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Hunker down or bail out?

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Re: Hunker down or bail out?

Postby rlown » Thu Oct 05, 2017 5:46 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:I too am mainly a "hunker down" proponent, EXCEPT in the Fall. I have done enough winter backpacking/mountaineering to have a high degree of respect for snow. Had I awoken to a foot you I would not have gone anywhere; but if the snow had just started and is lightly falling, so I could reach the trail from my off-trail location. I could have waited out the storm and taken the same route down to the trial the next day in better weather (but that is 20/20 hindsight). However, given how cold it was at 8600 feet (Sphinx Creek at trail), I am glad I was not at 11,000 feet (Big Brewer Lake)! Either day going out, Sphinx Pass would not have been safe so I was heading down to the Avalanche Pass trail, regardless.

And I guess you could classify me as the "lean and hungry" type. I am always hungry and eat a lot. Thankfully I did have lots of fuel. I took one of those huge fuel cannisters which lasts 10-11 days. The medium cannister only lasts me 6-7 days. And since I did not catch many fish (two small ones to be exact) my rations were pretty low.

But you are absolutely right, that if dry and warm, staying put keeps you dry and warm, for a few days, provided that your tent does not collapse with snow or start to leak or you do not run out of food or fuel.


I agree with everything you said. I've seen fuel canisters with the pin valve stuck open because of the cold (As recently as Sunday before last.) Tried screwing it back in for the women at the camp next to us. Just resulted in freezer burns on 3 fingers. If you're on a tank, your fuel goes from 6-7 days to zero.



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Re: Hunker down or bail out?

Postby oldranger » Thu Oct 05, 2017 7:35 pm

Daisy

Given your food supply your decision was reasonable. Certainly deciding not to go over Sphinx Pass was wise as the talus field on the north side would have been treacherous with a couple inches of snow. For me it would have been a toss up whether to head down to Roaring River or continue over Avalanche Pass.

The same storm struck markskor and me at Benson lake. Having plenty of food and fuel we chose to hunker down an extra day not knowing how much snow would be up Kerrick Canyon and at Peeler lake, our route out. Since the weather remained unseasonably cool much of the trail out remained snow and ice covered even 5 days after the storm.
Mike

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Re: Hunker down or bail out?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu Oct 05, 2017 8:45 pm

Old Ranger- I am anxiously awaiting your trip report!
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Re: Hunker down or bail out?

Postby oldranger » Mon Oct 09, 2017 10:34 pm

Daisy,

Unfortunately I am on the road and my pics are at home. So don't hold your breath. I still have a tr from last year to do as well.
Mike

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Re: Hunker down or bail out?

Postby SNOOOOW » Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:36 pm

Just my 2 cents but after labor day and definitely after mid Sept I always choose to bail. Typically this time of year I am out solo anyway because everyone (at least most people I know) is "done for the season" and I try to go until the snow stops me for the year. I usually regret my choice to bail when I do get home and find out the weather cleared or the dusting of snow melted but I always choose safety even if it means not tagging a summit or completing my route etc...A good example is this past Sept I was supposed to finish my last leg of a 9 day trip out at Young Lakes in Yosemite and chose to day hike out to Young Lakes and Ragged Peak and head home. If I would have stayed in the backcountry to see what the weather was going to actually do then I would have gotten snowed on (not too big a deal as I was prepared) but the pass closed and I would have not been able to get out the east side of 120 and home..Each situation is different as others have stated

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Re: Hunker down or bail out?

Postby apeman45 » Sun Oct 22, 2017 4:40 pm

I was caught in that same storm as Old Ranger and Markskor. Were you the guys carrying in the raft to Benson Lake for fishing? We knew a storm was possible but I heard a 20% chance. Knowing a "little" snow was possible we set up camp as far up Matterhorn Canyon as we could over 10k. My logic was we could hustle over Burro and Mule passes to our car at Twin Lakes if it started snowing. It did around midnight and we got about 8 inches and woke up to blue skies. Having never been over these passes it was either hunker down a day or two or go out a different way. The weather threatened more snow so we decided to retreat to the well trodden PCT 5 miles down the canyon and we exited at Tuolumne Meadows and hitch hiked back to our car. It wasn't windy and snowed a couple more inches the 2nd day it snowed so my guess is the passes had over a foot. Mid September and beyond hunkering may take longer as the cooler weather doesn't melt the snow as fast at high elevations. I was in the area 2 weeks later and the snow hadn't melted yet up high. It seemed to hit that area harder than others because I was in Tuolumne and Mammoth areas and the snow had mostly melted there. It was a great trip anyway and was snow free with great fishing 5 out of 8 days!
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Re: Hunker down or bail out?

Postby oldranger » Thu Nov 02, 2017 9:45 am

apeman45 wrote:I was caught in that same storm as Old Ranger and Markskor. Were you the guys carrying in the raft to Benson Lake for fishing? We knew a storm was possible but I heard a 20% chance. Knowing a "little" snow was possible we set up camp as far up Matterhorn Canyon as we could over 10k. My logic was we could hustle over Burro and Mule passes to our car at Twin Lakes if it started snowing. It did around midnight and we got about 8 inches and woke up to blue skies. Having never been over these passes it was either hunker down a day or two or go out a different way. The weather threatened more snow so we decided to retreat to the well trodden PCT 5 miles down the canyon and we exited at Tuolumne Meadows and hitch hiked back to our car. It wasn't windy and snowed a couple more inches the 2nd day it snowed so my guess is the passes had over a foot. Mid September and beyond hunkering may take longer as the cooler weather doesn't melt the snow as fast at high elevations. I was in the area 2 weeks later and the snow hadn't melted yet up high. It seemed to hit that area harder than others because I was in Tuolumne and Mammoth areas and the snow had mostly melted there. It was a great trip anyway and was snow free with great fishing 5 out of 8 days!


Using the raft was our plan for Rodgers, Benson, and Peeler. But commonsense said not to get anything wet with the cold and wind.
Mike

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Re: Hunker down or bail out?

Postby apeman45 » Fri Nov 10, 2017 9:45 pm

It was a privilege to meet you guys even though I didn't know it was you guys. You have entertained me with online stories for years. Hope you got in a little fishing before the storm.

For anyone interested to see how much snow we got I made a crappy video of our 8 day trip.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THsenOhTr34
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Re: Hunker down or bail out?

Postby Lumbergh21 » Fri Nov 10, 2017 11:24 pm

apeman45 wrote:It was a privilege to meet you guys even though I didn't know it was you guys. You have entertained me with online stories for years. Hope you got in a little fishing before the storm.

For anyone interested to see how much snow we got I made a crappy video of our 8 day trip.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THsenOhTr34


Not a crappy video at all. Looks like you guys had some fun and a bit of an adventure.
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