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Southern Sierra High Route
#41140 12/10/14 12:06 AM
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Steve C Offline OP
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Here's a report from someone who hiked the "Southern Sierra High Route", covering the mountains between South Lake out of Bishop, all the way to Horseshoe Meadow.

The Southern Sierra High Route - A Guide
by Alan Dixon and Don Wilson

Much of the route covers the John Muir Trail, but avoids the trail (staying closer to the Sierra crest) from Leconte Meadows (below Bishop Pass) south to Palisade Lakes. It follows the JMT from there over Mather Pass, Pinchot Pass and Glenn Pass. At Center Basin (N of Forrester Pass), they took the old JMT route over Junction Pass and Shepherd Pass.

Then they stayed close to Mt Tyndall, visited Wright Lakes and Tulainyo Lake, climbed Russell/Carrillon Pass, descended to Upper Boy Scout Lk, up the Mountaineers Route of Mt Whitney, along the crest, then descended from Trail Crest to the uppermost Crabtree Lake. Over Crabtree Pass, Sky Blue Lake, Army Pass, out to Horseshoe Meadow.


I think I recall Rogue Photonic covered the section north of Palisade Lakes to South Lake in his last report.

Next summer, I am thinking about the southern end of that route. I'd like to see Sky Blue Lake, maybe climb Langley as a side trip.

Here's my favorite picture from the report.

Caption:   Don explores the shoreline of beautiful Golden Bear Lake. The lake lies at 11,171 feet in pristine Center Basin, on the way to Junction Pass. Lots of solitude here as it is on a portion of the old JMT that has been "decommissioned" for years.

Re: Southern Sierra High Route
Steve C #41143 12/10/14 07:30 AM
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Another resource is:

Sierra Crest Route: and other routes less traveled, by Leonard Daughenbaugh, published by Sierra Nevada Publishing House, Bishop, CA, in which the Mt. Whitney area is covered in considerable detail.

Last edited by Bob West; 12/10/14 07:32 AM.
Re: Southern Sierra High Route
Steve C #41147 12/10/14 01:32 PM
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What a great route and a great contribution. I too have often wondered why the SHR ends where it does instead of continuing on this general route. This settles that!

One technical detail though: how do you start and finish on the same side of the Crest, making an uneven number (7) of crossings of the Crest?


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Re: Southern Sierra High Route
Steve C #41152 12/11/14 05:53 AM
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I was a bit confused by it being called the Sierra High Route since only the start follows it at all but sounds like a good route although anymore I like to avoid the JMT all I can.

Re: Southern Sierra High Route
saltydog #41156 12/11/14 08:45 PM
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He mentions that starting from LeConte Canyon to Whitney Portal the SoSHR crosses the Crest seven times. So from LeConte Canyon he'd be starting from the west side of the Crest.

Re: Southern Sierra High Route
tweederjohnson #41157 12/11/14 09:37 PM
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Steve's post starts at LeConte, but Dixon actually describes the route as beginning at the South Lake TH. Starting at LeConte, then it looks like five crosses: Junction Pass, Shepherd Pass, Russell-Carillon, Mountaineers Route and Army. Maybe he's counting tagging a peak at the crest as crossing it over and back.

It looks like a great route, in any case, and much of it I have planned to use in my John Muir Route next summer.


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Re: Southern Sierra High Route
saltydog #41159 12/12/14 05:47 AM
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Pretty freakin' cool stuff.

If one wished to avoid the JMT a bit more, there is a route that passes to the west of Mather Pass and goes over what my dad and I called "Amphitheater" Pass when we went over it some years ago. This route has a big negative if one is doing the SoSHR in that it drops below 9000' as it crosses Palisade Creek, but it's an interesting variant if a) one wants to stay off trail more or b) one is doing the JMT proper and just wants a shorter XC jaunt.

The west side of Amphitheater Pass is class 3 but doable. There are a couple of cliff like bands, but you can thread your way through them.

Just something to file away in your memory banks for the future if it ever appears useful.

HJ


Backpacking stove reviews and information: Adventures In Stoving
Re: Southern Sierra High Route
hikin_jim #41160 12/12/14 12:39 PM
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Jim: I am looking closely at an Amphitheater Pass variation for my John Muir Route next summer. There seem to be a couple of good choices: did you exit from Amphitheater Lake to Upper Basin, or go south through Dumbell and Lakes Basin, over Cartridge Pass and down to the South Fork?


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Re: Southern Sierra High Route
saltydog #41174 12/13/14 08:49 PM
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We went via Upper Basin. The pass between Amphitheater Lake and Upper Basin was a bit of a trick, but nothing undoable. We did it with full packs with no problems. The line we took was mostly class 2 with maybe some class 3. The west side of the pass is the more difficult side.

Going through Dumbell Lakes looks tough, but it would probably be really really interesting. I bet very few people go through there. It might be an interesting route to the Middle Fork of the Kings River via Cartridge Creek, but it looks like some really rough going.

HJ


Backpacking stove reviews and information: Adventures In Stoving
Re: Southern Sierra High Route
Steve C #41175 12/14/14 05:28 PM
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I have not used Upper Basin Crossing but the only real problem with heading for Dumbbell Lakes is Cataract Creek Pass. The upper section is some what difficult although I have not done it without any snow. The SW side is class 1. Dumbbell Lakes Pass is mostly a talus hop and Cartridge Pass is mostly class 1-2.

Re: Southern Sierra High Routeis sounbds like hugely valuabl
RoguePhotonic #41176 12/14/14 05:48 PM
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RP: This sounds like hugely valuable information for me. Could you identify specifically what you are identifying as Cataract Creek Pass and Dumbbell Lakes Pass? Cartridge Pass is clearly Identified on the USGS maps I have, but the other two are not. Do you have a route track through this area? Thanks for whatever you can provide.


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SPOTMe!
Re: Southern Sierra High Route
Steve C #41177 12/14/14 07:03 PM
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Cataract Creek Pass Write up and photos

MAP

Dumbbell Lakes Pass Writeup and photos

Here is a rough map location of Upper Basin Crossing

I have crossed Dumbbell Lakes Pass 4 times and Cataract Creek Pass once.

The Dumbbell Lakes area and Lake Basin are both gems. if you can spend the time getting through there certainly do so. I would actually recommend a bit more West on Palisade Creek taking what I have took to calling Adventurer Pass. It leads you into Lake 10,565 which is one of my favorite cross country areas. From here you can cross what I call Bear Pass or Observation Peak Pass. Both are class 2 and lead you into the Dumbbell Lakes area. If you take Observation Peak Pass it will take you within 500 feet of the summit so you can bag that as you go. Although you will cross 2 passes instead of one this route is easier in a technical sense.

Re: Southern Sierra High Route
Steve C #41178 12/14/14 07:05 PM
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This map from week 7 of my hike last year shows the saddles of Bear Pass and Dumbbell Lakes Pass:

MAP

Re: Southern Sierra High Route
Steve C #41179 12/14/14 07:14 PM
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The bottom section of this map shows the route you would take over Adventurer Pass to Lake 10,565.

Re: Southern Sierra High Route
RoguePhotonic #41182 12/15/14 05:41 PM
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RB: Thanks for the fantastic info. It looks like once over Cataract Pass into the Dumbbell Lakes basin, its fairly clear sailing to Lakes Basin and Cartridge Pass. This is on the definite maybe list for my John Muir route next summer.


Wherever you go, there you are.
SPOTMe!

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