Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

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Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

Post by East Side Hiker » Tue Nov 02, 2010 8:13 am

The notes on the worst switchbacks has been interesting. Switchbacks "usually" lead to Passes, and Passes (in addition to peaks) are what I like. Thus I usually daon't mind switchbacks. I like the way the blue sky keeps growing and growing, and, if it isn't a false pass, suddenly the world opens up to a myriad of peaks.

So it made my think, what do people think are the Best, or Worst, Passes in the Sierra? I kind of like Shepherd Pass.

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Re: Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

Post by quentinc » Tue Nov 02, 2010 11:37 am

I thought I was the only one on the planet who liked Shepherd's Pass! I think it would be my favorite if it weren't for the absurd switchbacks between Mahogany Flat and Anvil Camp (which I complained about on the other thread). So I think I'll go with Lamarck Col.

The advantage of the hard passes is fewer people and way less mule crap, but I also find them both to be really beautiful. For easy passes, I guess I'd go with Piute. I also like McGee.

Least favorite: Pine Creek (not the pass itself, but the tungsten factory trail).

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Re: Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

Post by Ozark Flip » Tue Nov 02, 2010 12:19 pm

Easiest IMHO:

Hardest IMHO:

Any pass which gains 6K elevation is going to get your attention, so it is worse. Or is it best because of where you end up?

I went over Lamark Col last year and I struggled mightly. It sure doesn't gain the elevation of many other passes but I believe my hardship was more do to altitude sickness than anything else (coming from zero elevation to North Lake TH and starting out.....within hours). This will make any pass difficult.

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Re: Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

Post by markskor » Tue Nov 02, 2010 12:34 pm

Best pass is the one just over...
worst is at the bottom of the next.

All just a state of mind - convinced that backpacking is mostly mental anyway.
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Re: Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

Post by rlown » Tue Nov 02, 2010 12:38 pm

Best pass is one you can drive over on your way to the worst pass: Monitor (best trans sierra route for me)..

Worst pass is any you are on and you're out of shape and coming from sea level after driving all night. Again, it doesn't really matter.. As Markskor said, it's all mental. pick a rock at 20 yds and get there.. pick the next rock...

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Re: Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

Post by BrianF » Tue Nov 02, 2010 1:16 pm

Best Pass is the first one on the way in and the worst is the last on the way out. For some it may be just the opposite.
I have to agree with Bishop and Piute being the easiest, but I do have a great fondness for Lamark Col, because I can get deep into great country the first day. Least favorite (so far) is Taboose -a long slog through uninteresting country
The direction you are moving in is what matters, not the place you happen to be -Colin Fletcher

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Re: Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

Post by maverick » Tue Nov 02, 2010 2:07 pm

You got it Markskor, a state of mind.
No macho stuff here, just hard training through out the year, which prepares
my body & mind for the rigors of what the Sierra brings my way.
I take passes as challenges, and a point to cross to enable me to continue on
with my journey, that's it.
I learned a long time ago if you are not physically & mentally prepared the mind
will start to make things tougher than they really are, it starts to wander, you
loose focus, and concentration on the task at hand, which is to cross that col or
pass, and on to your next location.
When you start saying to yourself, or out loud, "this is taking for ever", "my pack feels
like a ton", "I still can't see the top", you allow negative emotions to build up
which are self defeating, and makes that climb tougher than it really should be.
Same goes for dealing with skeetrz, some folks allow the experience to overwhelm
them instead of preparing to deal with them before you even leave for you trip.
So my answer to the OP's question is, they are all the same, no best or worst, just
a means to get from point A to point B more efficiently.

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Re: Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

Post by lostcoyote » Tue Nov 02, 2010 3:15 pm

3 cheers for harrison pass
3 boos for mono pass

3 cheers for mavericks post.

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Re: Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

Post by BSquared » Tue Nov 02, 2010 3:37 pm

Been there, done that: old thread on same topic.

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Re: Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

Post by oldranger » Tue Nov 02, 2010 4:41 pm


I disagree with you--the other thread is different. I could tell you what my favorite or least favorite passes are but best or worst? They are all good they get you where you want to go. In the 80s in june my favorite was the Sugarloaf entrance to the Sugarloaf-Roaring River Country because it got me to where I wanted to be. I hated it later in the year because dropping into or climbing out of Sugarloaf because it was little more than a dusty stock driveway in the lower 500 ft. Another favorite is Glen because my wife and I went over it on our first date--how about that for a first date--3 nights and part of 3 days doing the Rae Lakes Loop together. (the first day's hike we did separately because I couldn't start until after work and I didn't catch up until 10 PM at Junction Meadow)

I can't say that I enjoyed Pants pass but I have done it twice, once in each direction and two different versions (neither the recommended one). I also dislike Isberg Pass, not the pass itself but the approach as far as Sadler lake is kind of boring to me. On the other hand I like the area on the other side of the Pass best of all the Sierra. Great scenery and great fishing. Geez I could go on and on but best and worst labels kind of diminishes all the good stuff in the sierra. Mark has got it right it is all mental and the rest (as maverick says) is physical.


Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!

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