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Taboose vs. Sawmill vs. Baxter vs. Shepherd Passes

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Re: Taboose vs. Sawmill vs. Baxter vs. Shepherd Passes

Postby richlong8 » Fri Apr 12, 2013 6:05 am

acvdmlac wrote:Thanks y'all for the responses! It's been hard to find much info on these passes, I guess for the obvious reason that they aren't very popular because they are so demanding.


These books have adequate info on the passes: Sierra South, Kings Canyon National Park by Mike White, and any of the older Wilderness Press trail guides.



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Re: Taboose vs. Sawmill vs. Baxter vs. Shepherd Passes

Postby oleander » Fri Apr 12, 2013 10:09 am

I absolutely love Baxter Pass, though it is not for everyone.

It has not been maintained for years, so some short sections of trail are washed out. You end up walking on use-trails through talus or meadow. If losing the trail sounds intimidating, this pass may not be for your group.

It is pretty steep as a hike, but not exposed. A friend of mine that gets vertigo/fear descending the south side of Forrester Pass does not have a problem with Baxter.

We looked pretty assiduously for campsites. They are impossible to find, as the whole canyon is steeply sloped. The only adequate campsite we found is at about 8000 feet, immediately adjacent to (south side of) trail, under some trees. It is very obvious (you don't have to go looking for it). I'm told you might find some spots at 10,000 feet. We looked and did not find. If I were hiking that canyon again I absolutely would not count on finding any camping other than the one at 8k, unless maybe I was hiking alone with a very small tent or bivy.

I would much rather go down it than up. Looking down that canyon the whole way is the thrilling part.

- Elizabeth
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Re: Taboose vs. Sawmill vs. Baxter vs. Shepherd Passes

Postby richlong8 » Fri Apr 12, 2013 10:15 am

It has been some years since I did Baxter, but I did find some decent space by the creek to make a camp, somewhere above 10,000 feet, thought I don't remember the details. Baxter Pass is one of the two areas I have been fortunate enough to see bighorn sheep. The lake basin on the west side is nice, and you won't see many people, ...peak baggers have a few options from the lake basin as well.
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Re: Taboose vs. Sawmill vs. Baxter vs. Shepherd Passes

Postby Hobbes » Sun Apr 14, 2013 10:08 am

BigMan wrote:Is it fairly likely that the top of Shepherd will be snow-free come mid-August? Is it technical without snow?


June 5, 2012. Those post holes are around knee-crotch - kicked step each one very deliberately, with weight leaned in and pole bracing outside. It's a long way down - maybe 750-1k ft.

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Personally, I would go up Shepherd and out (Whitney) Portal. Easy shuttle, lots of scenery, and no problem getting exit permits out of the Whitney zone.

If that doesn't sound appealing, then in via Bishop/Taboose & out Shepherd. Harder (read: more expensive) to shuttle, longer distances & a lot of people around Rae Lakes (of course, Whitney has a ton, but it's part of the package).
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Re: Taboose vs. Sawmill vs. Baxter vs. Shepherd Passes

Postby cloudlesssky » Wed Apr 24, 2013 8:11 pm

maverick wrote:Sawmill has the pretty Woods Lakes going for it, but one needs to hike a good
distance to get to the first water source. Plus it starts at the lowest elevation which
punctuates the necessity of getting a very early start.


After trying Baxter and Taboose trails so far this spring I'm thinking that Sawmill should be next. Probably in a week or two (early or mid May) if I can get a kitchen pass. If there is snow around 10,000 ft like the other two will it be passable without technical snow climbing (crampons, etc) required?
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Re: Taboose vs. Sawmill vs. Baxter vs. Shepherd Passes

Postby cahikr » Fri Apr 26, 2013 7:44 am

After trying Baxter and Taboose trails so far this spring I'm thinking that Sawmill should be next. Probably in a week or two (early or mid May) if I can get a kitchen pass. If there is snow around 10,000 ft like the other two will it be passable without technical snow climbing (crampons, etc) required?[/quote]


Thinking about hiking up Taboose pass in a few weeks, is the trail passable without crampons, would micro spikes be helpfull?
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Re: Taboose vs. Sawmill vs. Baxter vs. Shepherd Passes

Postby maverick » Fri Apr 26, 2013 10:16 am

Hi Cahiker,

Here is Kathy W's TR in which she climbed Taboose/Cardinal 4/12: http://www.highsierratopix.com/communit ... f=1&t=9151
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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Re: Taboose vs. Sawmill vs. Baxter vs. Shepherd Passes

Postby maverick » Fri Apr 26, 2013 10:33 am

Hi Cloudlesssky,

The only one that is really technical when snow is present is Shepherd. Staying on
route will be the challenging part if there is a lot of snow which may not be the
case this year, but if you carry a gps than finding the correct route near the summit
will not be a big deal. If there is a lot of snow timing is important factor, to early
you may have a hard snow & ice mix, to late especially on a warm day it could be
exhaustive postholing.
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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Re: Taboose vs. Sawmill vs. Baxter vs. Shepherd Passes

Postby cloudlesssky » Sat Apr 27, 2013 4:55 pm

cahikr wrote:Thinking about hiking up Taboose pass in a few weeks, is the trail passable without crampons, would micro spikes be helpfull?


I went up with a couple friends last week. We lost the trail off and on above 10,000 ft but with a little rock scrambling and hiking across the snow we made the pass. We didn't use (or need) microspikes or any other special snow gear - the snow was pretty soft by the time we hit it. Postholing was a minor problem in just a few random spots.
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Re: Taboose vs. Sawmill vs. Baxter vs. Shepherd Passes

Postby hurricaniac » Sun Apr 28, 2013 8:47 pm

The saddle between Symmes Ck and Shepherd Ck (before the demoralizing downhill) has a killer view of Williamson:
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