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Re: 8-9k feet elevation next week - with crampons?

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8-9k feet elevation next week - with crampons?
June 24, 2017 07:15PM
We've decided to stick to our "plan A" and head up Chilnuala Creek next week (1st week of July). Stream crossing dangers well noted and will be prudent. If we are able to get up towards Ostrander/Horse Ridge/Buena Vista we'll be at ~8-9k feet elevation. I had hoped to walk along the BV Crest to... who knows where?

Most recent NPS reports available state that there is 3+ feet of snow (100% coverage) starting above 8.5k'. I'd hoped to be out for a full week +/- and of course want to have what is needed and only what is needed. Hard call there...

Kahtoolas, crampons, snowshoes? I don't see (unavoidable) post-holing a problem so I don't think the 'shoes will come along. The Kahtoolas are light but I've had best luck with them for partial coverage.

That leaves crampons (maybe gaiters too). I just don't have experience with July after a snow year like this. Is that overkill? There are so many variables here I realize it's a very subjective question (probably with no "correct" answer). Worst case is to not go where 'shoes or crampons are required if we didn't bring them. Thoughts? Thanks.

Edit: I think this is mostly about what conditions to expect. I've summited Shasta in June with just hiking boots (a route more to the west than the most popular route). Summiting Mt. Hood in June required crampons & ice axe (self-arrest on long unbroken ascent and lots of ice at the "Pearly Gate"winking smiley. I've read other posts suggesting crampons for Clouds Rest in May/June (this year) and others indicating the Snow Creek route from Mirror lake in May (this year) didn't require anything. Soft snow and little exposure would lead me to choose hiking boots. Icy conditions for large percentage on narrow ridges with exposure would lead me to choose crampons & ice axe. Unfortunately I've not been up Horse Ridge or BV Ridge ever, and as I said I have not been in the high country this year so don't know how much snow this crazy season has left in July.

For others trying to determine current conditions in the back country, I found this pretty good, official link: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wildcond.htm
Hope it can help others (I'm sure many already know of it but add it here just in case)

For the area I'm looking at I found this:

Glacier Point Rd: Ostrander Lake, Illilouette Creek:
The trail to Ostrander Lake is clear until the last mile and then is 100% covered with depths of 3 ft. Mono Meadows are completely flooded. Illilouette Creek is impassable at Mono Meadow junction. Hikers will need to go to the panorama trail and use the bridge there to cross Illilouette Creek.

South End: Chinualna Creek:
The trail to Chinualna Falls is clear. Crossing Chilnualna Creek to the south is not recommended at this time. Once across, patches of snow begin to grow as elevation is gained hitting 100% snowpack around 8,500 feet.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/26/2017 11:59AM by ags.
Re: 8-9k feet elevation next week - with crampons?
June 26, 2017 12:25AM
I've had good luck over the years with crampons plus gaitors anytime I hit solid snow in the summer. I even like to use gaitors for stream crossings and swampy areas. I've seen some people use walking sticks instead of crampons, but they don't work as well for me. They are useful to help avoid problems with postholes and snow bridges that you can't see. Snowshoes are just too bulky for me to carry when I'm not using them. I'd say it's more of a personal thing, and you can find what works best for you by doing some experimenting.
avatar Re: 8-9k feet elevation next week - with crampons?
June 27, 2017 06:59AM
Let me clarify two crampon comments above:

Snow Creek trail should NEVER require crampons.
Kahtoolas if enough have gone on and it's icy.
It's a trail with a gentle slope...
It's like Yosemite Falls trail...

Clouds Rest from the West... is a STEEP Slope in
which the trail can be non existent...

Anywho... for your trip at most kahtoolas...
Probably don't need anything... unless you plan
on going down or up Horse Ridge or similar
(instead of traversing) (which you should do)

I think I brought my crampons to Hoffmann in big snow
... and never put them on...

kahtoolas are good for early morning or wooded hiking
in snow when the snow has solidified back up and
you need traction.

Anyway... have fun.

Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: 8-9k feet elevation next week - with crampons?
June 27, 2017 09:07AM
Nope, we expect to traverse the ridges (Horse, BV, other?) not ascend (mountaineering) up the steep slopes. That presumes that we can find a gentle way up to begin the ascent, which from topo maps looks possible on when heading east/west-ish.

We'll skip the crampons (always fun to play with, not fun to carry the extra 2 pounds all week...) and probably the Katoolahs too. By the time we get up on any of the ridges things probably will have had a chance to thaw if they froze overnight. (??)

Thanks for the reply! and...

We will have fun out there! :-)
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