snowpack blues

Regional discussion and conditions reports for the Golden State. Please post partners requests and trip plans in the California Climbing Partners forum.
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by Sleighty » Thu May 13, 2010 6:47 pm

Depending on exactly where you want to go in Yolla Bolly, you shouldn't have too much trouble. They got a lot of snow this year, but I was there in the dead of if and even in high snowpack it's fairly simple to get around. It actually has some potential for some cool way way out there scrambles/climbs. Forget what rock it is up there.

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by mrchad9 » Thu May 13, 2010 6:49 pm

rhyang wrote:I know you're a bit new around here, so I was just trying to give ya some advice about how we roll.

That was very elitist.

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Re: snowpack blues

by Diggler » Thu May 13, 2010 6:58 pm

alexjon3 wrote:Hi folks, first-time poster, long-time lurker.

So my wife and I have only ONE week this summer that we can get lost in the backcountry... the last week in June... and I am really bummed about the heavy snowpack.

Everyone tells me to go to the Lost Coast instead of the Sierras or Trinities, but I gotta satisfy my granite fix.

One thought I had was the Siskiyou Wilderness up near the Oregon border... pretty low but some nice granite-bound lakes, including Devil's Punchbowl, which should be mostly free of snow even in a year like this one.

But can anyone offer any other suggestions? Some snow is OK but my wife is uncomfortable with crampons.


This is funny- I think I was in Marmot (in Berkeley) the other day when you called & were asking for advice. I heard Paul talking to you. Some thoughts based on my experience, as well as just plain hear-say... :lol:

* Lost Coast- granite peaks or not, this IS a beautiful area- I feel sorry for any Calfornian hiker/backpacker who hasn't seen this amazing area.... while I'm sure it would be fine during your visit, though, fall is arguably the best time to check out this gem. You could hike King Peak while there.

* Klamaths/Trinities- while not that high in elevation, this area receives substantial snowpack. It is beautiful, lightly trodden, wild country. A lot of great stuff around here, but check the ranger station before going to see the snow line/levels.

* Lake Tahoe area- lower in elevation than the 'High Sierra' farther south, it is lovely around here, esp. with the 'crown jewel of the Sierra' right there. Tahoe rim trail is supposed to be pretty cool, & the (overrun by Bay Area & Sac types peak season) (anything but) Desolation Wilderness is quite pretty, with good backpacking & peak-bagging opportunities (Dicks Peak, Jacks Peak, Mt. Tallac, Pyramid Peak, ...)

* Yosemite's highcountry is spectacular, but much of it is above 8,000', so during a relatively high snow year like this, much of it likely won't be dry yet.

* Sequoia/Kings Canyon has great elevation differential between different areas of the park- it might benefit you to research this. The western part of the park is substantially lower than the portion closer to the Sierra crest, & thus is much warmer/less snowy. A good reference point might be the various sequoia groves- they like it around 4-5,000'.

* Lassen Volcanic National Park has some great backpacking opportunities, but this area has been known to receive world-record amounts of snowfall, so this is pretty self-explanatory...

If anything, I'd recommend checking out the various options presented by me, as well as others, & get a feel for the finer points of each one. As your date approaches, find out specific conditions for each area that appeals to you, & make your decision shortly before your trip. Good luck!

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by rhyang » Thu May 13, 2010 7:02 pm

Deal with it baby :lol: SP does have some egregious exceptions, but the intent is to stick with first hand info.

But on the subject of the Marble Mountain Wilderness, I took a nice 4 day trip there one July 4th weekend. Very beautiful, some great views of Mt. Shasta. Lovely forests. There was still snow at higher elevations and one particular traverse on the PCT high above a cirque where I got out an axe & crampons.

Maneaten Lake was one of the more scenic lakes I passed -



IMO It's beautiful country, granite or not.

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by butitsadryheat » Thu May 13, 2010 7:15 pm

Yes, it is. I may be going through there this summer. Might have to see if I have time to go see that. Thanks for the recommendation.

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by Sierra Ledge Rat » Fri May 14, 2010 3:01 am

What's wrong with a heavy snowpack? Think of all the advantges of a heavy snowpack:

-no stumbling through scree and talus
-you can glissade at will
-no searching for campsites with water
-you can bring your skis
-it's infintely prettier with snow than without

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by Marmaduke » Fri May 14, 2010 3:28 am

Sierra Ledge Rat wrote:What's wrong with a heavy snowpack? Think of all the advantges of a heavy snowpack:

-no stumbling through scree and talus
-you can glissade at will
-no searching for campsites with water
-you can bring your skis
-it's infintely prettier with snow than without

I'll look forwards to the snow hikes next year, too much to learn and not enough time right now. But I agree with the beauty of the mountains in the winter. I flew to Vegas last month and the Sierra was 100% clear of cloud cover. Was probably the most beautiful thing I've seen.

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by alexjon3 » Fri May 14, 2010 3:49 am

Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone! Can't wait to get out there...

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by Greg D » Fri May 14, 2010 2:58 pm

Suggestion: don't give advice on peaks you haven't climbed -- the beauty of SP is first-hand info.

If you're talking about individual mountain pages then, yeah, don't make one up if you haven't been on it. However, giving out suggestions that are on your list of places to go is encouraged. I'm assuming if someone else is interested then I might be too. That's one of the reasons I like this place, the possibility to explore places I haven't considered going before, and if the reason I discover and visit a place is from someones wish list - so what?

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by rhyang » Fri May 14, 2010 3:15 pm

Another one that comes to mind is the Kaiser Wilderness - ... reas.shtml

I've gone there a few times in late June. There can still be significant snow, but it's beautiful, there are a lot of lakes and you can always inquire about conditions. Contact the High Sierra ranger district for more info -

By then I'd expect the Eastwood USFS office to be open, which is near Huntington Lake. Kaiser Peak is the high point. The marmots, bears and mosquitoes will be hungry, be warned :)

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David Senesac

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by David Senesac » Sat May 15, 2010 5:21 am

There are alot of places that will be hikeable by the end of June. I could make a long list. Just not many of the classic alpine lake basin areas most backpackers target. Instead you may need to be content staying down in the bowels of stream canyons. For instance hiking up the South Fork of the San Joaquin River between Florence Lake but not climbing up above about 8.4k. Very pleasant stream areas but again no lakes. Also could hike down the Tuolumne from Tuolumne Meadows to all the fall areas below Glen Aulin. Do your homework by grabbing a trail guide at a book store.

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by SJ » Sat May 15, 2010 2:44 pm

Record snowpack - 143% of normal according to CA Dept of Water Resources ... 5266.story


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