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#48495 - 09/29/16 03:04 PM Who's done SkyBlue Lake to Guitar Lake in 1 day?
zorobabel Offline


Registered: 09/29/16
Posts: 3
Loc: Orange County
I'm wondering whether SkyBlue Lake to Guitar Lake in 1 day via Crabtree Pass and Whitney is doable...
If you've done at least part of it, please chime in.

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#48497 - 09/29/16 10:39 PM Re: Who's done SkyBlue Lake to Guitar Lake in 1 day? [Re: zorobabel]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7739
Loc: Fresno, CA
Day 3 of my yet unwritten trip report:

This summer, I camped on the north side of Sky Blue Lake, after a very long day where I went from Cottonwood Lake 6 (northern most) to Langley Summit, to lower Soldier Lk, then to Sky Blue. Lost my cookies after dinner due to altitude and exhaustion. But it was a fine camp -- gravelly surface for my pad, and a flat hunk of wood for a seat, and flat rocks for my tiny Esbit Wing stove. Right at these cross-hairs I think. It's pretty amazing to find such a well-beaten use-trail in such a remote place.

Rested well by Sky Blue. Next morning, I climbed northwest, then westward to avoid the steep approach leading to the next big lake. Reached the lake west of Sky Blue, then crossed over heading northeast, curving around to Crabtree Pass. Dropped down to the uppermost Crabtree Lk and continued on the north side down to the next Crabtree Lk. Walked along its sandy beach, took a quick swim, and ate lunch there.

I had some fun trying to find and follow the very old (unmaintained) trail from mid-Crabtree down. Lost it a few times, especially just below lower Crabtree Lk. But succeeded in following it all the way down to the point where it doubles back across the upper Crabtree Meadow. I continued west there as I wanted to head down Whitney Creek to an old horse-packer camp. I crossed the PCT well into the afternoon (maybe about 3 pm)

I probably could have made it to Guitar Lk, but then would have had trouble with dinner again. mad But I'm old -- I've got 4 grandkids if that gives you an idea. If my previous day hadn't been so long, and I had planned on it, gotten an early start, yes, Guitar Lk would have been possible.


I had an interesting encounter that day: As I was wandering westward above Sky Blue, another lone hiker came along. He said he was "looking for a ridge" that a friend had described to him, where he could easily head back toward Rock Creek (or Soldier Lake, I'm not sure). Every so often he would pull out his iPhone and look at it -- some map app I guess. Said his friend had given him a gps track.
...Well, by anything I can read of the maps in that area, he was just plain lost! There are no ridges to follow to the south. Everything is steep and rugged, and the ridges branch east and west -- nothing smooth enough to be anywhere near "easy"! I'm sure he made it out, but probably back down the Rock Creek valley.

Another interesting encounter: A water filter and underwear hung out to dry by the creek below Sky Blue. But not a sign of a tent or anyone around. Odd, at least.

My camp by Sky Blue Lake


Sky Blue Lake the next morning. This picture makes it look much smaller than it is.

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#48501 - 09/30/16 08:15 AM Re: Who's done SkyBlue Lake to Guitar Lake in 1 day? [Re: Steve C]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 1023
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
No problem to do that, even at my slow 65 yo pace and gimpy knee

in 2015 we camped at SBL. There are about 4-5 tent sites on the south rock wall overlooking the lake and two sites on the north shore, where we camped. Both are just off the trail and very easy to miss. Many people camp below SBL in a stand of trees not on the water and of course further south and lower and longer for the day you propose. If you stay there you are adding 30 min or so.

Once over the pass, there are three main lakes: #1 at foot of Crabtree Pass, #2 has a beach, #3 has outlet off to the right leading down to Crabtree Meadows. Following the drainage down, look for a horse tie-up area and find the old trail that saves you time and distance by not going straight over to PCT but angles through the woods toward the Ranger station and JMT.


times:
710am left SBL -over Crabtree pass and arrived overlooking the lake with the beach at 300 pm. We camped in a very skimpy never-used-before-make-do sparse site between lakes #2 and #3 far off the trail.

next day 710am to 125pm second set of tarns above Guitar.

way too much time boring time in camp. if you add up those ACTUAL hiking times over the 2 days it is 14'05". Sure, it can be done in one day.

we saved a bit of time after using the old horse trail toward the PCT by cutting across Crabtree Meadow off trail and arriving near the Ranger Hut and JMT. But going up to second set of tarns above Guitar added 20 min. So all -in- all you could do it in under 14 hrs with more normal hiking speed than mine.

I had done the route before, so if this is your first time, you will need some route finding and awe-time time added in.

I should add that we saw a Scout troop go in one day from below SBL over Crabtree over Discovery Pinnacle(not your route) to Whitney and return all in one day. Amazing .

see trip report from 2014 and maps (times listed above were 2015 trip without side trip to Langley and camping at SBL as you plan to do)
http://www.whitneyzone.com/wz/ubbthreads...d_nor#Post39834





Edited by Harvey Lankford (09/30/16 08:21 AM)

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#48503 - 09/30/16 10:00 AM Re: Who's done SkyBlue Lake to Guitar Lake in 1 day? [Re: Harvey Lankford]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7739
Loc: Fresno, CA
Harvey, I obviously didn't do enough research before heading out on my trip this summer. I see your route heading north from upper Soldier Lake in this picture:

                 

I descended to the upper Soldier Lk, and took a break by the lake. I then headed north, but had an "Oh crap" moment when I viewed the granite cliffs that appeared to the north. I ended up bushwhacking all the way down to lower Soldier, and then climbing that ridte to the west (found an obviously well-used path climbing from the northwest shore).

Apparently I got too low, and didn't realize that if I had only climbed some northward from upper Soldier, that I would have found a nice route. I told a friend of my route problems here at home, and he too told me there is a good route there.

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#48504 - 09/30/16 11:00 AM Re: Who's done SkyBlue Lake to Guitar Lake in 1 day? [Re: Steve C]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 1023
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Originally Posted By: Steve C
Apparently I got too low, and didn't realize that if I had only climbed some northward from upper Soldier, that I would have found a nice route. I told a friend of my route problems here at home, and he too told me there is a good route there.


ahh, Steve, great little tarn and campsite north-ish above the upper Soldier Lake on the shoulder of Major General. Tremendous view of Miter Basin

I have no idea how that IT garbage showed up after I posted the picture, so here is the picture again:



I have no idea how that IT garbage showed up after I posted the picture, so here is the picture again:


Edited by Harvey Lankford (10/01/16 03:43 PM)

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#48505 - 09/30/16 11:42 AM Re: Who's done SkyBlue Lake to Guitar Lake in 1 day? [Re: Harvey Lankford]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7739
Loc: Fresno, CA
Doh!!! mad

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#48506 - 09/30/16 11:43 AM Re: Who's done SkyBlue Lake to Guitar Lake in 1 day? [Re: Harvey Lankford]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 1023
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
lake above SBL has a tricky area

view from above



red line shows our 2014 route following cairns. Drop off and 6 ft manuever down corner not seen around the boulders. Green line is safer but not obvious as you approach going north from SBL to this next lake



in 2015, we took the same dicey route. Casey smashed his camera scrambling down the dropoff. Could have been his leg or head. It is much more of a dropoff than it looks in this picture. This picture from north looking back to the boulder cliff shows a better route. Notice you can even see a path where the green line coming down stops. NONE of this is visible as you approach from the south .

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#48512 - 10/01/16 03:12 PM Re: Who's done SkyBlue Lake to Guitar Lake in 1 day? [Re: zorobabel]
bluewater Offline


Registered: 05/02/12
Posts: 12
Loc: Ca
I am a long time lurker but I check in here a lot and just noticed your post. Many thanks to the Whitney Zone community for all of the information, updates and entertaining trip reports.

Like others have said it's definitely do-able.

I did a similar route last weekend, except I went to Upper Boy Scout Lake instead of Guitar Lake, and went the opposite direction. Here's a map of my route:

[img:left][/img]

I'm not sure if it is appropriate to add a link but it may be easier than posting the whole thing; If you are interested I did a trip report with route details, photos, gear list and maps here:

http://seatosummitultralight.blogspot.com/2016/09/mt-whitney-mt-langley-weekend-september.html

Thanks again WhitneyZone thanks

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#48513 - 10/01/16 03:53 PM Re: Who's done SkyBlue Lake to Guitar Lake in 1 day? [Re: bluewater]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 1023
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
What a great report. Thanks.

Wish I could get my pack weight down that low!

The Scouts that we saw coming down Sandhill from Discovery Pinnacle (after tagging Whitney) were laughing with glee at what they had pulled off on their long day. That is what all those daylight hours are for.

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#48514 - 10/01/16 08:48 PM Re: Who's done SkyBlue Lake to Guitar Lake in 1 day? [Re: Harvey Lankford]
bluewater Offline


Registered: 05/02/12
Posts: 12
Loc: Ca
Thanks Harvey!

Scree-skiing down the Sandhill was definitely a fun part of that route. . .


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#48515 - 10/01/16 11:57 PM Re: Who's done SkyBlue Lake to Guitar Lake in 1 day? [Re: bluewater]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7739
Loc: Fresno, CA
And I've only climbed UP that sand hill! I can imagine going down could be a Sierra classic. crazy

Hats off to you, Andy. Sky Blue to Horseshoe Meadows in a day, and tagging Langley to boot! Wow!

Shoot, if I were to ever try that, I think I'd shortcut up Major General on the way to Langley. smile On my trip, I had planned to maybe descend that way, but didn't read Secor's description (it's Class 2) until after I got home.

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#48516 - 10/02/16 08:09 PM Re: Who's done SkyBlue Lake to Guitar Lake in 1 day? [Re: Steve C]
bluewater Offline


Registered: 05/02/12
Posts: 12
Loc: Ca
Thanks Steve!

I've wondered about a possible shortcut up one of those chutes near the Major General but never checked Secor. Maybe it's not such a good 'shortcut'. . .

I really enjoyed your post about the shortcut up Whitney Creek from the Kern. Someday I would like to give that a try.

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#48517 - 10/02/16 09:37 PM Re: Who's done SkyBlue Lake to Guitar Lake in 1 day? [Re: bluewater]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7739
Loc: Fresno, CA
bluewater, I hiked down Whitney Creek this summer to the "low granite knob" from my overnight spot at the packer camp, but once I got there and looked across the Kern River valley, I saw too many tree tops and not much else.

It's definitely a steep sucker. I was considering descending and trying several more routes to see if I might find an easier way up, but looking at how much steeper it was going down, time was running out on my day -- I still needed to get up to Wallace Lake. That turned out to be a major Big Day for me. I should have just packed up and left the Packer Camp. I then might have had time to catch a fish from Wallace Lake. They weren't biting when it was nearly dark.

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#48522 - 10/03/16 12:08 PM Re: Who's done SkyBlue Lake to Guitar Lake in 1 day? [Re: Steve C]
bluewater Offline


Registered: 05/02/12
Posts: 12
Loc: Ca
Too bad you didn't make it to Wallace Lake, the fishing looked good at the outlet last time I was there smile


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#48529 - 10/03/16 09:42 PM Re: Who's done SkyBlue Lake to Guitar Lake in 1 day? [Re: bluewater]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7739
Loc: Fresno, CA
Well, I made it to Wallace Lake. But it was nearly dark by the time I had my camp set up. I ate my dinner by headlamp. I tried fishing, but it was so late that there was no way I would even try to fix one to eat ...IF I had even caught one. smile

I exited next day over Russell-Carillon Pass above Tulainyo Lake. That was a beautiful area.

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