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(Relatively) Snow Free Peaks in March

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(Relatively) Snow Free Peaks in March

Postby Castlereagh » Wed Nov 04, 2009 5:30 am

I might be heading down to Vegas in March for a buddy's bachelor party, and I figure I might as well try to knock out some peaks along the way in the area. I assume most of the Great Basin peaks in NV and CA are still snowed over, but how are conditions usually that time of year in Southern AZ and NM (ie Graham, Wrightson, Chiricahua, Miller, Lemmon, Big Hatchet, Organ, etc)?

Thanks
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Postby Day Hiker » Wed Nov 04, 2009 6:25 am

I haven't done Chiricahua in March, but I have on 27 October, 03 December, and 02 January. That date in October had no snow, but December and January did. The time I went up in January, I didn't bring snowshoes, and I wished I had.
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Postby Day Hiker » Wed Nov 04, 2009 4:13 pm

1000Pks wrote:There can be snow in Vegas in winter and spring. It all depends on the weather.


Image

Henderson, NV, the day after the snow on 17 December 2008. I'm standing at elevation 2200 feet.

Check out the gas prices too.

Oh, and check out the out-toeing in those footprints on the sidewalk. WTF?
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Postby MoapaPk » Wed Nov 04, 2009 4:40 pm

There are a lot of peaks in Southern NV and the eastern tip of the Mojave.

Look at Spirit Mountain (you can get there in a normal 2wd sedan), Moapa (HC suggested), Muddy (a rugged vehicle), lots of drive-up-to-TH peaks in Lake Mead (Sentinel), and many peaks in Red Rock (Bridge Mountain, White Rock Hills) or Calico, depending on weather.
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Postby lcarreau » Wed Nov 04, 2009 10:20 pm

Forget Arizona, it's a cesspool of heat that time of year.

Always head for southern Nevada and California, and you can't go wrong!

8)
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Postby Castlereagh » Wed Nov 04, 2009 10:46 pm

Thanks. Some of those peaks look pretty cool, especially Moapa and Muddy Pk.

Day Hiker wrote:I haven't done Chiricahua in March, but I have on 27 October, 03 December, and 02 January. That date in October had no snow, but December and January did. The time I went up in January, I didn't bring snowshoes, and I wished I had.


Could you follow the trail still, with the snow, or was it blanket snow coverage everywhere?
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Re: (Relatively) Snow Free Peaks in March

Postby surgent » Wed Nov 04, 2009 10:47 pm

patssox09 wrote:I might be heading down to Vegas in March for a buddy's bachelor party, and I figure I might as well try to knock out some peaks along the way in the area. I assume most of the Great Basin peaks in NV and CA are still snowed over, but how are conditions usually that time of year in Southern AZ and NM (ie Graham, Wrightson, Chiricahua, Miller, Lemmon, Big Hatchet, Organ, etc)?

Thanks


Which way are you coming from? You got some NM peaks there on the list! I did Organ on 3.31.01. It was dry, but it could easily be snowed up at that time of year.

Big Hatchet will probably be snow-free. But it is 8,500 feet, so if a big storm moves through, then it could get some. My profile photo is of me on nearby Cookes Peak in April 2004 - a snowstorm plowed through. A few days later, it was hot again!

If it's been mostly dry, then these southern NM peaks will likely be snow-free. Chiricahua can be done even if there is a little snow (I had to turn back once (Jan) in waist-deep snow, but did it a month later with just some patchy ice on the route). Same for Lemmon.

Big Hatchet is a wonderful peak. Hope you get that one.
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Postby MoapaPk » Wed Nov 04, 2009 11:01 pm

Plan your favored route; these are big states. It's a long ways from I-40 in Albuquerque to the Organ Mountains.
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Postby Day Hiker » Thu Nov 05, 2009 12:35 am

patssox09 wrote:Thanks. Some of those peaks look pretty cool, especially Moapa and Muddy Pk.

Day Hiker wrote:I haven't done Chiricahua in March, but I have on 27 October, 03 December, and 02 January. That date in October had no snow, but December and January did. The time I went up in January, I didn't bring snowshoes, and I wished I had.


Could you follow the trail still, with the snow, or was it blanket snow coverage everywhere?


I followed the trail for the most part, but it's been almost 6 years since my January ascent, so I forget if I had any other tracks to follow up. I just remember being able to accurately follow the trail up the entire way. My summit log reminds me that the snow was only about a foot deep, so the trail location was probably obvious.

It wasn't super hideous, but a disproportionate amount of the effort was on the top 1000 vertical feet, because the snow was deep enough to be a pain. It was just extra work, not enough to make me turn back. And it wasn't as bad as surgent's waist-deep experience.

On the trail's lower, icy parts, my summit log reminds me that I used crampons for traction.

Be psychologically prepared; there is no view from the summit. Although, you can catch a few nice views on the way up. Regardless of summit view, I like the peak, and I liked being on the summit. It was a cool place. There was nobody else around for all three times I went there.

I posted a summit photo here on SP to document the non-view from the summit, and someone has crapped all over it with votes (before the SP version 2 changeover), maybe because they think I'm ridiculing the peak. But I like it! I like it enough to have done it three times, and I live 500 miles away! I just thought it is informational to show what the summit looks like, even if it isn't Photo of the Week:

Image

http://www.summitpost.org/view_object.php?object_id=133338

(Photo is from 27 October 2005. No snow was on the trail anywhere then.)
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Postby Castlereagh » Wed Feb 17, 2010 9:29 pm

I couldn't tell from the SP page. Does anyone know if the roads to Miller Peak are 4WD only?
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Postby coldfoot » Thu Feb 18, 2010 10:30 pm

Do you mean the FS roads to access trailheads that are south of Sierra Vista? Carr Canyon road is drivable in a passenger car when dry. It could be spicy or impassable if there was snow or ice.
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Postby Castlereagh » Wed Mar 10, 2010 5:09 am

coldfoot wrote:Do you mean the FS roads to access trailheads that are south of Sierra Vista? Carr Canyon road is drivable in a passenger car when dry. It could be spicy or impassable if there was snow or ice.


Belated thanks! Hopefully my camry can make it up.

Leaving at the end of the week. Currently planning on doing as many of the following peaks as possible: Taylor (NM), Pastora, Humphreys, Hualapai, Lemmon, Miller, Chiricahua, Graham, and possibly Guadalupe's in TX (Big Hatchet unfortunately is out since I don't have 4WD).

Humphreys obviously will be very much snowed over. Guadalupe's and Hualapai I'm not too worried about. Lemmon has a road to the top. Of the rest, has anyone know how they are faring in terms of snow coverage?

I know Taylor will probably be snowed over; plan on walking the FR and XC'ing it through the woods to the top. Called Cibola Ranger Station, they insisted that no one EVER goes up Taylor in winter. I'll call BS on that one). Will have snowshoes for that and Pastora in AZ: not much tree cover so I'm hoping it's not to difficult to walk/snowshoe along the dirt road to the top. From the Humphreys thread I know that Northern AZ has been hit pretty heavily by snow, but ironically it's the southern AZ peaks I'm more concerned about, since they're more densely wooded.

Called the Forest Service, 366 (Swift Trail) is open up to the gate at the Shannon Campground. Looking at satellite pictures the road seems to cut a pretty thick swathe through the woods so I'm hoping even if it's snowed over it'll be an easy snowshoe hike?

Chiricahua I'm leaning towards Crest/Rustler Park. DayHiker, did you go that route or Turkey Park when you went in winter? Just from Google Earthing it it looks like Crest could have better views? As for Miller, would Montezuma Pass be a better route this time of year since it's south facing?

Thanks, will appreciate any advice/help I can get.

Also, as an FYI for anyone heading that way, since one of my backup plans is a quick hike down into the Grand Canyon and back I called up the NPS. They said despite some current snow storms all the trails are melting pretty fast, and are only a little icy in the quarter mile near the top; crampons are still recommended though. The one exception is Bright Angel, which is currently a mess of snow, ice, and wet sloggy mud.
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Postby Day Hiker » Wed Mar 10, 2010 7:08 am

Castlereagh wrote:Chiricahua I'm leaning towards Crest/Rustler Park. DayHiker, did you go that route or Turkey Park when you went in winter? Just from Google Earthing it it looks like Crest could have better views?


All three times were from the Mormon Creek trailhead (~6250 ft) on Turkey Creek Road (from the west). That is the only way I am familiar with.

Rustler Park is a much higher trailhead, around 8400 feet if I am not mistaken. All three times, I had a rear-wheel-drive road car, so a big issue for me was winter trailhead access. The first time I was there, snow was a bit of a problem in shaded areas near the top of the road, at only 6000 feet. Rear-wheel-drive cars are horrible uphill in snow, even though I always had four-season tires. This was in a sunny spot, where the snow was rapidly clearing from the road. I think this is where I stopped to put on the chains, on the way up:

Image

Image

Who needs a 4WD truck if you can have a Z28 with tire chains instead? Sure does make the drive to and from a lot faster. :D
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