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Trip Report Kearsarge to Shepherd Pass

Discussion about winter adventure sports in the Sierra Nevada mountains including but not limited to; winter backpacking and camping, mountaineering, downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, etc.

Re: Trip Report Kearsarge to Shepherd Pass

Postby Harlen » Sat May 27, 2017 6:49 pm

Or is that Hobbes and Friends?

I saw "Wandering Daisy's" post, and associated it with the photo. Whomever you guys are, you certainly look more dignified than me!
And does that mean the lake is one of those great Wallace Lakes? We call that place "Beautiful Lakes Basin," in our family, and first saw it coming down off of Russell Col. Cheers, Harlen.
Last edited by Harlen on Sat May 27, 2017 8:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Re: Trip Report Kearsarge to Shepherd Pass

Postby rlown » Sat May 27, 2017 7:34 pm

I would like a picture of the "marauding beer" :) Wack it and drink it..

Lose the big knife.. I like the attire though.. Left out Pika attacks for dogs.. seen that. Not mine.. Larry with the 3 JRT's coming down Piute pass. There are a huge amount of locals who run that trail to the pass with their dog(s)..
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Re: Trip Report Kearsarge to Shepherd Pass

Postby Harlen » Sat May 27, 2017 7:55 pm

Hi Davela,

Re. the trail melting out, with the use by PCT and JMT'ers picking up steam, I reckon that south-facing little wedge of snow on the trail will be history in 10 days-2 weeks. And it will be getting easier to manage every day. As for skills that would make that safe, the main thing is to use crampons, and before setting out- if they are new to you- make sure that your pant legs are carefully tucked into your socks, or otherwise tight to your calves, because it is pretty common to catch the inside of one's pant-leg with a sharp point, and over you could go! You learn to make very precise steps, and that is part of the magic of it- I once knew a bold, free-climbing, back-country ranger, and she called such climbing "forced zen." Cramponing along the Forester Pass trail would be the same. I'm sure you'd do fine; cramponing is a lot like first using snow shoes- you realize quickly just how easy it is. Best, Harlen.
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Re: Trip Report Kearsarge to Shepherd Pass

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun May 28, 2017 1:22 pm

Thanks for the detailed explaination of dogs and their impact on wildlife. I did not think about the disease stuff. My dog has been trained not to chase any animals. In fact, I would love to have her chase our neighbors chickens out of our back yard, but she won't. But she does poop, and I cannot catch every one. Evidently there are some disease issues with pack goats too- they are not allowed in areas with mountain sheep in the Wind Rivers. I really do not know anything about pack goat regulations in the Sierra. Pack goats are very popular in Wyoming, as well as llamas.

No that was not me- that photo is Hobbes' group. The trip I cited (Thunder Mountain) was way back in 2005.

How did you know for sure that you could get down the headwall on Shepherd Pass? What would have been the alternative if you could not? Since everything was snow coverd, had you thought about taking the old abandoned Junction Pass trail/route? It does not look to be as steep.
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Re: Trip Report Kearsarge to Shepherd Pass

Postby Harlen » Sun May 28, 2017 2:20 pm

How did you know for sure that you could get down the headwall on Shepherd Pass? What would have been the alternative if you could not? "Daisy."

I am a bit old-school- think of the old Shipton and Tillman era, pre-crampon, when your ice axe had to be sufficient for everything. I reckon if you had to take one piece of equipment to make your way up and down safely, you'd choose between a nice long rope, or an ice axe, and the long rope doesn't help you up when you're alone. Crampons would be the fastest, and provide the best grip, but if you slip they don't help save you like the olde axe.

This trip I brought only an axe and a short rope for climbing and safety. The rope wasn't long enough to double, and thus lower me down from a suitable rock horn, or snow bollard- it was just for Bear's safety. With an ice axe and enough time, I feel I can hack a safe trail into almost any degree slope, both up, or in this case, down that short steep slope of Shepherd. *I've been proven wrong in this theory- on one of North Peak's couloirs in the 20 Lakes Basin- where I encountered such hardened ice that my rudimentary axe was useless- even with crampons on my boots. In general though, where you have a hardened snow field- not ice, an axe will give you the means to get up or down the scary slopes. The corollary is that with the ice axe, you can arrest a fall, and start over.

So, having been on Shepherd 4 or 5 times before, I pretty much knew that I could manage the slope with just the axe.

Note "Daisy," that I was far less certain of accomplishing the descent of the south side of Forester Pass, with an axe alone. Without the short rope, I wouldn't have risked Bear's life crossing those barely melted out sections, with the near vertical drop-offs, and in that case, yes, I would have happily turned tail and scurried over to Junction Pass, though I've never been on that pass, and descended that way.
Last edited by Harlen on Sun Jul 30, 2017 12:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Trip Report Kearsarge to Shepherd Pass

Postby Hobbes » Sun May 28, 2017 4:06 pm

The photo above (taken at the 2014 meet-up), left to right, is Oleander, JIm & Hobbes. We are enjoying a nice sized GT cooked on the stove Jim hauled in complete with frying pan.

Interesting that Forester was more dangerous for Bear, whereas Shepherd is dangerous for all. I like your faith in an ice-axe; I don't have nearly as much climbing/winter experience as you, but quickly learned that an axe is more important than traction. Given the choice of taking only one, I'd pick the axe every time.
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Re: Trip Report Kearsarge to Shepherd Pass

Postby Harlen » Sun May 28, 2017 9:46 pm

Interesting that Forester was more dangerous for Bear, whereas Shepherd is dangerous for all. Hobbes

It's just that if "Bear," or any large mammal, slid down Shepherd, they would likely be miserable, but alive; whereas a slip off the cliffy bits on south side of Forester Pass could lead one into the next life (if anyone still believes in that sort of thing).
There's not much chance of a self arrest when one is bouncing down a rocky slope. Ghastly, eh?

*Say Hobbes, check the PM.
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Re: Trip Report Kearsarge to Shepherd Pass

Postby paul » Mon May 29, 2017 4:01 pm

Harlen - nice trip! As to the gear choice question, I am firmly convinced that skis are the way to go - but lighter skis. Mornings, though, I have often found that it is faster and easier to walk under some conditions than to ski. Planning your days so that it's uphill in the morning can help, so that by the time you want to go down hill, things have softened up nicely. And of course, since I am not such a good skier, I sometimes have to walk down - discretion being the better part of valor and all that.
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Re: Trip Report Kearsarge to Shepherd Pass

Postby DAVELA » Thu Jun 01, 2017 8:15 pm

Thanks Harlen.I bought new cramps and axe 6yrs ago.They have yet to be used.I think they may get used this season!I ll be using gaiters.
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Re: Trip Report Kearsarge to Shepherd Pass

Postby Harlen » Fri Jun 09, 2017 5:58 pm

I think this is the year to get them out there "Davela." The back side of My Baldy (San Antonio) was a fun romp up with crampons and ice axe, up from above the town of Wrightwood. There are a lot of bighorn sheep on that side too- more sign than I 've ever seen in the Sierra. We went up there once, and met a guy at the top- "Newcastle Bob," or some such name, who hikes a 12-pack up every other weekend or so. Maybe you'll meet him! Not a crank, but a local mountaineer who knew every peak and pass in sight. Here are a few photos from Mt Baldy:

DSC00670.JPG
DSC00609.JPG




If not there, you can't go wrong hiking up to Kearsarge in the early morning with the crampons- just look how beautiful the views are! All the best, Harlen.

carl book 009.JPG
carl book 001.JPG
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Last edited by Harlen on Sun Nov 26, 2017 2:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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