2020 Backcountry Conditions Reports

Questions and reports 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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maverick
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Baxter Pass 6/10

Post by maverick » Thu Jun 18, 2020 11:40 am

Posted by Pete Kirkham on SNCC-TPP:
A buddy and I decided to climb Baxter Pass, just to the north of Lone Pine, as a day hike on Wednesday June 10. This is the last of the four "nasty passes" I wanted to climb, see http://cholla.mmto.org/hiking/sierras/trips/nasty.html We camped at the trail head at about 6k and it actually got chilly there during the night. We left the trail head at 6 am and summited the pass around 5 hrs later. The last section is very steep climbing 1000' in about .7 miles!! We only encountered snow right at the top at about 12,290'. There are also a couple of gnarly stream/creek crossing that you have to negotiate in the first 3 miles so beware.
We saw only one other person that day, I don't think this trail gets much use at all. Here's my Strava link for a GPX file if anyone is so inclined to hike this pass as there are some areas where the trail is very indistinct: https://www.strava.com/activities/3595219602
Lone Pine is very quiet but there are restaurants open for dining-in or take out. 395 is also very quiet with driving made very easy...maybe it will be getting busier in the future with more businesses opening up.


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I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

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tomba
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Bishop Pass, Dusy Basin, Knapsack Pass, Palisade Basin 6/13-6/16

Post by tomba » Thu Jun 18, 2020 9:35 pm

On the switchbacks near Bishop Pass there is a stretch of steep snow that could be bypassed by cutting one switchback by scrambling on rocks (we didn't do it, but wished we did it on the way back when snow got too soft (we had trekking poles)). One dayhiker turned back due to this snow patch, and one day hiking couple donned microspikes for this stretch. Most people went through.

On NW side of Knapsack Pass there were some annoying snow patches but they all turned manageable or avoidable. On the way back we stayed high under Columbine Peak to avoid late afternoon soft snow.

In Palisade Basin we decided that it was too much snow above 11800 ft and stayed below that. I postholed once next to a rock edge and got a bruise and a cut on my shin. It was completely avoidable. I got careless after walking on firmer snow earlier in the day.
Last edited by tomba on Thu Jun 18, 2020 9:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Tableland 6/5-6/8

Post by tomba » Thu Jun 18, 2020 9:39 pm

We visited the two lakes west of Big Bird Lake and Moose Lake. We didn't have any notable difficulties due to snow or otherwise.
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Lodgepole-Mt. Silliman- Ranger Lake Tirp Video 6/11-6/14

Post by maverick » Fri Jun 19, 2020 11:29 am

Posted by Jarl Aanestad on SNCC-TPP:
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I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org

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South Lake / North Lake Loop 6/15-6/21

Post by maverick » Mon Jun 22, 2020 11:26 am

Posted on SNCC-TPP by Bill Hierl:
Finished South lake to North lake. Was out from 6/15 - 6/21. Weather was perfect and very few mosquitoes above 10k but was attacked in the valleys and in tree line.

Bishop Pass- one small patch of about 30 yards on the switch backs that was angled and can be a little sketchy if you over think it but very manageable with boots and poles. Then only a small patch towards the summit very easy. No spikes needed.

Muir Pass- snow started around Helen lake and on up to Muir pass and onto the other side. Probably about 2 miles total of snow then just patches around Wanda and down to Evolution. A little route finding needed but overall pretty easy and very fun. I would go over the pass early while snow is still hard or else you will post hole. We had spikes but didn’t need them but do what makes you feel safe. I’m not super experienced with snow travel and was able to do it with boots and poles.

Steam crossings all pretty easy with mostly rock hoping and log crossings. Evolution Creek was around knee high and not super swift. Pretty easy crossing overall and only one where I had to get wet.

Had no snow all the way to Piute pass. Small snow field near summit on the side coming up from North Lake. Maybe 50 yards. Nothing needed at all.

Trip was amazing saw very few people out there which was also nice. Met the ranger in Mclure meadow who said they all just arrived at their cabins on Thursday. They all have signs regarding Covid and not to approach unless there’s an emergency but it was definitely more protocol. He was going to put a bell out there for hikers.
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Professional Sierra Landscape Photographer

I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org

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Finger Lake / Middle Palisade 6/19-6/21

Post by maverick » Tue Jun 23, 2020 10:53 am

Posted by George Doehne on SNCC-TPP:
Did Middle Palisade on Friday, spending 3 nights at Finger Lake. Mosquitos are pretty bad right now, from Willow Lake all the way up to 11k or so. Snow coverage is very patchy and melting fast, I brought axe + crampons but was able to do the whole climb in trail runners only. Rockfall was fairly common—bring a helmet even if day-hiking or solo. Beyond that, it's beautiful up there!
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Professional Sierra Landscape Photographer

I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org

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Chain & Breeze Lake 6/19-6/21

Post by maverick » Tue Jun 23, 2020 10:55 am

Posted by Ross Hutcheon on ESHB:
Chain Lakes & Breeze Lake (Yosemite) backpacking. 19-21 June.
Unfortunately someone stole our small cooler from the trailhead bear locker at Quartz Mtn trailhead (definitely not a ‘drive by’ given the road to the trailhead is blocked 1/4 mile from the trailhead by a downed tree).
Mosquitos were out in squadron strength & coordinating attacks!
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Professional Sierra Landscape Photographer

I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org

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Shepherd Pass to Mt. Williamson 6/25-6/26

Post by maverick » Mon Jun 29, 2020 11:21 am

Michael McGraw posted on SNCC-TPP:
Shepherd Pass Trailhead to Mount Williamson. 6/25-6/26. Hiked in and camped at Williamson Bowl. Lingering snowfield on Shepherd Pass that was mostly avoidable. Summited the next day and hiked back out the same day. One snowfield in the chute of Williamson that can largely be avoided. A touch of ice and snow in the chimney. Lingering snowfield on the ridge that was completely avoidable. Took ice axe and crampons but never took them out of the bag. No mosquitoes in the alpine.
Tyndall had snow on the common rib route that looked like it could be avoided. Also had some interesting snow chutes on the east that looked doable.
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Professional Sierra Landscape Photographer

I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org

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Red Slate 6/26-6/28

Post by 96avs01 » Thu Jul 02, 2020 12:30 pm

Did Red Slate last weekend. Some patches of snow on the trail above 11K before the switchbacks to McGee Pass. Otherwise snow-free to the summit. Bugs were quite healthy at Big McGee when the wind wasn't blowing.
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Re: 2020 Backcountry Conditions Reports

Post by commonloon » Tue Jul 07, 2020 5:37 pm

I did a 4 night trip/route including the Sierra High Route from Road's End to Palisades Lakes, then JMT up to Black Giant Pass then back via the Middle Fork Kings trail thru Granite Basin and back to Road's End. Snow was mostly gone, never wanted ice axe or microspikes/crampons. Lots of bushwhacking on the Middle Fork trail; a trail crew has repaired the trail where there was a big rockfall last year. No water between Simpson meadow and Dougherty Meadows whatsoever. Mosquitos were epically bad in many of the meadows and surrounding areas: Marion Lake, Dougherty Meadows, Granite Basin, etc. You could hear them. I broke camp the last day at 6am because they were swarming above my face while I tried to sleep in, in my bivy. Oh, Middle Fork seemed crossable near Simpson Meadow.

I may put together a TR when I have more time. Get out there!

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