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Safer in winter: Telescope Peak or Charleston Peak?

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Safer in winter: Telescope Peak or Charleston Peak?

Postby deungsan » Sun Jan 10, 2010 8:29 pm

I know, I know, it depends on the conditions at the time of the climb...

But objectively speaking, which mountain is less dangerous when there is a decent amount of snow?

Thanks.
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Postby MoapaPk » Sun Jan 10, 2010 11:37 pm

Charleston:
We've discussed before the problems with the North Loop Trail when the snow is more than just a few inches deep, because of the cliffs S of Devil's Thumb.

The South Loop Trail is a very long slog in one day, when the snow is more than a foot deep, especially since 1st part of the trail is N -facing. However, this is a "popular" way to do Charleston as a winter backpack; people get up to the ridge at ~10600', than camp overnight. Then they start early for Chaz the next morn, just follow the ridgeline, and break camp and descend the same day.

For a day trip, that leaves approaches that start east of the peak and avoid the trails, following chutes (up to 45 degrees in places) to a point well south of Devil's Thumb. In "good snow" people have gone all the way up these chutes in Denali EVO Ascents. In worse snow, it's a crampon-and-ice axe trip. The vertical gain 4300' (a few losses along the way), which may be tough in the short days of true winter.

One of these winter routes goes left of Big Falls, which is class 3 in summer. With partial snow coverage, it can be very sketchy. We've lowered ourselves down this section with a handline looped around the small bristlecones.

Telescope:
I've been there in late hard-pack snow, but not in winter. It seems there are some places where the trail winds to the east side, above long slopes, and people have died after failure to self-arrest there.
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Postby florisvb » Mon Jan 11, 2010 1:10 am

I summited Telescope (camped at the top) last year in March. It was not too hard/dangerous at the time (hard packed snow, no wind/storms), but there were some steep sections where you would want crampons and an ice axe for self arrest... otherwise you have to find the long way around like me and my friend did since we were just on snow shoes. Have fun, the view from up there is amazing in the winter!
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Postby asmrz » Mon Jan 11, 2010 10:57 am

Re. your original question, ie objective dangers, that is no contest. In deep snow, Telescope Peak has virtually no objective dangers, where Charleston can have significant avalanche conditions present. No snow-No problem, either peak.
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Postby lefty » Wed Jan 13, 2010 6:09 am

A group of nine friends and I climbed Charleston on Saturday via the Big Falls route from the Mary Jane trailhead. Currently, there is a lot of deep unconsolidated snow under a breakable crust. This made for a strenuous day of breaking trail and postholing. We definitely needed ice axe and crampons for the third class section by the falls and the last 1000 feet or so on the east face and below.
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Postby deungsan » Fri Jan 15, 2010 5:22 am

Thanks to everyone for all the great info.

Couple of follow-up questions:

If there's a lot of fresh snow next week, what's the approach to Telescope Peak going to be like afterward?

Is there a gate that might be closed (like on the road to Whitney), or is it a matter of driving as far as you can and parking there?

If it's the latter, how far can a 2WD car with chains typically go? To the Charcoal Kilns?

Thanks again.
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Postby Deb » Fri Jan 15, 2010 5:34 am

deungsan wrote:Thanks to everyone for all the great info.

Couple of follow-up questions:

If there's a lot of fresh snow next week, what's the approach to Telescope Peak going to be like afterward?

Is there a gate that might be closed (like on the road to Whitney), or is it a matter of driving as far as you can and parking there?

If it's the latter, how far can a 2WD car with chains typically go? To the Charcoal Kilns?

Thanks again.


Shorty's Well - walk from the desert. No chains required. :lol:
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Postby Day Hiker » Fri Jan 15, 2010 5:44 am

deungsan wrote:If there's a lot of fresh snow next week, what's the approach to Telescope Peak going to be like afterward?

Is there a gate that might be closed (like on the road to Whitney), or is it a matter of driving as far as you can and parking there?

If it's the latter, how far can a 2WD car with chains typically go? To the Charcoal Kilns


I think normally in winter you can get to Charcoal Kilns, which is at 6900 feet, or a bit further down, I think there is a gate, maybe at 6500 feet. (It will depend on snow and the Park Service.) I know I have driven to the Kilns in April. Above that, it was 4WD snow.

In winter, after a recent storm, I'm pretty sure the road is closed lower down, but I don't know where the gate is. It might be as low as Wildrose, 7 miles from the Kilns, around 4100 feet.
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