SECTION H

April 1 Backpacker Alert–SPRING THREATS ON FULL DISPLAY

By: Alex Wierbinski, Tahoe to Whitney
April 4th, 2017

 

SPRING THREATS ON FULL DISPLAY

April 1, 2017
The most important topic of this date is the massive snowpack on the Sierra Crest and the extreme danger it poses to PCT hikers. The dangers of High Altitude Snow Travel will soon be supplemented by very dangerous fording conditions when this snowpack begins to thaw.

These conditions require skills, gear, and fitness to assure any level of safe travel as of this date. Undercutting and safety along the banks of creeks emerging from snow cover is currently increasing, as will the difficulty of travel conditions increase as the pack softens under the increasing heat of Spring.

Extremely difficult travel conditions will soon shift from hard snow that defies traction to wet snow offering no foundation. We will shortly transition from barely clinging to the mountain-side to sinking up to our waists with each step. As Spring progresses cold mornings will bring the former condition, warm afternoons the latter.

The same temp shift driving the changing character of the snow pack will soon drive even the highest elevation river fords to levels unsafe for fording, and make the major rivers raging torrents of destruction. These temp shifts change the character of the Sierra.

The snowpack itself will become sopping wet, saturating anything and anyone in contact with it. These are the times that hikers without sufficient insulation can find cold combining with exhaustion to degrade decision making as well as technical execution & style to create very dangerous situations.
I see wet, cold, and tired PCT hikers surrounded by a sea of deep, wet, cold, energy-sucking snow fields all divided-up by an endless series of raging torrents of typically tiny High Sierra creeks surging like rivers, each supercharged by Spring’s mighty flows.

The trails will be flowing like creeks, when we get down to them. And they will lead to the mighty rivers draining the Sierra, which will be downright scary, once this massive snow pack begins to melt in earnest.

Take Care and Bee Safe

for

Happy Trails,

Alex

More Information

All Backpacker Alerts

http://tahoetowhitney.org/forum/high-sierra-backpacking-topics/high-sierra-backpackers-news-health-science-environment-and-m-1

Latest (April 1) Snow Course Measurement

http://tahoetowhitney.org/content/backpacker-news-april-may-2017#10

All Tahoe-Whitney Snow Tracking & Links: Backpacker Calendar

https://tahoetowhitney.com/2017-high-sierra–backpackers-calendar.html#4

Weather Page: Snow Links

http://tahoetowhitney.org/content/fall-2011-backpacker-weather-trail-conditions-reports#8a

Weather Page: River Flows

http://tahoetowhitney.org/content/fall-2011-backpacker-weather-trail-conditions-reports#4c2

PCT Hiker Snow Accident & Conditions Report

https://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php/124075-Fuller-Ridge-Mile-178-190

High Sierra Mountain Safety: Wrecks & Rescues

http://tahoetowhitney.org/content/high-sierra-rescue-disaster-index#2

Blasting closure of JMT/PCT in Lyell Canyon on September 21st

By: Dave Kari
September 17th, 2014

Trail crews will be using explosives on the PCT/JMT in Lyell Canyon on the morning of Sunday Sept 21, 2014 at approximately 11:00 AM, with Monday Sept 22, 2014 as an alternative date. This blasting will be performed as part of the rerouting of The Pacific Crest/John Muir Trail about 1/3 mile north of the Ireland Creek Jct.
There will be a travel delay for north/south traffic for up to 1 hour at this time.
For questions or concerns please contact Dave Kari 379-1293.

Sierra snow conditions for Forester Pass area – May 16, 2014

By: Ned Tibbits
May 16th, 2014

Ned Tibbits of http://mountaineducation.org/ called the PCTA office via satellite phone from the base of Forester Pass. He takes yearly early season trips to the PCT in the High Sierra.

Ned reports:
– Consistent snow on north facing slopes about 10,500 feet. It’s “hard and nasty in the morning and rediculously soft and slushy in the afternoon. Postholing starts around 11am or noon.”
– North of Tyndall Creek, the snow line starts at about 11,000 feet on south-facing slopes.
– On Forester Pass, the switchbacks are full of ice and Ned recommends climbing the rocks instead. In the chute on the south side of the pass there is snow on the trail. Someone has cut steps. There is “a minor cornice” at the top of the chute.
– There is very little water in general, with seasonal creeks being only a trickle. The larger creeks are flowing moderately strongly.

Bear Creek ford/ Edison lake water taxi

By: Daytripper
July 1st, 2013

June 22 – Bear Creek ford (mile 869.25) quite easy – depth only at mid-calf.
June 23 – VVR water taxi on Edison Lake now running both in morning (9:45) and evening (4:45). Pickup point at east end of Edison Lake marked by US flag. Due to low water, pickup point is on dry lake bed about 1/4 mile farther west than dock at high water mark.

Muir Trail Ranch

By: Marianna
June 17th, 2013

I emailed the Muir Trail Ranch about food and resupply as well as trail conditions and they stated in their reply the following. “Since we’re not open for resupply yet we haven’t talked with anyone who’s actually been on the trail about conditions. The snow pack in our area is very low, and the stream crossing are easy.”

Nov/Dec 2011 windstorm damage

By: Jack Haskel
January 18th, 2013

A severe windstorm blew through the Sierra Nevada in late November, early December 2011. Over 4000 trees were cleared during summer 2012. The Pacific Crest Trail is fully open through the area thanks to the hard work of many devoted individuals.

Many thousands of hazardous trees remain standing. They could fall at any time. This danger will persist in the Reds Meadow, Tully Hole and Purple Lake area for years to come. As always, travel and camp with caution.

May 17, 2011

Due to record snowfall reported by Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, Reds Meadow road is projected to open later than normal this year. The US Forest Service, Caltrans, National Park Service, and Town of Mammoth Lakes will be working cooperatively to open the road and valley facilities as quickly as possible. The Reds Meadow Road to Devils Postpile National Monument and the Reds Meadow Valley is tentatively scheduled to open June 24th.Shuttle Bus service into the Reds Meadow Valley is scheduled to begin on Saturday June 25th.

Pacific Crest and John Muir trail thru-hikers who are planning food drops or resupplies via Reds Meadow Valley should be advised that June 24th is a tentative opening date and there is a possibility the road opening could be further delayed. Vehicle access to pick up hikers or drop off supplies is not allowed until the road is open to the public. Hikers with these needs may want to consider using Mammoth Pass to Horseshoe Lake for alternative resupply staging.

For more information, please call the Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center at (760) 924-5500 or visit the Welcome Center at 2510 Hwy 203 next to the Mammoth Ranger Station.

April 27, 2011

From the Sierra Wave news – Pacific Crest and John Muir trail thru-hikers who are planning food drops or resupplies via Reds Meadow Valley should be advised that June 24th is a tentative opening date and there is a possibility the road opening could be further delayed. Vehicle access to pick up hikers or drop off supplies is not allowed until the road is open to the public. Hikers with these needs may want to consider using Mammoth Pass to Horseshoe Lake for alternative resupply staging.

Photo by: Nathaniel Middleton