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#54778 - 03/11/19 12:15 PM Crabtree pass - how hard is it really?
Mike from OC Offline


Registered: 03/11/19
Posts: 2
Loc: CA
I'm going to be doing Kearsarge to Horseshoe this summer and was looking at taking the Crabtree pass route SOBO towards SkyBlue lake then exiting via Army.

I've read competing posts about this route and some call it "an easy class2" and another mentioned they did multiple class3's going NOBO on the way to the pass and was turned back by it - implying that it was class3++. Another post suggested that Forester pass was more technical than Crabtree.

I'm going to be solo and would consider myself cautious when in the back country alone. I'm not a rock climber, but have done Whitney in early May 2x (via MR and the chute, but with others) and have plenty of back country experience solo (on non-technical routes). I've done a few hikes with easy class3's mixed in, but with others. Also for reference, last summer I did the ~class2+ scramble from Iceberg to Cecile (in the Minarets)and that is about as much as I would like to do solo.

If I was with someone, I would do a easy class3, but solo, I prefer to minimize risk and not have to chop off my own arm if something goes wrong smile.

Any advice, comments, etc., would be greatly appreciated.

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#54780 - 03/11/19 01:35 PM Re: Crabtree pass - how hard is it really? [Re: Mike from OC]
pcieluch Offline


Registered: 08/29/16
Posts: 54
Loc: duluth,mn
Done SOBO over Forrester twice in August. Nothing technical at all. Of course if you have a fear of heights the stretch past the chute to the first switchback can be a tad scary as the cliff drops of on your right a few thousand feet. The first time I did it a spent hours looking at the many pictures online. I was amazed at how wide the trail really is. For me I would be a tad uneasy if I met a horse train going up when I was going down the first section after the top. Look in the trip report section, I think there's one with some really good picture.

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#54783 - 03/12/19 01:00 AM Re: Crabtree pass - how hard is it really? [Re: Mike from OC]
Jonathan C Offline


Registered: 03/03/19
Posts: 19
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Never been through that back area, but from what I've read if you're not trying to go up Discovery Pinnacle then it doesn't seem too bad. Pretty good trip report and pics here:

http://www.highsierratopix.com/community/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=16976

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#54784 - 03/12/19 08:39 AM Re: Crabtree pass - how hard is it really? [Re: Mike from OC]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7742
Loc: Fresno, CA
Psychokid, who posted the report on HST is a member here. Maybe he'll weigh in on your questions. I didn't think Discovery was anything to worry about. Actually the short section between the Whitney Main Trail and the ridge is pretty steep and tough to find anyplace to get a grip. But it's short, and you will find a way.

If you have done the Whitney MR, then you can do Crabtree Pass. The west side of Crabtree is probably the toughest, and it isn't as steep as the final 400 on Whitney.

I saw a report where the snow on the slope just above the upper Crabtree Lake caused hikers doing a traverse to have to climb above it, since a slip would have dropped them into the lake. So when going down, you might want to angle to the upper (NE) end of the lake. When you go down that slope (easy scree), try not to mess up any of the use trails -- they are tough climbing.

When I climbed from Sky-Blue to Crabtree, I veered west, and wandered around a bit, crossing the part between the two lakes, but I think you can stay to the east side of both lakes.

Below Sky-Blue, it's a walk in the park.

I dropped from upper Soldier Lk to the lower, and then climbed to the ridge, because I couldn't see a route around the nose of Major General, but I learned after the hike that it goes pretty easily.

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#54785 - 03/12/19 04:06 PM Re: Crabtree pass - how hard is it really? [Re: Mike from OC]
psykokid Offline


Registered: 07/28/15
Posts: 58
Loc: Pasadena, CA
Coming up the east side of Crabtree was easy peasy. Nothing more than class 2, at the worst. When we were up there we went around the cirque and up to Discovery Pinnacle so I cant comment on the west side of Crabtree Pass. The view from the top down didn't look difficult, just appeared to require the usual care in picking your route. If you've done the MR on Whitney, and were comfortable doing it, I don't think that you'd have any problem tackling Crabtree Pass coming from the west side. From my experience the MR looked a lot steeper than Crabtree from the top.

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#54787 - 03/13/19 04:48 AM Re: Crabtree pass - how hard is it really? [Re: Mike from OC]
Stiltner Offline


Registered: 03/12/19
Posts: 1
Loc: Raleigh, NC
I dunno, Crabtree pass is still quite intimidating to me. I guess some of you fellas are just more experienced than me.

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#54790 - 03/13/19 01:05 PM Re: Crabtree pass - how hard is it really? [Re: Mike from OC]
Mike from OC Offline


Registered: 03/11/19
Posts: 2
Loc: CA
I don't mind doing easy class3, but not too hot on that when solo and have a heavy pack on my back. I saw the post Steve C spoke about and that seemed more dangerous than the pass itself. Since this is a big snow year, there will probably be a lot of snow up there, even in Sept.

I have to say again that I'm extra conservative when solo, so I think I'm going to take a look, and if it doesn't look like my day, I will walk back and around on PCT towards Army, maybe poking in from the south side and catch sky blue that way.

From what I've heard and read, sky blue is worth the trek.

Appreciate the help guys!

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#54792 - 03/13/19 02:36 PM Re: Crabtree pass - how hard is it really? [Re: Mike from OC]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7742
Loc: Fresno, CA
Mike!! I don't know what people wrote here that scared you off, but it just isn't as difficult as the MR. From the lake to the pass is less than 400' vertical. If you have been up and down the MR, this isn't that bad.

And understand, if you are looking at a mountain route from a distance, the vertical stuff looks crazy ominous from a distance. Have you seen pictures of the MR? And once you get there, it is just a matter of putting next foot ahead of the last.

If you do bail, at least drop into the Crabtree basin from Discovery. It's a nice descent. I lost the trail a few places, but it was a pretty walk down to where it almost joins the PCT.

Here's a Caltopo link showing the route.

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