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 bheiser1 » Fri Aug 19, 2011 5:38 pm

no2haven, thanks for that description, it's very helpful. That's an area I'd like to check out one of these days and want to be sure I'm prepared... especially the way things are this summer.



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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Aug 20, 2011 8:06 pm

Contrary to what is on the SEKI website (they say solid snow above 10,500)- there is VERY little snow in Sphinx Creek basin and Brewer Basin. There are some snow patches on north slopes, a small amount of snow on north side of Sphinx Col, some snow on the top of Cinder Col, but dry the entire way up the north side. Meadows are lush, flowers at their peak, but not sloppy wet- the "swamp: is even dry to walk on. Bubbs Creek is still high. Smaller creeks are really down- did not even have to wade. Sphinx Creek trail is in good condition. Both of the basins are lush, green, but with very little soggy spots. The snow is hard in the morning, but if low angle, it has enough dust on it to still walk on it. It softens with sun, but only to the point of sinking in a few inches. Suncups are about mid-calf to thigh deep.
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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Aug 20, 2011 8:12 pm

Forgot to add- NO smoke! very nice clear air the entire trip.
Route- Roads End-Sphinx Creek-upper Sphinx Lakes, Sphinx Col, Brewer Basin, Big Brewer Lake, Cinder Col -- back out . Aug 14-20.
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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Postby mattherrington » Sun Aug 21, 2011 4:04 pm

HST Cheater via Pants Pass

Bearpaw Mdw is a crappy camp w no view
Clear to lower Precipice Lake
Light/Easy/Patchy over Kaweah Gap
W Side approach to Pants Pass is practically clear
E Side of Pants was 200 vertical ft. descent of 40 degree scree and then miles of sun cupped snow (which prob saved us tons of trouble). We descended to the NE and by the time we got to the steep area prior to it becoming a river it was clear and dry. Snow probably above ~11,000.
Camped at 10,400 right in the timberline S of a feeder ck that comes from the elevated lake between Colby Pass and Triple Divide Pk - gorgeous area
Really horribly buggy that night well past dark and starting at 7A down from there almost to Junction Mdw
Junction Mdw was hot mid-day
back up to Wallace Ck Camp where it was really buggy in the evening
early departure to beat the bugs to Crabtree was a success
Crabtree at lunch up to Guitar Lake was bug free
Whitney day 8/19 looked like it was going to get afternoon rain but we didn't see it as we were at the portal at 5P.

No crossings above the knee other than a late afternoon crossing at the feeder ck 1 mi W of Wallace Ck Camp. Successful trip other than a blistered lip from the snow descent.
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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Postby Sierra_Summits » Mon Aug 22, 2011 9:57 pm

just went over ruskie pass, white bear pass, gabbot pass, shout of relief, and bighorn and all had some patches of snow but nothing to steep or difficult to navigate around. ruskie has a gully of snow from the lower lake all the way to the top. all i had was a set of trekking poles and was fine. i did all the passes in the afternoon which made it easy. i actually preferred to be on the snow. i had a great trip hope this helps someone.

drew
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P1060495-1.JPG
south side of white bear pass. it is pretty steep, just take your time and you can pick your way down. a stiff class 2.
P1060556-1.JPG
west side of big horn pass was pretty easy as well. we had to descend down to the bottom of the snow field and then ascend up twords shout of relief pass.
P1060469-1.JPG
here is a shot of the south side of ruskie pass, it has a snow gully all the way to the top. we took the right side up to the top.
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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Postby cgundersen » Tue Aug 23, 2011 10:23 am

Drew,
Those photos definitely should help some folks, but more of interest: I was camped by the inlet to Teddy Bear last Thursday (the 18th) and two folks arrived at Brown Bear in near darkness. Was that you?
cg
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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Postby Sierra_Summits » Tue Aug 23, 2011 1:19 pm

Yup I think it was! My buddy and i ate dinner on the pass and then came down to the south side of the lake to camp. there were 2 guys ahead of us and they said they were going to camp at lake italy for the night. that was our only bug free night of camping...it was great! I love that whole area!

drew
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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Postby cgundersen » Tue Aug 23, 2011 1:47 pm

Drew,
Wow, small world! The two guys in front of you joined us in going over Cox col and it made for a fun day. Can't wait to get back!
cg
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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Postby Xosob » Wed Aug 24, 2011 4:32 pm

Route taken: Postpile to Minaret Lake via Minaret Trail, back to JMT N to Garnet Lake outlet then along N side of Garnet to Garnet Pass over to W side of Thousand Island, along N side of Thousand Island to JMT N over Donohue to Lyell Canyon, out to Toulumne

Difficult section encountered: Trivial snow patches at outlet of Minaret Creek, easily avoided snow at N side of Garent Pass, slushy snow near top of Donohue
Water crossing posed no problems by thinking first and then using rocks/logs/easy jumps (for someone w/ long legs), never got water in boots

Special equipment needed/used: Brought ice axe & microspikes, never used.

Possible alternative routes: Class 3 move at top of narrow slot leading from Minaret to Cecile was more than I was willing to tackle solo, so skipped Cecile to Iceberg to Nydiver to Whitebark Pass section originally planned. Glad to have avoided Whitebark -- quite a bit of snow on N side, unclear how easy it would have been to go to E of the snow fields. I have photos, but w/ my current internet connection the link died and I had to retype this msg.

Great weather, few bugs (using Deet, but otherwise in shorts and tee shirt almost entire time). Trip report to follow over Labor Day weekend.
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Harrison Pass

Postby quentinc » Wed Aug 24, 2011 9:30 pm

Route: Kearsarge Pass, Forester Pass, unnamed pass to Lake South America, Harrison Pass, East Lake trail to Junction/Vidette Meadow.

Forester had some snow but was easy. Harrison appeared to be suicidal at first glance (this is the view taken from the low point on the ridge; the actual pass is to the east and a bit higher):

Image

And near suicidal when viewed from the top:

Image

But there was a route down along the (left) side that avoided the nearly vertical snowfield:

Image

No other issues. A detour 100 feet south on crossing Bubbs Creek led to a spot that wasn't too swift and was mid-thigh deep.
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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Postby cgundersen » Thu Aug 25, 2011 3:16 pm

quentin,
Did you by any chance try the ridge north of Caltech Peak as a short cut to Lake South America? Even though it would cut off lots of trucking, it's always looked a bit dicey. But maybe someone's tackled it with a pack (like, you)?
Also, last time in that area, I tried Ericsson col rather than Harrison Pass and it's maybe a tad easier. Worth a shot when H is looking as ugly as it looked there.
cg
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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Postby quentinc » Thu Aug 25, 2011 10:46 pm

CG -- do you mean the ridge south of Caltech? The ridge north looks pretty steep with a lot of elevation gain. Even with the ridge south, in retrospect it would have been better to have curled around a bit further to the south to avoid a lot of up and down (and some talus). But it's way better than taking the JMT down to that windy "cut-off" trail.

Is Ericson Col the chute just east of Mt. Ericson? I looked down the various gullies from the ridge between Gregory's Monument and Ericson, and none of them looked great. Also, I didn't realize there was another "recognized" route down from that ridge, and I've gotten myself into enough trouble in the past by freelancing. ;)
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