Snow on passes
- I began my 10-day JMT trip last summer on July 22nd. As has already
been discussed, there was significant snowfall in the Sierra last
summer. I began to get worried about it in late winter and made some
choices regarding an ice axe, instep crampons and which trekking
poles to take.
I watched the Internet closely and found the information varied
widely. One very important aspect of reading posts on the Internet
is that you do not know the experience level of the person writing
the post. I found the PCT hikers to have the most accurate posts,
but immediately prior to my trip there was a very warm spell that
significantly reduced the snow, but subsequently increased the run-
If I were to do it again, I would not take the ice axe, crampons or
heavy duty trekking poles. I did use the ice axe three times (once
on Mather, to cross a small patch of ice; once on Glen to pass over
a patch of snow near the top; and once on Forester to cross the ice
on the southern gully). I could have made all three crossings
without the ice axe. I never used the instep crampons which I had
shipped in my resupply to MTR. I used the trekking poles constantly,
but I wish I had brought my lighter GG poles. I did find the ice axe
useful for digging cat holes!
A departure of July 23rd should find similar but undoubtedly
different conditions based on the snowfall patterns and the spring
run-off. Personally, I would be more concerned with the stream
crossings than the snow. The most snow I encountered was on Muir
Pass and second was Donohue. I've been to both many times and often
with far more snow on them. They are no problem. I found high water
at Bear Creek which could be a dangerous crossing although someone
had rigged a rope across the crossing and it could be used as a hand
hold. Evolution was high but I crossed up river in the middle of the
meadow. Other relatively high river crossings were Mono Creek, South
Fork of the Kings, Wright and Wallace. Even though they were high, I
did not have any problem making any of the crossings, although I did
see less experienced hikers a little freaked out about the water.
I think a July 23rd trip would be perfect. There will be plenty of
water, lots of flowers and green meadows. You will likely find more
bugs. I used 100% DEET and had no problems. I brought along a head
net and never used it though I saw some people hiking in them.
Have a great hike.