Frozen Lake Pass - 2019

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BobWF
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Frozen Lake Pass - 2019

Post by BobWF » Sun Mar 08, 2020 6:50 pm

One the things I like about HST is getting some route beta. So I thought I would attempt to post some route beta and pictures of my climb over Frozen Lake Pass the 1st week of August, 2019. I started at Cedar Grove and went the traditional SHR to the lake on west side of FLP. Camped there. Wandering Daisy's description is very good, but the pictures are blurred out. Went over Frozen Lake Pass the next morning and down the east side to Upper Basin. Hiked the JMT SuperHighway to Bench Lake, Arrow Pass, Arrow Basin, Window Creek Col, Window Creek to Woods Creek Trail and then to Upper Paradise and back to Cedar Grove. Eight fabulous days with moderate skeeters. Met a nice couple from Chicago on the JMT who assured me I would be able to wade across the South Fork of the Kings at Upper Paradise. Whew!

From my camp at the lake, it took me roughly an hour to get to the top of pass. Mostly stable talus blocks. Angled left toward the notch and ramp. I was huffing and puffing carrying my 45+ lbs at 12,000 ft.

At the top of the pass, I hunted around for the register but didn't find it. The drop down the rocks and dirt on the east side is as described by Wandering Daisy. A slight use trail down to the start of the snowfield. With two trekking poles, I found the descent to be not bad at all. When I hit the snow, I took out my ice axe as the snow was still somewhat steep and frozen. It softened up as I got lower.

The worst part for me is as Roper describes .... "Shortly after passing the frozen tarn, the hiker arrives at yet another disheartening drop off." This was steep, loose, post holing snow and very annoying. Think compound fracture. After reaching the bottom, take a break at the lake and congratulate yourself for reaching Upper Basin .... it's a wonderful walk east to the JMT.

So here goes with the pictures ......
Frozen Lake Pass.jpg
Climb up FLP.jpg
Frozen lake Pass west side II.jpg
West side FLP.jpg
East side FLP.jpg
Frozen lake Pass East side.jpg
Upper Basin.jpg
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Wandering Daisy
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Re: Frozen Lake Pass - 2019

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sun Mar 08, 2020 7:27 pm

You had a lot more snow than when I did it in 2010! I have actually done it twice. First time I descended left from Frozen lake and ran into incredibly loose dangerous talus. Next time I went straight down the nose and it was much more stable.
IMG_5395_Small.jpg
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BobWF
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Re: Frozen Lake Pass - 2019

Post by BobWF » Sun Mar 08, 2020 8:23 pm

Nancy, I think Roper recommends angling left at the drop off which I did. I think your suggestion at the "nose" is better. I should have put my crampons on and just went straight down, but I was lazy. Angling left got me into snow patches and big loose rocks.

I noted on another post that Helen's plaque at Marion Lake is still there. I have seen at other places people pry off the plaques. Helen's is really a historical artifact now. It must be approaching 100 years old.

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Re: Frozen Lake Pass - 2019

Post by thegib » Sun Mar 08, 2020 9:01 pm

Nice route BobWF. Thanks for the beta.

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Harlen
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Re: Frozen Lake Pass - 2019

Post by Harlen » Sun Mar 08, 2020 10:26 pm

Nice trip, with a few really fine photos, but for some reason, they would not expand when clicked on. They really deserve a closer look-- love your first, and fourth photos! Thanks for the nice write-up, Ian

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Re: Frozen Lake Pass - 2019

Post by larry553x » Mon Mar 09, 2020 9:24 am

Joe and Helen LeConte first visited Marion Lake and Lake Basin in 1902. Joe LeConte installed the plaque memorializing his late wife Helen in 1925, and his daughter, son, and Ansel Adams accompanied him. The young Adams made several of his most iconic High Sierra photographs on that trip, which took him for the first time to the Sierra beyond Yosemite. I was at Marion Lake in September 2016 and the plaque was in fine shape. I shared my photos of the plaque with LeConte's grandson and he was quite pleased. With more people on the SHR these days, it's good to know all is well with the plaque.

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Re: Frozen Lake Pass - 2019

Post by commonloon » Mon Mar 09, 2020 9:35 am

Thanks for the photos and beta Bob. It is always good to share this sort of stuff to help others make good choices and be safer.

Given my SHR and off trail addiction ;-) I've done Frozen Lake 6+ times or so. I think the Lakes basin is one of the most beautiful areas of the Sierra! There are 3 or 4 passes on the SHR that make me nervous, and it is one of them.

Here are my own cliff notes/beta (this may change if there is some major rockfall): Traveling East to West.

Ascent: I prefer to use the South shore of the lake. I like to think about the ascent as 4 distinct sections: (1) lower low angle slopes near the lake "Inlet," nothing difficult here, just a good opportunity to watch for rockfall before committing to the upper parts of the pass. (2) A middle slightly less low angle (or steeper) section, this section has 2 huge rock islands cutting thru the center (think semi-truck trailer size). IMHO you either walk a line near these or traverse a bit above it. My goal ascending this pass is to minimize the time on loose/unsteady rock or rock with "Air" below it or downhill from it -- master of the obvious. (3) Just above this section the ascent steepens. Off to the right, early season, there are usually flowers in the little dirt bits. I veer right and up, going towards them. This transition is where I'm especially careful as there are some big boulders that don't seem 100% stable. (4) Nearing the top, I traverse close to the wall that forms the ridge. There are use trails up here.

Descent: You have 2 choices (1) There is a use trail most of the way down from the top. It looks bad at 1st but isn't that bad if you descent with care. Trekking poles are really helpful to maintain stability. (2) I've veered left onto the boulders instead and if careful you can find a fairly stable path, but it may be a wash risk management wise because there seem to be some bigger rocks that can move on you.

More snow = safer both sides in my opinion.

Oh, at the top try not to look at a HUGE part of the ridge that has a big crack running thru it.

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commonloon
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Re: Frozen Lake Pass - 2019

Post by commonloon » Mon Mar 09, 2020 9:44 am

From a 2016 trip:
13692965_10154316048689328_4795159823923121929_o.jpg
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BobWF
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Re: Frozen Lake Pass - 2019

Post by BobWF » Mon Mar 09, 2020 9:38 pm

Funny you mention the big crack. When I was up there I kept thinking this is not a good place to be if the Owens Valley Fault (M8) decides to rip.

A better picture of Upper Basin ( I hope) and one of Mather Pass. I need to learn how to insert good quality jpegs.
Mather Pass.jpg
Upper Basin.jpg
Upper Basin II.jpg
on to the JMT.jpg
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BobWF
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Re: Frozen Lake Pass - 2019

Post by BobWF » Mon Mar 09, 2020 9:45 pm

Better picture looking west from Frozen Lake Pass .........
Looking west from FLP.jpg
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