastern) side of the pass had 1.5 miles of uninterrupted snow in the 1500 foot drop from the Pass to Little McGee Lake at the top of McGee Creek canyon. I think it would be VERY difficult for anyone to use McGee Pass as an entrance route. If someone is considering this, they should def spend the previous night as high up McGee Creek as they can get from the trailhead, so as to minimize the herculean effort that must be made through the snow.

Special Equipment needed/used: Trekking poles are an absolute must in order to keep on one's feet. There was no need for any ice axes or crampons therde because the angle of slope in the basin would not lead to wild slides of great distance, but we planned this section for the afternoon when the snow is slushy and not icy. Anyone coming from either direction should wait until the afternoon. if this was done in the morning, crampons or microspikes might be needed.

Possible Alternative route: From Tully Hole, one could get out at Agnew Meadows on the JMT (18 miles) or the Duck Lake route to Coldwater Canyon (14 miles).

Mosquitoes were present at Pocket Meadow south of Silver Pass, and Tully Hole, but not oppressive.
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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Postby KathyW » Sun Jul 31, 2011 12:21 pm

sparky wrote:Tablelands July 26 to 28.....conditions are great!!

Route taken was wolverton trailhead up through table meadows to just below moose lake, contouring low in buck creek canyon, ascending to pterodactyl intending to go to lonely lake and back out the high sierra trail. Shined lonely lake and just hopped up on all the ridges from pterodactyl pass to Ferguson canyon, then headed back out cutting my trip a day short.

Tablelands are mostly clear, snow is patchy above 10,800, moose lake was still icy but melting. Buck creek canyon is amazing. Lonely lake was clear, pterodactyl pass had a section of steep snow at the bottom which may or may not be avoidable. I didn't want to risk it. Smoke from the lion fire crept in effecting views from here, but the view from this pass is so beautiful even with the smoke. The lake that feeds into bigbird was still frozen, but melting. The meadows and flowers are exploding with water and color right now.


Thanks for the report.

How bad were he mosquitoes? I'm thinking of starting on either the Alta Trail or the HST on Thursay or Friday and heading to Hamilton Lakes and then over Kaweah Pass to do the short climb up to Eagle Scout Peak. I'm just going to do an out and back trip. It sounds like getting up Eagle Scout Peak early in the morning will give me the clearest view with the Lion Fire still burning.
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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Postby Cross Country » Sun Jul 31, 2011 12:34 pm

If you get the chance you might want to fish the lake below ESP.
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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Postby oldranger » Sun Jul 31, 2011 10:12 pm

July 11-12 hit snow as low as 7900 feet going x-country between White Wolf and Morrison Creek.

July 14-17 Kaiser wilderness. Lake at 8,900 ft in s. facing basin was pretty much surrounded by snow.

July 18-29 Close to locked gate on NW flank of Hoffman Mt (out of Wishon), road blocked by 7 trees at 8,200 ft level. Patches of snow everywhere from 8200 ft and above. Frozen cocktails every night! route through Woodchuck country 99% off trail. Stream crossings no issue. Above 10,500 ft signifcant snow on n. side of passes but most passes were e/w. Much of the snow had suncups 3 ft + deep.

Tunemah Lake and lake just E of Hummingbird Pass were mostly frozen. Snow significantly reduced returning over Humingbird Pass (5 days after first crossing).

Saw same two people on days 2 and 3 last 9 days 0 people! The little I used trails there were no tracks except the first and 3rd days.

Mike
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Dusy/Palisade Basin July 28-31

Postby copeg » Mon Aug 01, 2011 6:58 am

Just got back from a trip into Palisade Basin. Less snow than I thought there would be, although there's still quite a bit up there. The highest lake in Palisade basin was still mostly iced over. All other lakes were thawed with a snowfield here and there along their shorelines. Rained every day, Saturday I was tent-bound for 5hrs waiting out the rain - so much so that streams were quite swollen Sunday and Long Lake rose enough to flood parts of the trail (sounds bad, but was easy to get around). Sunday forecast was for the same, and it was poring by 11:30 am

Mosquitos were pretty bad in lower Dusy and along the Bishop Pass trail - higher up in Dusy and in Palisade Basin they were surprisingly tolerable.

Could faintly smell smoke much of the time, although it wasn't visible by way of haze.

Route taken: Bishop Pass into and out of Dusy Basin, Knapsack Pass into out of Palisade Basin

Difficult section encountered: Bishop Pass is mostly snow free, a few easy patches to cross. Knapsack (Dusy side) had lots of snow up its gut, but can be bypassed by climbing to the left (as one ascends) amongst the shelves and boulder fields. Palisade side of Knapsack snow free if one veers to the left (northeast)

Special equipment needed/used: Brought ice axe and crampons, didn't use

Possible alternative routes: Thunderbolt col (Dusy side) still had a considerable amount of snow - Palisade side was relatively snow free.
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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Postby bmrlight » Mon Aug 01, 2011 12:00 pm

Thanks mshields for the great trip report and photos!

I was in the Ritter region the week after you (July 24-29) with my family, including kids age 11 and 13. We did fine with the snow on trails (which was greatest on the JMT between Shadow Creek and Garnet Lake) but were glad to have hiking poles.

We also encountered a lot of snow at Lake Ediza, where we had to cross snow bridges to get to our camp on the west side of the lake. The log bridge on that end was also under water. Between melting snow bridges and larger water flow in the streams, a reasonable amount of caution is in order.

Mosquitoes were in abundance just about everywhere - we ran through a fully spray can of DEET on our 6 day trip!

David
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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Postby apeman45 » Tue Aug 02, 2011 1:36 am

Just got back from a 4 day trip to Rae lakes via Kearsarge pass. Trail crews have done a great job clearing trees between Onion valley and Rae lakes. Glenn pass in good shape easily passable with hiking poles. Only small patches of snow on south side and 1 well trampled traverse directly on the north side of the pass and a few easily navigated patches down to Rae lakes. Got caught in that monsoon and was 500 feet below the south side of glenn pass when a good bit of lightning and hail pinned us down under our tent rainfly in the boulders on the switch backs. When the lightning moved on we made a run over the pass to set up camp at Rae lakes in the rain. Rained most of the day Saturday and Sunday and after way too much tent time we decided to hike all the way out Sunday. Ran into some southbound jmt ers at Rae who told us that they had 21 straight days of no rain until the storms came - my usual luck. They also said that all the stream crossings were reasonable with common sense but the snow was still substantial on muir pass (about 5 continuous miles) and that mather was still dangerous in their opinion with a steep 1000 foot accent in snow on the north side.

Fishing great in Charlotte and Rae lakes.

We camped 1 night at Charlotte lake and 2 at Rae lakes. Mosquitoes were pretty bad but not as bad as I expected but I have a high tolerance to bloodletting. I think they are close to peaking in Rae lakes area.

Also ran into lots of Rae lakes loop people that reported good conditions for the loop.
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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Postby bikebones » Tue Aug 02, 2011 7:31 am

Thanks for the report Apeman. I'm headed up Taboose Pass next Monday and will be spending a week around the Bench Lake area, north and south depending on what I find. Given the amount of snow on nearby Mather pass, it sounds as if my ice ax and crampons will be useful in spots. Appreciate your info!

Jim
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Anyone have current information on Horseshoe meadows to crab

Postby sealog » Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:09 am

Hi,
My name is Don Seawater from San Luis Obispo. A small group of us will be backpacking from horseshoe meadows through Whitney portal.
Does anyone know the current conditions or have a guess on September 8-18th? I am only slightly worried about the 100 switchback area on the east side of whitney where the cables are. But I/we haven't been to the miter basin or on that trail, and with this years rain, I wonder!
Best to you, and thank you!
Don
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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Postby apeman45 » Tue Aug 02, 2011 9:21 am

Hey Don

That's a great trip you have planned. I will be in Miter basin the week of September 4th -10th and not worried about snow conditions at that time at all - on the ground anyway. You should have great weather but anytime into mid September at that elevation be sure to get the latest forecast and be prepared for a snowstorm. I assume you are entering miter around Soldier lake and crossing crabtree pass and then making the long slog up the talus past discovery pinnacle to trail crest? An alternative is to not climb the hill and descend past the Crabtree lakes and rejoin trail at Crabtree meadows / Guitar lake etc. There is a use trail sometimes through miter basin but it is cross country and involves route finding. If you are not aware of this or comfortable off trail then consider staying on the trail through rock creek, over guyot pass and then into Crabtree meadows which is also a fun great hike. You won't save time by going the shorter distance through miter because off trail travel will be much slower.

The passes and Whitney trail will be in great shape barring any crazy weather - like a few days ago. They had to close the Whitney trail briefly on the east side a couple days ago due to a crazy / unusual monsoon storm that washed out parts of the trail and dropped some boulders on the portal road. It's all good now. For everything Whitney and the latest conditions check the message board at whitneyportalstore.com
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