Longley Pass and Cunningham Creek Route

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!
User avatar
kursavwilage
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 42
Joined: Thu May 08, 2014 9:52 am
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: Atascadero, Ca

Re: Longley Pass and Cunningham Creek Route

Post by kursavwilage » Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:20 pm

Back in early July of 2009 we went up Cunningham Creek over Lonlgley Pass and then down through Lake Reflection to East Lake.....
We stayed on the north side of Cunningham and never found anything that looked like a trail. The lower part coming out of Cloud Canyon was the steepest and the worst because it was a bush whack through some pretty thick manzanita, once we got through this section the angle lessened and so did all the manzanita. After that the hiking was fairly pleasant all the way and relatively easy on the upper part leading to Longley Pass. We were shocked by the Size of the cornice that covered pretty much the whole pass and were almost thinking of turning back until I discovered the relatively easy class 2-3 way down among the rocks just north of the saddle. The reason why I looked to the north was because I remembered reading in Secor's The High Sierra about this way down if the cornice was present. So, I hiked over to the north and actually saw deer tracks leading the way down to what looked like a pretty easy chimney system down. I wouldn't really classify it as a chimney more like a series of small cracks and ledges pretty easy to follow with full packs. I would say that it was a lot more class 2 than 3 with no real exposure.
I would post my photos of the exact route but I can't seem to figure out how to decrease the size of my images in order to post them....








User avatar
kursavwilage
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 42
Joined: Thu May 08, 2014 9:52 am
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: Atascadero, Ca

Re: Longley Pass and Cunningham Creek Route

Post by kursavwilage » Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:56 pm

I figured it out...

P1000930a.png
P1000936.JPGa.png
You must be registered and logged in to view the files/photos attached to this post.

User avatar
levi
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 52
Joined: Mon Jun 04, 2018 12:45 pm
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker

Re: Longley Pass and Cunningham Creek Route

Post by levi » Wed Jul 18, 2018 12:30 pm

Here are some photos of Longley and Cunningham. It's taking me a while to cull photos from my long trip, and get my word count down, but I do intend to get my trip report together soon. It's all very doable, and the scenery/solitude is probably worth it, but Cunningham is a PITA with the bushwhacking, and I scared the hell out of my wife at one point by leading us down a class 3 chute that cliffed out (never felt truly in danger, just stuck, and we easily retreated back out, but it was a low point of the trip). We've done a decent amount of short xc segments on backpacking trips before, but this segment was far from obvious, unlike the approach to Longley, which took effort but was ultimately pretty easy.
longley1.jpg
The closer we got the better the traverse looked.
longley2.jpg
longley3.jpg
longley4.jpg
The traverse wasn't bad at all, and the excitement was worth it.
cunningham1.jpg
Cunningham Creek is easy-looking from afar, and is easy at first.
cunningham2.jpg
Then you hit the steeps. Apologies to the lady.
cunningham3.jpg
:(
cunningham4.jpg
Our solution: traverse further north until it becomes doable. We edged switchbacks in our trail runners with little issue once we were here.
cunningham5.jpg
The second steep section was all bushwhacking, and it was a tad claustrophobia inducing. Apologies to the plants.
cunningham6.jpg
Even when it flattened, more bushwhacking. Vague evidence that others had been here before, but hard to believe stock ever made it far up the canyon.
You must be registered and logged in to view the files/photos attached to this post.

User avatar
cgundersen
Topix Expert
Posts: 971
Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2006 1:07 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: Longley Pass and Cunningham Creek Route

Post by cgundersen » Wed Jul 18, 2018 12:53 pm

Hi Levi,
After that preview, I'm definitely looking forward to your TR. For how hot it was as we were hiking out in late June, I'm not surprised that the Longley cornice was less of an obstacle. Still, I love the catwalk photos you (and others) have posted of the long approach to the area where you can climb up on the snow bank. And, clearly the Cunningham descent was not a huge improvement over what we hit going down Sphinx creek. Still, if it's any consolation, the one time I climbed up the opposing face of Cloud Canyon (to Josephine) there were old, grass-laden droppings that sure looked like horse/mule (but, could have been bear), and we were pretty much crawling it was so steep. So, no telling what packers did back in the day! Cameron

User avatar
BigSea
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 25
Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2011 1:39 pm
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker
Location: Truckee, CA

Re: Longley Pass and Cunningham Creek Route

Post by BigSea » Fri Jul 20, 2018 10:34 am

Thanks for all of the additional information. That cornice doesn't seem like it'll be much of an issue, especially since we'll be there about 4 weeks after those photos were taken. The cunningham creek descent looks doable, but sure doesn't look pleasant. I had also considered the xc route to colby lake via talus lake, but would really like to hike through cloud canyon. From what I understand, it doesn't start getting really good until around cement table meadow, which is fortunately right where cunningham creek drops into cloud canyon.

Looking forward to your report, levi. Sounds like you and your wife planned pretty much the exact route that my wife and I have in mind.

User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
Posts: 10637
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Re: Longley Pass and Cunningham Creek Route

Post by maverick » Fri Jul 20, 2018 11:52 am

From what I understand, it doesn't start getting really good until around cement table meadow, which is fortunately right where cunningham creek drops into cloud canyon.
The views of the Whaleback are outstanding from Big Wet Meadow, but keep in mind, BWM can be one of the baddest mosquito factories in the Sierra!
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

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: christosks, Google [Bot], Google Adsense [Bot], rob1369 and 8 guests