Posts Tagged ‘PCT’

Tea Time in the Palisades

June 25, 2012

The sun was blazing, the snow was melted, and the trail was mostly missing on our six-day circumnavigation around the Palisades Range in the California Sierra Nevada.  Before leaving the city, we took a detour into Chinatown and bought special tea for our trip.  We made a video about the heady brew of mountaineering and tea:

Our route started at Big Pine (BP) Creek, west of Big Pine, California.  From the BP trailhead, we followed the south fork creek and camped at Elinore Lake.  On the second day, we crossed Scimitar Pass (which is not marked on all maps), took a tea break in Palisade Basin, and then crossed Cirque Pass and camped on a shelf below Palisade Lakes.  On the third day, we followed the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) to Grouse Meadows in LeConte Canyon, where we enjoyed more tea took a zero day on the day 4.  On the fifth day, we climbed from Grouse Meadows into Dusy Basin and over Bishop Pass.  In the burning afternoon, we climbed Jigsaw Pass and camped near the outlet creek to the fifth Big Pine Lake on the north fork.  On the sixth day, we cruised downhill and visited the fourth, third, second, and first Big Pine Lakes, and then finally returned to the BP trailhead.

Scimitar Pass and Jigsaw Pass are both class 2-3 passes, and it was difficult to find comprehensive information about their conditions.  Some general information about cross-country Sierra passes has been collected here: http://sierrabackpacker.com/sierrapasses-new.htm

For Scimitar Pass, I wrote a detailed description on High Sierra Topix bulletin board: link here.

Most of my research about Scimitar came from Bob Burd’s website.  His reports and images were accurate: http://www.snwburd.com/bob/trip_reports/palisade_crest_1.html

Bob traced a blue line on the map linked below.  This blue line generally follows a use trail across and around Willow Lake.  Once crossing to the north side of the creek (past Willow Lake), the use trail disappears.  At this point, boulder-hop along the creek; you may see cairns.
 http://www.snwburd.com/bob/maps/palisade_crest_1.html

On the approach to Scimitar Pass, Bob’s route goes up the right-hand slot (shown below).  However, I climbed the scree to the center-left.  I avoided the slot because I couldn’t determine it’s difficulty. http://www.snwburd.com/bob/trip_photos/palisade_crest_1/DSC00013_w5.html

For Jigsaw Pass, I found good pictures at this Webshots collection: http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/186080531DwLfCi

. . .and I also found good data at Bob Burd’s website: http://www.snwburd.com/bob/trip_photos/picture_puzzle_1/index_t.html

In general, when I climbed Jigsaw west-to-east, I chose the right side chute (indicated in this photo).  The scree looks crazy from below, but I stuck to the cliff wall and found plenty of hand holds to pull myself up the scree slide.  When I reached the thick white mineral band descending from Aperature Peak, the scree ended and the route continued on solid class 2+ rock (like a steep staircase).  About halfway up the chute, there are remnants of a rock switchback (once upon a time, there was a trail over Jigsaw Pass).  Basically, the top half of Jigsaw’s west side climb is straightforward and safe, although it looks crazy from below.  After reaching the pass, the descent down the east side is not difficult, per se, but it does involve seemingly endless boulder-hopping.  The best route is to follow the creek — sometimes boulder-hopping above the creek — all the way to the fifth Big Pine Lake.  There are cairns along the way, but they’re not really necessary.

notes on South Sister circumnavigation

August 9, 2009

This weekend, I circumnavigated the South Sister with L.L. and E.F.  You can view my Flickr media (click here).

Our route combined a mix of trails and cross-country travel, and roughly followed the path shown on the Traditional Mountaineering website.  In summary, we started at the Devil’s Lake trailhead and hiked across the Wikiup Plain to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).  We traveled north on the PCT until Separation Creek; from here, we trekked cross-country upstream to the ridge connecting South Sister and Middle Sister.  We traversed over the moraines surrounding Chambers Lakes, and descended on a rough climbers trail to Camp Lake.  We bivvy-camped on a ridge above Camp Lake.  In the morning, we traversed cross-country along the east shoulders of South Sister and joined the trail north of Green Lakes.  After a short break at Green Lakes, we followed the trail to the Green Lakes trailhead and then walked along the road to return to our car  at the Devil’s Lake trailead.

Overall, the route was straightforward.  The cross-country section south of Camp Lake provided some (fun) navigational challenges, but I don’t think it was particularly dangerous.  Here is a map (linked from the Traditional Mountaineering website):


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