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Snow on passes

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  • Dave
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 6, 2006
      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-
      off.

      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.
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