2017 Current snow conditions for E. Sierra

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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Jimr
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Re: 2017 Current snow conditions for E. Sierra

Post by Jimr » Wed Jul 05, 2017 4:27 pm

haven't done much snow hiking. I'm hoping that it will be manageable since the terrain above Dingleberry looks gradually inclined on the topo map, but I'm not familiar with that area...
Serious doubts. I'll try to post up a couple of shots this evening. We saw very few footprints in the snow passing around Dingleberry. We saw only one person who crossed the inlet as we were crossing back. He was going to attempt Topsy Turvey, but no clue if he made it.

If you have little snow experience and are unfamiliar with the area, this is not the time to learn IMHO. In addition to Maveric's weather info, you have to be aware that the creeks that drain the upper basin are running high below the rotting snow cover. What this means is even if you could get up there and XC, you run a big risk with snow bridges failing when you had no idea you were even walking over a creek. If something like this occurs, chances of survival, I believe, approach zero.


“Posterity! You will never know, how much it cost the present generation, to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the pains to preserve it.”

-John Adams






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Sabrina Basin 6/31-7/4

Post by Jimr » Wed Jul 05, 2017 6:40 pm

_MG_1416.jpg
_MG_1417.jpg
I guess I didn't take any shots above Dingleberry, but the area looks the same.
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Last edited by maverick on Thu Jul 06, 2017 5:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: subject matter
“Posterity! You will never know, how much it cost the present generation, to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the pains to preserve it.”

-John Adams

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Re: 2017 Current snow conditions for E. Sierra

Post by gbrown09 » Wed Jul 05, 2017 9:21 pm

Right on, thanks for the info Jimr! Looks like we'll be looking for an alternate option...

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Horseshoe Meadow - Cottonwood Pass 6/30

Post by jfr » Thu Jul 06, 2017 4:04 pm

6/30/2017 Hiked the 11-mile loop from Horseshoe Meadows: Trail Pass to Cottonwood Pass via the PCT

No snow on the PCT even though it's up at 11k feet, except for one tiny avoidable patch near Cottonwood Pass

Cottonwood Pass still had a large melting berm of snow on the east side (the residue of a cornice) and the trail climbs over the snow for about 30 feet. Easy.

Didn't see a single through-hiker on the PCT - maybe they all gave up on the Sierra section by now...
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North Lake-Piute Pass-Humphreys Lakes 7/1-7/3

Post by jfr » Thu Jul 06, 2017 4:54 pm

7/1-7/3 Backpacked from North Lake to Paiute Pass and beyond to a 12k ridge between Desolation Lake, Forsaken Lake, and the Humphreys Lakes

There was significant snow at the headwall below Loch Leven which made for some trail-finding fun, then 25% coverage from there to Paiute Lake. Loch Leven and Paiute Lake were both non-frozen.

After Paiute Lake the snow coverage increased significantly beyond 75%, with plenty of sun cups.

Paiute Pass itself was bare on top, but there was a solid snowfield to the east that the trail traversed. It was an enjoyable climb.

There was snow everywhere west of the pass in the Humphreys Basin area, except that the protruding granite ridgetops were bare, like islands in a sea of snow. We tried our best to hike on the granite as much as possible, as the suncupping was significant, with the cups turning pink and regularly having a depth of three feet. This made walking on the high points a chore, and high-stepping from the bottom of one cup to another extremely tiring. The snow remained crunchy in the early morning hours so microspikes worked well, but by noon the suncup-ridges were getting softer and slushier and would occasionally break down, causing you to plunge into the depths of the cup. The spikes were only marginally useful by that time, but we wore them anyway. I used a hiking pole for balance, and my ice ax remained attached to my backpack. We never hiked on anything steep enough in the basin for an ax, and the suncups were enough to slow anyone down.

Every lake in Humphreys Basin was still frozen. Summit Lake was thawing near the edges. Desolation Lake's output stream was flowing fine per another hiker we met. The Humphreys Lakes were showing signs of blue ice and thawing a bit, but the snow was deep enough that they seemed dangerous to approach. In the outflow valleys from the Humphreys Lakes there was at least three to four feet of suncupped snow with obvious signs of a creek flowing underneath, including caved-in chunks of snow around the edges of open water. The snow bridges held us as we crossed but we were still nervous and found the flattest, shallowest spots to make our crossings.

All of the lower chutes on the southeast face of Mount Humphreys had snow in them, as did the scree-skirts below.

There were plenty of places to find liquid water near our camping spot and we didn't have to melt any snow. The temperature was warm during the day, up in the 60's, and dropped into the 30's at night, so that small open water puddles formed a skin of ice by morning.
Last edited by maverick on Thu Jul 06, 2017 5:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2017 Current snow conditions for E. Sierra

Post by rlown » Thu Jul 06, 2017 5:33 pm

Nice report, jfr. Thanks for sharing.

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Re: 2017 Current snow conditions for E. Sierra

Post by boredsleepwalker » Fri Jul 07, 2017 8:30 am

Hi, I'm looking for any conditions near Mono Pass / Pioneer Basin. Heading there for backpacking the july 14th weekend. I'm curious about how much snow is up there and the creek crossing of Golden Lake. Thanks for any information!

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Re: 2017 Current snow conditions for E. Sierra

Post by cgundersen » Fri Jul 07, 2017 8:52 am

Hi boredsleepwalker,
Maverick & I had responded to a similar query from wanderingdaisy and if you want to be sure to get to Pioneer Basin, the best bet would be to follow the creek down from Summit Lake to Golden Lake and then loop to the north side of Golden from which a use trail will take you down to the spot where the main trail crosses Mono creek to get to your side of the creek. Since you'll already be on the Pioneer side of the creek, you'll be in good shape for finishing the trek up to Pioneer. You'll want plenty of mosquito protection.
cameron

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Re: 2017 Current snow conditions for E. Sierra

Post by boredsleepwalker » Fri Jul 07, 2017 5:51 pm

hi cgundersen,

Thanks for the info! Would love to know if we need crampons or microspikes for this trek? Want to be as prepared as possible. Thanks!

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Re: 2017 Current snow conditions for E. Sierra

Post by cgundersen » Sat Jul 08, 2017 1:03 pm

Hi BSW,
Your gear choices depend on your comfort zone. We had boots alone (no crampons, microspikes, axes) on the 4 off-trail passes we confronted on our trip (June20-30), but we use high end (and heavy) La Sportivas that do a good job of sticking to and/or crushing anything they encounter. We do not move fast, but we get to where we want to go, and in the end, that's what counts, no? Anyway, you should have little problem getting up to the ridge of Mono Pass, and the off-trail route down to Golden Lake is a great starter route if you are not terribly familiar with off-trail trekking. You cannot possibly get lost going down that hillside, because every vector points to the lake. and, if you've run out of gas there (or, even at Summit Lake) there are excellent places to camp, and plan for the jaunt along the creek the next day. Pioneer Basin is superb and will be worth the effort of getting there!
Cameron

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