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Black Kaweah Christmas

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Black Kaweah Christmas

Postby Daria » Thu Dec 30, 2010 2:25 am

Fellow SPer Hamik and I attempted Black Kaweah from Dec. 24-28, for a 5 day trek in the middle of deep Sierra winter. I have done Black Kaweah and Red Kaweah together just this past summer as one continuous link up that took 27 nonstop hours (just a more impressive version of the standard 24 hour or less dayhike hehe) and had committed myself to the undertaking of dayhiking some of the most remote Sierra peaks this past summer. (having no love life or anything else worthwhile leads to these sorts of activities) :) These remote peaks had the most appeal to me, with very few yearly summit entries-some of them carrying near mystical status like Black Kaweah.


So off we went on a 5 day winter Black Kaweah trek from Hospital Rock (Buckeye Flat). Unfortunately, we didn't summit and I wasn't expecting to, based on our short time frame, short daylight hours, and exceedingly deep unconsolidated snow. However, our timing managed to capture a window of rather pleasant weather and the opportunity for a rare experience of the Sierra fresh from a major storm. We reached somewhere near the 10,000 ft. level just short of the pass we intended to utilize and turned back due to high avalanche risks. One of my friends Vitaliy stated "5 days down the drain". Quite the contrary, it was a great training opportunity and we witnessed some beautiful sights.

Does anyone have any concrete verified information about previous Black Kaweah winter ascents? Has there only been one or two and who are they? My main concern was BK winter route conditions, as this can be quite hazardous and all routes on the peak are not the most trivial.

I don't feel worthy writing up a trip report, since we didn't summit, but I'd like to share the experience and thoughts with fellow SPers as well as a few gems of pics captured.

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One of my futile efforts at breaking trail. My partner had better luck with his skis.
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Rare backcountry Sierra ice:
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Saturday night storm brewing, we got 4-5 inches of fresh snow that night. It was the only snowfall of the 5 days, though
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High camp:
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And finally, my partner in crime braving the cold waters!!
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Many thanks to Hamik for being such a capable and STRONG partner! He gave me revived hope and pride in what us young mountaineers can accomplish.
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The following user would like to thank Daria for this post
goldenhopper, JasonH, MoapaPk, rhyang, RickF, Tom Kenney

Re: Black Kaweah Christmas

Postby Greg Enright » Thu Dec 30, 2010 3:03 am

Great that you gave it a try. I think it's awesome that you are going big. Keep it up and keep it safe. No shame in turning around due to avy conditions. I bet you could get there a lot faster in spring, but being out in the middle of winter is quite an experience.

The thread didn't load well for me, the pictures covered the text.
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Re: Black Kaweah Christmas

Postby Blair » Thu Dec 30, 2010 3:16 am

Crazy! Nice try, now maybe you will take interest in skiing?

Beautiful pictures...Hey Hamik, nice 'fro
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Re: Black Kaweah Christmas

Postby rlshattuck » Thu Dec 30, 2010 4:16 am

excellent adventure . . . you were lucky enough just to be out there . . . I wouldn't bum on not bagging the black kaweah!
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Re: Black Kaweah Christmas

Postby Daria » Thu Dec 30, 2010 4:21 am

Summiting Black Kaweah in the winter would be better than a lifetime supply of orgasms.
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Re: Black Kaweah Christmas

Postby goldenhopper » Thu Dec 30, 2010 5:09 am

Would be epic to have made it Daria. I have friends headed that way right now though they are not going to attempt any major summits. They are likely at Bearpaw Meadow right now.
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Re: Black Kaweah Christmas

Postby Daria » Thu Dec 30, 2010 5:15 am

We encountered a group of 3 guys camping at Redwood Meadow area and they all gave me funny looks like I was an alien and what the hell was I doing out here, being a female and all...and they probably thought they were the shit heading to Bearpaw....And then on our way out we came across two dudes backpacking in...not sure where and why cus theres some major cooling happening right about now out there and serious new snowfall.
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Re: Black Kaweah Christmas

Postby goldenhopper » Thu Dec 30, 2010 5:26 am

Daria wrote:We encountered a group of 3 guys camping at Redwood Meadow area and they all gave me funny looks like I was an alien and what the hell was I doing out here, being a female and all...and they probably thought they were the shit heading to Bearpaw....And then on our way out we came across two dudes backpacking in...not sure where and why cus theres some major cooling happening right about now out there and serious new snowfall.


That must have been them heading in. They're getting slammed I know, but they know that area well and go there every winter. When did you see them, Monday or Tuesday? I actually think they started on Tuesday...
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Re: Black Kaweah Christmas

Postby MoapaPk » Thu Dec 30, 2010 3:36 pm

Daria wrote:We encountered a group of 3 guys camping at Redwood Meadow area and they all gave me funny looks like I was an alien and what the hell was I doing out here, being a female and all...


This may be a shock, but men tend to check out all younger women in the outdoors, especially when there are few women around. Women also tend to check out bare-chested, fit younger men heading up the trail. I don't think these behaviors are unusual.
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Re: Black Kaweah Christmas

Postby A-Lex » Thu Dec 30, 2010 5:33 pm

Daria wrote:Summiting Black Kaweah in the winter would be better than a lifetime supply of orgasms.


I completely disagree.

Awesome work though! Way to get out there!
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Re: Black Kaweah Christmas

Postby hamik » Thu Dec 30, 2010 7:14 pm

Yeah, that naked dude was hella creepy--ew!

I'm totally paying for 5 days away from work right now, but it's OK--the Sierra is a special place right now with epic deep snow, short days, and beautiful, golden winter light. I will post to the Sierra mixed and ice thread at some point, but I'll note here that we saw some interesting, 3-5 pitch WI lines on the domes in the valley. The S-facing stuff was in and relatively FAT when we arrived, but it collapsed during the second day of sunshine. The N facing stuff was thinner but in and looked interesting. It's a hell of an approach, but there's a dent in the myth of steep Sierra ice for ya. Will write a bit about what I've found out about Black Kaweah approaches and post here when I get a chance -- Hamik
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Re: Black Kaweah Christmas

Postby A-Lex » Thu Dec 30, 2010 7:29 pm

I hope you guys used video chat before you headed out!
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Re: Black Kaweah Christmas

Postby hamik » Thu Dec 30, 2010 7:47 pm

Kevin was interested in the approach, and I figure some of you might be as well.

http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=4208987

For snowshoers this is the most sensible route because it gets very close to BK but at low altitude (so there is minimal postholing). The road to the TH is closed in winter, so you walk 2 mi on the road and ~15 mi on trails until you leave the trail system toward the pass just above Lippincott. The Manzanita battle is only for ~250 vertical feet.

The other approaches are Wolverton and Mineral King. The Wolverton approach is actually shorter than the MK one because the road to MK is closed all winter over 10 mi from the TH. Both are skiers' routes in that the entire approaches will have impossible snow conditions for snowshoes in early season, unconsolidated conditions. The Wolverton one is:

http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=4209005

The route over the hump to Pear Lake probably isn't right and the rest is just an approximation, but the passes are the important things and they're correct. This is the western half of the High Sierra ski traverse which traditionally starts out of the Shepherd Pass TH.

You all know the MK approach :-)
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Re: Black Kaweah Christmas

Postby Daria » Thu Dec 30, 2010 8:21 pm

It was my idea to take the route from Hospital Rock, since I saw that it parallels HST, but at lower elevation. Unfortunately, because of the last minute modification in route plan (we had originally intended to utilize wolverton approach), it meant that Hamik had to hike for 16 miles in dress shoes!

I think Kevin should try to be a little less sexist and be more accepting of young mountaineers. (ex. contacting the male rather than the female regarding route selection, because females don't know how to navigate or do technical shit, right?)

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Re: Black Kaweah Christmas

Postby MoapaPk » Thu Dec 30, 2010 8:55 pm

Both females and males have told me where to go (emphatically), so I guess I don't have any bias.
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