I copied this post from the Yahoo JMT forum. Ned Tibbits does this trip report pretty much every year, which is used by PCT hikers and others to gauge the early conditions in the High Sierra:
Mountain Education just got back from its annual, Snow Advanced Course over Forester Pass from Kennedy Meadows!
Too much to say right now, but we posted the current snow condition report on the Facebook page, Pacific Crest Trail, and a few, quick pictures to give you an idea of what itís like out there in a photo album on the Mountain Education FB page! https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.796654357025720.1073741836.157155614308934&type=3
In case you arenít involved with Facebook, here is what we wrote about the snowpack:
ďForester Pass/Southern Sierra on-trail conditions update May 17:
Mountain Education was on Forester the day before yesterday on May 17 (see photo):
- continuous snow from Tyndall crossing over Forester all the way down to Upper Vidette.
- depth varies from 0 to 3 feet.
- trailbed has snow and ice in many long sections on the way up.
- if crossing in the morning, microspikes in existing footholds or crampons in your own are required.
- about 2 or 3 dozen thrus are in the area, but I have no idea how many have crossed Forester, but there are footholds cut into the "chute" already!
- if crossing anytime after 1100, the snow (unless the temps get warm again; snow expected as Davey McCoy﻿ said) gets ridiculously soft/soupy making for wallowing conditions and terrifically nasty postholing plunges. Get your ascents and all snow hiking done by 1100 or your day will be miserable!
- From Kennedy Meadows north, there are very few predictable water sources. Carry enough water for the day till you get to Chicken Spring Lake.
- Snow Levels:
Southern Exposures, snowline 11,000
Northern Exposures, snowline 10,500
Descents into Crabtree and Wallace Creeks are dangerous with steep snow. Be in these areas during that "magic hour" when the snow isnít hard nor soft so you can get enough "stick" to not slip or posthole.
Chicken Spring is open around the edges and about 3 feet low, so very little water is flowing out.
Forester lakes are frozen, but you can dig in to get water.
Bullfrog is open around the edges.
Kearsarge lakes are thinning around the edges with inflows open.
- Bugs: NONE! Great time to be in the high sierra!
- Bears: No signs
- Marmots and ground squirrels are out and looking for salt!Ē
Ned Tibbits, Director