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Winter hikes with easy approaches?

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Winter hikes with easy approaches?

Postby dshankar » Sat Feb 02, 2013 12:54 pm

Hey folks!

I'm hoping to get some winter hiking experience after getting hooked last summer when I attempted to summit Mt. Dana (made it up to 12k). I'm going with a few friends, but none of us have snow hiking experience, so this will be our first time with crampons, ice axes, helmets and such.

My idea is to do a practice run with no intention of summiting in mid-February, and then attempt to summit (perhaps Mt. Hood?) in early March.

What's a good place to start within 5-6 hours from SF to get some practice? A mountain with an easy, drivable approach would be ideal. I'm not aiming for the 14ers but I hear Mt. Whitney is a relatively easy one?

Thanks!
D
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Re: Winter hikes with easy approaches?

Postby RickF » Sat Feb 02, 2013 3:46 pm

dshankar,
I'm from southern California and not too familiar with the local mountains near you that get snow in winter. I'd guess the area around Truckee and Tahoe.
I reccomend doing some practice winter ascents on a smaller scale at your closest mountains before venturing to bigger challenges at more remote locations, i.e. Whitney, Hood, etc. Get used to traveling in cold conditions with ice-axe and crampons. Get lots of practice at self arrest. Know the weather forecast before every trip. Have a self-sufficient survival plan, not just a satellite beacon that calls Mr. Wizard. If you haven't already done so, read the chapters from Freedom of the Hills that apply to ice & snow travel and winter safety. As your experience and skill increases then you can take on gradually bigger challenges. First is basic travel on snow/ice at low angle ascents. Then you can take on higher mountains with steeper terrain. At that point you'll be dealing with increased exposure not only of falls but also avalanches and possibly crevasses depending on the mountain. Whitney and Hood are huge steps if you're just getting started. I applaud your saying that you're not intent on summiting. That's a good philosophy, getting back safely is a higher priority than reaching the summit.
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Re: Winter hikes with easy approaches?

Postby Jesus Malverde » Sat Feb 02, 2013 3:53 pm

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Re: Winter hikes with easy approaches?

Postby clmbr » Sat Feb 02, 2013 4:57 pm

dshankar wrote:. . .
What's a good place to start within 5-6 hours from SF to get some practice? A mountain with an easy, drivable approach would be ideal. I'm not aiming for the 14ers but I hear Mt. Whitney is a relatively easy one?
. . .

So is Mt Shasta. Just climb as much as you wish and get the feeling of a "bigger" mountain. Just watch for avalanches (if any) and avoid getting summit fever if not prepared properly.
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Re: Winter hikes with easy approaches?

Postby Bubba Suess » Sat Feb 02, 2013 5:38 pm

clmbr wrote:
dshankar wrote:. . .
What's a good place to start within 5-6 hours from SF to get some practice? A mountain with an easy, drivable approach would be ideal. I'm not aiming for the 14ers but I hear Mt. Whitney is a relatively easy one?
. . .

So is Mt Shasta. Just climb as much as you wish and get the feeling of a "bigger" mountain. Just watch for avalanches (if any) and avoid getting summit fever if not prepared properly.


If heading up to the Shasta area, then Castle Peak is also very, very doable. If you want to get more ambitious, you can also head over Castle Peak and head into the Casle Crags.
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Re: Winter hikes with easy approaches?

Postby mrchad9 » Sun Feb 03, 2013 9:54 pm

Overly edited thread by over ambitious forum mods. I'm done here.
Last edited by mrchad9 on Mon Feb 11, 2013 6:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Winter hikes with easy approaches?

Postby toxo » Mon Feb 04, 2013 12:36 am

mrchad9 wrote:Look at Round Top, Castle Peak, and Mount Rose near Tahoe. Also Brokeoff Mountain in Lassen National Park.


This^. Brokeoff is SUPER short on snowshoes and has great views.

Guise, I am having sulfur withdrawals already. Need MOAR sulfurous springs.

Image
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Re: Winter hikes with easy approaches?

Postby SeanReedy » Mon Feb 04, 2013 8:58 am

Post deleted (makes no sense out of context of other deleted posts))
Last edited by SeanReedy on Sat Feb 09, 2013 2:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Winter hikes with easy approaches?

Postby toxo » Mon Feb 04, 2013 6:09 pm

Here is some serious Dana advice though: DO NOT neglect putting on sunscreen. Pic very related.

Image

And of course they were out of pure aloe at Woah Nellie Deli that day.
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Re: Winter hikes with easy approaches?

Postby SeanReedy » Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:35 am

Yeah, Rhino's for great grub in Bridgeport, especially for those who like PBR. We won parents of the year for letting reflected sun toast our kids' faces snowshoeing at Sonora Pass (mud kept me safe).
.
.
The original old Dana thread did start with well intentioned cautions about altitude and suggested alternatives to summitting Dana (including going part way up), before posts continued in the off-route thread. There's nothing wrong with not summiting. Before trying Castle Peak/Castle Lake by Shasta, or Brokeoff, the OP could just go back to Tioga Pass/Yosemite (carrying tire chains :wink: ). Badger Pass has groomed and ungroomed opportunities that become particularly scenic when heading over to somewhere along the valley rim (Dewey Point). http://www.sfgate.com/outdoors/article/Yosemite-s-Dewey-Point-well-worth-the-walk-3250541.php
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If that seems too easy, I suggest this before taking on Dana (or Hood):


:wink:

BTW, Pete's 1000 peaks site linked earlier for Tahoe area was a blast from the past. He still ends his trip reports going on and on about not having any partners. Dshankar should avoid him, but maybe Mattski should ask to travel with Pete.
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Re: Winter hikes with easy approaches?

Postby Vitaliy M. » Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:39 pm

You might want to consider Pyramid peak from hwy 50

Tallac

Castle peak (summit block is class 3-4)

Phipps peak maybe.

Mt. Shasta is a good one, but is much harder than Hood. Hood is VERY easy. Easier than Dana probably (when I did mt. dana I did it before the pass was open, so went from Power Plant parking lot, which was a long slog. but still in as a dayhike without walking in the darkness one minute)
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Re: Winter hikes with easy approaches?

Postby dshankar » Fri Feb 08, 2013 8:51 pm

Oh my. I've been called a troll, an idiot, an SF fag (not all people from SF are gay, FYI!), and I think even a suggestion to climb Brokeback Mountain?! :shock: Y'all are a fun bunch :-)

To answer your questions:
I attempted Mt. Dana last summer. I left the Bay Area around 10-11pm, arriving at Dana around 3-4am. Did some astrophotography and took a short nap at Tioga Lake. I started hiking too late (9 or 10am). I had no problem with the altitude – though sleeping in my car at 10k ft. at Tioga Lake was quite uncomfortable. I should've slept at Lee Vining instead.

I had to get back to the Bay Area to return my rental by the evening. If I remember correctly, I made it up to ~11.5-12k ft. I did have some difficulty climbing the scree. I was concerned about hurting myself climbing down the scree in a rush so I decided to play it safe and head back down slowly & safely. This was even more important considering I was hiking solo and didn't see anyone else on Dana.

I'll definitely head back to Dana again when the snow melts. I started this thread with some specific questions, which are still unanswered. I don't want to wait until the summer to start hiking again, and I love the snow, having lived in a snowy area for a decade.

So let's reiterate what I'm actually looking for:
- easy approach in the snow (rules out Yosemite, snow tires &/or snowshoeing are not practical options)
- an actual mountain with some snow and altitude (stop suggesting tiny hills like Mt. Diablo! Are you joking?!)
- not looking to climb the tallest 14er (but I hear some of them doable with little experience)
- not planning on summiting, unless it's easy like Dana or Hood.

My goals are to get experience with tools, basic skills, and more altitude experience. Only after this would I feel safe attempting to summit something like Hood or Whitney.

So, any real suggestions? Location-wise:
- 4 hour drive from Bay Area or 1-2 hour drive from Fresno

A friend of mine suggested REI's Shasta guided climb (http://www.rei.com/adventures/trips/wee ... _wend.html this one I think) –– thoughts?
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Re: Winter hikes with easy approaches?

Postby Carbo » Fri Feb 08, 2013 10:07 pm

Vitaly gave you a list.

How will you do a snow hike and not use snow shoes if conditions are soft?
Shasta is easy approach and a good place to experience snow travel into summer.

Round top? Seems to be the yearly SP gathering spot
http://www.summitpost.org/round-top/15050
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Re: Winter hikes with easy approaches?

Postby SeanReedy » Fri Feb 08, 2013 11:42 pm

Most of what remains in the thread after the cleansing makes sense.

Dshankar,

Did you thoroughly read the SP pages for Hood, Whitney, and Shasta, especially the sections on when to climb? There are links to message boards and/or current conditions as well. Are you familiar with typical, stormy Sierra and Cascade February and March weather patterns? It seems like you could do more research on your own.

Regarding Mount Diablo, and regarding TinOmen and I reminiscing (some deleted), that stuff was off-topic/not directed at you.

Mattski (deleted from thread) mostly trolls/makes comments that are not generally helpful to inexperienced members.

For Yosemite, having to use tire chains is unlikely (but you are supposed to carry them and could need them at all places mentioned in this thread during winter/spring if you time your trip poorly). You are correct that finding a peak hike there that is short, easy, high-altitude, and lacking a possible need for snowshoes is not likely in February, but you could have lots of fun near Badger Pass winter sports area (not far from Fresno) and could probably find places to use crampons near there or from longish hikes starting in Yosemite Valley. Snowshoes likely can be rented at Badger Pass. YNP and Lassen NP probably offer free/cheap snowshoe ranger guided hikes.

From Fresno, look up Huntington Lake/HWY 168 and then look up Kaiser Peak and Chinese Peak (ski resort on part of it) on SP. Also look up Lodgepole Logistical Center (Sequoia NP), Alta Peak, and Jennie Lakes Wilderness http://www.summitpost.org/jennie-lakes-wilderness/441944. Snowshoes will likely be helpful.

As far as CA14ers in winter/spring, you need much more experience, but might progress quickly by paying for classes and guides if highly motivated and equipped. Seriously, I wouldn't even suggest trying in summer/fall without doing shorter hikes first and practicing more between 8,000-13,000 feet. White Mountain Peak and Mt. Langley would be 14ers to try in summer without the Whitney permit hassles and crowds. Whitney would be next easiest, but is overused due to being the highpoint of the lower 48. Mt. Shasta may work well in May/June (check webpage for conditions).

Also, I pointed out (as did others) in your Dana thread that higher does not equate to better in many cases. Keep in mind that you can't view the famous peaks very well while on them. As you gain experience and research more on SP, you will find great places that most people have never heard of aside from avid hikers and mountaineers. You will likely have more fun and enjoy better scenery on peaks that are not famous highpoints your friends suggest or have heard of.

Mt. Hood: see how your practice goes, consider guides, and be wary of likely poor weather/conditions. Your March goal would not likely happen safely and why go all the way there with so much in Tahoe area and Mt. Shasta closer. If you go, May/June would likely be would be wiser and simpler.

Tahoe area Peaks and Brokeoff (Lasssen NP): I'm not sure if you looked up the good suggestions listed by mrchad9 and others, but see why you would be confused/frustrated by the off-topic posts (much deleted).

Castle Peak/Lake by Mt. Shasta: lower than you are looking for, but be cautious taking on more than this in winter without more experience. Great views of Shasta can be had, and a range of hikes exist in the area.

Mt. Shasta would be a good place to practice skills in spring or sooner if you check conditions pages and don't expect to summit. Consider guides & classes.

Mt. Dana would be a longer drive and hike than you are looking for in winter. I think I recall Clouds Rest from Tenaya Lake area/Sunrise TH in summer sounding like a long hike to you, which would be easier than most ideas discussed in this thread. I will echo comments from others that you sound like you need more experience doing long hikes in snow and long hikes above 9,000 feet in summer before trying more challenging winter/spring hikes without guides. What is the rush to try state highpoints?

I am considering all of these areas (excepting Whitney, Dana, and Hood) in the near future if I don't go to Death Valley instead. I may be able to provide conditions updates or see you out there.

This was good advice, although all previously suggested and an important point made:
Carbo wrote:Vitaly gave you a list.

How will you do a snow hike and not use snow shoes if conditions are soft?
Shasta is easy approach and a good place to experience snow travel into summer.

Round top? Seems to be the yearly SP gathering spot
http://www.summitpost.org/round-top/15050


For summer, or other winter ideas, look up mrchad9's California's Fifty Finest list, or pick another interesting peak. After picking a peak, click on Interactive Map to see other peaks in the given area.
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Re: Winter hikes with easy approaches?

Postby SeanReedy » Sun Feb 10, 2013 8:46 am

Dshankar, just so ya know, I still haven't bothered to use my snowshoes. However, I have experienced this:

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