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Re: Cathedral Pass and my Swiss Army Knife

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Cathedral Pass and my Swiss Army Knife
June 14, 2010 12:47PM
Just got back from Cathedral Pass yesterday. Left from the Cathedral Lakes trailhead friday morning. I hurried up there thinking I'd better hurry because it's such a popular trail, but when I didn't see any cars at the trailhead, I suspected something was up. Having been on Mt Whitney the week before with temps at an astounding 70 degrees at 12,000 ft, I figured, I'd try Echo Peaks, and there wouldn't be that much snow. As usual I was wrong, and had to put on my snowshoes less than a 1/4 mile in from the trailhead. The trail disappeared as well. Spent a lot of time between my map and gps, because even though there are some rather large landmarks, once in the trees, you can't see a thing. In some areas, the sun cups are rather large and annoying even with snowshoes. Ran into 3 backpackers about an hour into the hike. They were anxious to get out. They got pummeled by high winds the night before, and without their gps (they forgot it) didn't even know what lake they were at. From their description, it might've been the unnamed lake just below Cathedral Pass. I pointed them in the general direction, but one of them was in such a hurry to get out before the big black clouds moved in from the East, he went off in the wrong direction. I told his mates to find him, and go the other way. Route finding took longer than expected, and with a light snow flurry (very light) decided to just camp at Cathedral Lake, though in hindsight, this was not good for getting to Echo Peaks. Very windy that night, Friday, and a bit chilly. The next morning, packed up, and headed for Cathedral Pass, though from Cathedral Lake, it didn't look like there was anyway over there except over some huge ridge that I didn't feel like climbing with snowshoes and a full pack. Well, sure enough I just ignored what my eyes were telling me and followed the map and gps, and like magic there was the unnamed lake and Cathedral Pass just past it. Almost no climbing.

The creek just beyond the pass called the Cathedral Fork according to my GPS, was accessible, though much of the rest of it as far as I could see was still covered in snow, though much of that was collapsing. I camped in the trees opposite the open water, and underneath the western approach to Echo Peaks 1-4. This place is quite impressive, and no one around. no footprints, nothing. It was still a little windy, but it got very warm. Started climbing up through the trees in very slushy snow. Though it seemed like forever, it only took about 35 minutes to break out above the treeline and onto a sort of flat/slanting plateau. But to my disappointment, there was a steep snowfield about 150-200 ft up the mountain between me and the rest of the climb (class 3). I sat there for way too long trying to find excuses for going up through steep (30-35 degrees), warm, and probably unstable snow. In the end, being alone, I figured Echo Peaks will be around for awhile, and just hung out. Once I let go of the whole getting to the top thing, I realized how truly amazing the whole area is, especially when you have it to yourself (well, Bill and Chick-On were up there too, but somewhere else). Cathedral Peak, Matthes Crest, Echo Ridge etc. I have to thank the sierra club for the winter skills training that allows me to take advantage of the place.

Anyway, to the swiss army knife. Well actually a replica that I got as a souvenir at Kings Canyon a couple years ago. One of those ones with a name on it. They didn't have my name, so I got "Ron". Have you ever wondered, "what in the world would I ever do with some of these little tools, like this little saw, cut down a friqqin tree?" "What the heck". Well, that night, it got down to something like 20 degrees. Cold as hell. I normally use those little wood skewers as snow anchors. They snap in two if I pull hard on the tent line. I ran out of them, so I used twigs lying around the campsite. The next morning, I could not, with any amount of pulling, or chisleing with my carbon tipped hiking pole or shovel (useless on hard snow and ice), get my tent lines out. They were only set a few inches down if that, but it was solid. Made me reflect back on the possibility of becoming a snow anchor myself on the snowfield under Echo Peak. Finally I thought, let me pull out the one thing I've never used on these trips except to open the stupid bear vault when my hands are too cold. My Kings Canyon Swiss Army knife replica. OK, the corkscrew. Looks good, but only if I want to open a bottle of wine and wait for the sun to soften up the snow. Aha, the saw. Amazingly, this little thing went through the hard snow and ice. I just sawed the twigs in half, and easily pulled out my tent lines. Easily worth the 5 bucks I paid for this thing. I'll never doubt the Swiss again, although I still don't really get the holes in Swiss cheese.

It got warm again, and though I hated to leave, I packed out. Ran into 3 climbers coming up the trail near the trailhead. Just shorts and low cut approach shoes. Only people I saw for two days. I told them they wouldn't get too far, but they continued on. 30 minutes later as I was packing away my gear they came out disappointed that they would not be able to climb Cathedral. I stopped at the ranger station to give them an update, and there were about 15 people, 10 of them from Portland, waiting to get permits to go in. none of them had snowshoes, nor were they really prepared for winter conditions. Though the rangers appreciated the update, the climbers/backpackers were thoroughly disappointed. I suspect the deal was that the rangers knew they weren't prepared, and probably wouldn't make it to Cathedral lake, thereby meaning they would camp in prohibited areas, and more importantly, there was the safety issue considering how and cold and windy it got the two days/nights prior. Though I wasn't party to the conversations, I got the impression that the rangers were leery about handing out permits. I think the Portland group decided to spend the night in one of the Lee Vining Canyon campgrounds, and try the sunrise trailhead the next day. They sure had alot of climbing gear, but unfortunately, no gear for actually getting to the mountain to use it. Nice group of people.

Anyway, that's my trip report. If I get some alpine climbing skills, Yosemite could become my home away from home for most of the year.
avatar Re: Cathedral Pass and my Swiss Army Knife
June 14, 2010 01:17PM
Quote
from_mars
Left from the Cathedral Lakes trailhead friday morning.

That accounts for 1/3 of the cars at the trailhead Friday afternoon.

Quote

OK, the corkscrew.

Those do actually work as intended. Had a German couple stop me while I was taking a walk in Porcupine Creek campground one afternoon. They asked if I had a corkscrew. Reached in my pocket for my Swiss army knife and opened their wine bottle. They looked a bit stunned. winking smiley
avatar Re: Cathedral Pass and my Swiss Army Knife
June 14, 2010 05:13PM
Quote
from_mars
Just got back from Cathedral Pass yesterday. Left from the Cathedral Lakes trailhead friday morning. I hurried up there thinking I'd better hurry because it's such a popular trail, but when I didn't see any cars at the trailhead, I suspected something was up. Having been on Mt Whitney the week before with temps at an astounding 70 degrees at 12,000 ft, I figured, I'd try Echo Peaks, and there wouldn't be that much snow. As usual I was wrong, and had to put on my snowshoes less than a 1/4 mile in from the trailhead. The trail disappeared as well. Spent a lot of time between my map and gps, because even though there are some rather large landmarks, once in the trees, you can't see a thing. In some areas, the sun cups are rather large and annoying even with snowshoes. Ran into 3 backpackers about an hour into the hike. They were anxious to get out. They got pummeled by high winds the night before, and without their gps (they forgot it) didn't even know what lake they were at. From their description, it might've been the unnamed lake just below Cathedral Pass. I pointed them in the general direction, but one of them was in such a hurry to get out before the big black clouds moved in from the East, he went off in the wrong direction. I told his mates to find him, and go the other way. Route finding took longer than expected, and with a light snow flurry (very light) decided to just camp at Cathedral Lake, though in hindsight, this was not good for getting to Echo Peaks. Very windy that night, Friday, and a bit chilly. The next morning, packed up, and headed for Cathedral Pass, though from Cathedral Lake, it didn't look like there was anyway over there except over some huge ridge that I didn't feel like climbing with snowshoes and a full pack. Well, sure enough I just ignored what my eyes were telling me and followed the map and gps, and like magic there was the unnamed lake and Cathedral Pass just past it. Almost no climbing.

The creek just beyond the pass called the Cathedral Fork according to my GPS, was accessible, though much of the rest of it as far as I could see was still covered in snow, though much of that was collapsing. I camped in the trees opposite the open water, and underneath the western approach to Echo Peaks 1-4. This place is quite impressive, and no one around. no footprints, nothing. It was still a little windy, but it got very warm. Started climbing up through the trees in very slushy snow. Though it seemed like forever, it only took about 35 minutes to break out above the treeline and onto a sort of flat/slanting plateau. But to my disappointment, there was a steep snowfield about 150-200 ft up the mountain between me and the rest of the climb (class 3). I sat there for way too long trying to find excuses for going up through steep (30-35 degrees), warm, and probably unstable snow. In the end, being alone, I figured Echo Peaks will be around for awhile, and just hung out. Once I let go of the whole getting to the top thing, I realized how truly amazing the whole area is, especially when you have it to yourself (well, Bill and Chick-On were up there too, but somewhere else). Cathedral Peak, Matthes Crest, Echo Ridge etc. I have to thank the sierra club for the winter skills training that allows me to take advantage of the place.

Anyway, to the swiss army knife. Well actually a replica that I got as a souvenir at Kings Canyon a couple years ago. One of those ones with a name on it. They didn't have my name, so I got "Ron". Have you ever wondered, "what in the world would I ever do with some of these little tools, like this little saw, cut down a friqqin tree?" "What the heck". Well, that night, it got down to something like 20 degrees. Cold as hell. I normally use those little wood skewers as snow anchors. They snap in two if I pull hard on the tent line. I ran out of them, so I used twigs lying around the campsite. The next morning, I could not, with any amount of pulling, or chisleing with my carbon tipped hiking pole or shovel (useless on hard snow and ice), get my tent lines out. They were only set a few inches down if that, but it was solid. Made me reflect back on the possibility of becoming a snow anchor myself on the snowfield under Echo Peak. Finally I thought, let me pull out the one thing I've never used on these trips except to open the stupid bear vault when my hands are too cold. My Kings Canyon Swiss Army knife replica. OK, the corkscrew. Looks good, but only if I want to open a bottle of wine and wait for the sun to soften up the snow. Aha, the saw. Amazingly, this little thing went through the hard snow and ice. I just sawed the twigs in half, and easily pulled out my tent lines. Easily worth the 5 bucks I paid for this thing. I'll never doubt the Swiss again, although I still don't really get the holes in Swiss cheese.

It got warm again, and though I hated to leave, I packed out. Ran into 3 climbers coming up the trail near the trailhead. Just shorts and low cut approach shoes. Only people I saw for two days. I told them they wouldn't get too far, but they continued on. 30 minutes later as I was packing away my gear they came out disappointed that they would not be able to climb Cathedral. I stopped at the ranger station to give them an update, and there were about 15 people, 10 of them from Portland, waiting to get permits to go in. none of them had snowshoes, nor were they really prepared for winter conditions. Though the rangers appreciated the update, the climbers/backpackers were thoroughly disappointed. I suspect the deal was that the rangers knew they weren't prepared, and probably wouldn't make it to Cathedral lake, thereby meaning they would camp in prohibited areas, and more importantly, there was the safety issue considering how and cold and windy it got the two days/nights prior. Though I wasn't party to the conversations, I got the impression that the rangers were leery about handing out permits. I think the Portland group decided to spend the night in one of the Lee Vining Canyon campgrounds, and try the sunrise trailhead the next day. They sure had alot of climbing gear, but unfortunately, no gear for actually getting to the mountain to use it. Nice group of people.

Anyway, that's my trip report. If I get some alpine climbing skills, Yosemite could become my home away from home for most of the year.

I'm curious about this unnamed lake near Cathedral Pass. The only lakes I know of in that area are upper Cathedral Lake and Echo Lake directly south of Echo Peaks.
Re: Cathedral Pass and my Swiss Army Knife
June 14, 2010 06:14PM
My GPS (Garmin) had no name for that lake, however, upon further review of my National Geographic map, it does refer to Cathedral Lake(s). I didn't make out the 's', and assumed it referred only to the lake at the end of the Cathedral Lakes trail. My mistake. The lake I referred to as unnamed and just beneath Cathedral Pass is more than likely upper Cathedral lake.

Thanks
avatar Re: Cathedral Pass and my Swiss Army Knife
June 14, 2010 08:12PM
Roland,
If you want another one of those swiss army knives ... it's yours.
We found one with Winchester on it... 4oz. Saw and all
at Cathedral Creek / Tuolumne.
Little rusty but works fine. Looks new other than the rust.
4 oz is like 4 twinkies and 4 ho hos. Plus... if someone gets
hungry and has a knife... I just dunno... me might not feel so safe...
if you know what I mean.



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Cathedral Pass and my Swiss Army Knife
June 15, 2010 08:39AM
Thanks Chick-On, but mine is hardly ever used, so it's like new. 4 twinkies weigh 2 ounces?
avatar Re: Cathedral Pass and my Swiss Army Knife
June 15, 2010 01:20PM
Quote
from_mars
4 twinkies weigh 2 ounces?

The uranium makes them heavier than they look?
avatar Re: Cathedral Pass and my Swiss Army Knife
June 15, 2010 01:38PM
Quote
eeek
Quote
from_mars
4 twinkies weigh 2 ounces?

The uranium makes them heavier than they look?

Dey worth der weights in gold.

Ok, I lie though... they heavier than that... 10 twinkies about 15 oz.
Ewe do da math.

Chickon Boo



Chick-on is looking at you!
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