2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

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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Xosob
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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Post by Xosob » Wed Aug 24, 2011 4:32 pm

Route taken: Postpile to Minaret Lake via Minaret Trail, back to JMT N to Garnet Lake outlet then along N side of Garnet to Garnet Pass over to W side of Thousand Island, along N side of Thousand Island to JMT N over Donohue to Lyell Canyon, out to Toulumne

Difficult section encountered: Trivial snow patches at outlet of Minaret Creek, easily avoided snow at N side of Garent Pass, slushy snow near top of Donohue
Water crossing posed no problems by thinking first and then using rocks/logs/easy jumps (for someone w/ long legs), never got water in boots

Special equipment needed/used: Brought ice axe & microspikes, never used.

Possible alternative routes: Class 3 move at top of narrow slot leading from Minaret to Cecile was more than I was willing to tackle solo, so skipped Cecile to Iceberg to Nydiver to Whitebark Pass section originally planned. Glad to have avoided Whitebark -- quite a bit of snow on N side, unclear how easy it would have been to go to E of the snow fields. I have photos, but w/ my current internet connection the link died and I had to retype this msg.

Great weather, few bugs (using Deet, but otherwise in shorts and tee shirt almost entire time). Trip report to follow over Labor Day weekend.








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Harrison Pass

Post by quentinc » Wed Aug 24, 2011 9:30 pm

Route: Kearsarge Pass, Forester Pass, unnamed pass to Lake South America, Harrison Pass, East Lake trail to Junction/Vidette Meadow.

Forester had some snow but was easy. Harrison appeared to be suicidal at first glance (this is the view taken from the low point on the ridge; the actual pass is to the east and a bit higher):

Image

And near suicidal when viewed from the top:

Image

But there was a route down along the (left) side that avoided the nearly vertical snowfield:

Image

No other issues. A detour 100 feet south on crossing Bubbs Creek led to a spot that wasn't too swift and was mid-thigh deep.

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cgundersen
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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Post by cgundersen » Thu Aug 25, 2011 3:16 pm

quentin,
Did you by any chance try the ridge north of Caltech Peak as a short cut to Lake South America? Even though it would cut off lots of trucking, it's always looked a bit dicey. But maybe someone's tackled it with a pack (like, you)?
Also, last time in that area, I tried Ericsson col rather than Harrison Pass and it's maybe a tad easier. Worth a shot when H is looking as ugly as it looked there.
cg

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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Post by quentinc » Thu Aug 25, 2011 10:46 pm

CG -- do you mean the ridge south of Caltech? The ridge north looks pretty steep with a lot of elevation gain. Even with the ridge south, in retrospect it would have been better to have curled around a bit further to the south to avoid a lot of up and down (and some talus). But it's way better than taking the JMT down to that windy "cut-off" trail.

Is Ericson Col the chute just east of Mt. Ericson? I looked down the various gullies from the ridge between Gregory's Monument and Ericson, and none of them looked great. Also, I didn't realize there was another "recognized" route down from that ridge, and I've gotten myself into enough trouble in the past by freelancing. ;)

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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Post by cgundersen » Fri Aug 26, 2011 7:46 am

quentin,
OK, on the compilation by Martz (link below), it's referred to as Ericsson Pass (not, col). It's also rated 2-3, but my impression was that it was equal to or slightly easier than Harrison. And, I've only been over Harrison in late season when the snow (that I well understand can be scary) has been a non-issue. Ericsson is more exposed and probably does not hold snow as long. Anyway, just a thought.... The other question concerns that tight little lip due North of Caltech Peak (also visible in the map cutout in the link). As a conduit twixt Forester and Lake SA it would save tons of time, but I agree that it's looked very dicey (sans ropes) and I've never even tried day hiking it. Still, as you noted, such free-lancing can be a kick in the rump, but sometimes it can also pay off handsomely. That said, the broad loop around the southern flanks of Caltech Peak is so wide open and pretty in most places that the shortcut idea is partly just academic.
cg
http://sierrabackpacker.com/Ericsson.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

quentinc
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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Post by quentinc » Fri Aug 26, 2011 4:44 pm

CG, thanks. I see now that Ericson Pass is listed in Secor too, and he says it's not as steep as Harrison. I'm guessing it starts from where the small snow patch is in the middle of this picture (of the benign south side).

Image

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sparky
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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Post by sparky » Sun Aug 28, 2011 1:56 am

8/24-8/27 New Army pass, Crabtree Pass, Crabtree meadow, Rock Creek, Cottonwood Pass

Crabtree pass is clear, the uppermost lake in the crabtree creek drainage has a steep snowfield to cross on north side of lake, and few on the south side and that's it for snow. Never put on DEET or a headnet. Didn't cross anything more than knee deep. Smoke is gone.

The top of New Army Pass to Crabtree Meadow VIA crabtree pass was the most fun I have had in awhile. Not to mention the scenery. Pretty crowded in Miter Basin though....is that normal? I would like to go back and have it all to myself.

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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Post by quentinc » Sun Aug 28, 2011 4:13 pm

Sparky, any place as beautiful and relatively accessible as Miter Basin is bound to draw crowds. Try it either before the snow has melted or after Labor Day -- those are the only times I will go. I'm amazed you made it all the way along Rock Creek without needing DEET.

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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Post by Cross Country » Sun Aug 28, 2011 7:30 pm

"CG, thanks. I see now that Ericson Pass is listed in Secor too, and he says it's not as steep as Harrison. I'm guessing it starts from where the small snow patch is in the middle of this picture (of the benign south side)".

By no means do I intend to minimalism your pic. I LOVE pics of remote places. It's had much to do with why I went. I would however, like very much to see some pics from the North side. The times I was around and over these passes I didn't have a camera with me -- drats!. Could somebody show me some pics to refresh the memory of an OM. Please someone indulge me.

CC

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Re: 2011 BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS UPDATES

Post by quentinc » Sun Aug 28, 2011 8:23 pm

This is the only other one I have of the north side of Harrison. I do have, for the asking, the north side of Lucy's Foot (which looks shockingly benign in the photo, compared to what it actually looked like from where I took it) and the next stage down of the route on the north side of Harrison.

Image

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