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Snowshoe to Glacier Point.

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  • jmtorbust
    Hello everyone, I don t know if this is too off topic, if it is just let me know and I will remove it. My friend and I are planning a JMT in August 2014. We
    Message 1 of 7 , Nov 24, 2013
      Hello everyone,

      I don't know if this is too off topic, if it is just let me know and I will remove it.  My friend and I are planning a JMT in August 2014.  We are trying to think of interesting ways to train up and I read about a cool wintertime Yosemite trek that would allow us to gain more experience in the snow, even though our August JMT time frame is unlikely to require must snow skill.  I was curious if anyone here had done this trek or something similar.  I've tried to provide enough focus to allow for an easy response and I appreciate any contribution.

      We were fortunate to secure a reservation at the Ostrander Ski Hut for one night in January.  The ideal trip would be to hike from Badger Pass to Ostrander on day one.  Day two is Ostrander to Glacier Point Ski Hut.  Day three is Glacier Point back to Badger Pass.

      The catch is that neither of us have much experience in snowshoes.  The daily totals will be about 10 miles a day.  I recognize that it will get dark early in January and that we will have to keep a good pace.  My friend and I do have a good bit of experience backpacking in three season conditions.  10 miles a day does not usually bother us.  However, snowshoes will slow us down.  Does anyone have any experience with these trails while using snowshoes? 

      We have the proper gear lined up, and will be prepared should we need to bunker down overnight along the trail.  My question is really whether you think 10 miles a day for three days is a realistic goal?  We are not unreasonably committed to this itinerary and would rather plan a trip that we can enjoy over setting an inflexible goal. 

      I also recognize that there are weather variables that will impact the final trip and cannot be accurately predicted.  There may well be no snow, which would make for a very manageable and enjoyable two night trip.  There could also be a huge storm just before or a huge storm during and these will impact our ultimate plan when the information becomes available.

      I appreciate your experience and recommendations.

      -Rob
    • robert shattuck
      Rob, unless you plan on taking a different route to get to Glacier or Ostrander (from Badger Point) just give yourself a lot of timeûûif you start out well
      Message 2 of 7 , Nov 24, 2013
        Rob, 

        unless you plan on taking a different route to get to Glacier or Ostrander (from Badger Point)  just give yourself a lot of time––if you start out well before, say . . . 11 a.m., then getting to either GP or Ostrander shouldn't be a problem. 

        Since they plow/groom the main road all the way to GP, it's actually easy enough to basically walk it––snowshoes just make it a bit louder and perhaps a little more secure. 

        Again, unless you're taking a route I am not aware of (and I'm probably not)  and doing a lot of cross-country, getting to Ostrander is pretty much the same thing, where you are on the road for five or so miles, then you head of into the woods and slog on out to Ostrander. 

        I've tried to get to Ostrander twice on skis ( an old junk tele-mark set-up) and failed both times dues to getting on the trail too late. like after about noon. 

        If you're an efficient XC-skier and can "skate" well, or just ski the groove, and you've maybe got scales on your skis, then you can rock it. I've always tried it with the telemark skis and skins, which meant, I'd skin a ways, then either spend the time to take them off, or go really worthlessly, slow on the "downhills" with the skins on. 

        this last year, about May, I went for it again (with the same guy "mr. late") and we didn't get started until noon or so, got all the way out to the junction to go off the road and the snow, even off the groomed road was hard as ice and it was either try to  slog along with the skins on or off––we got to maybe within two miles of Ostrander before all my falling and swearing got the better of me and we just set up camp and had a lovely night, regardless . . . 

        The first time I did it we had grand plans but ended up camping about half-way to GP ( we gave up the idea of Ostrander) where the bathrooms and the meadow are (we camped off the left side of the road) and next day, with light loads we made it up to Ostrander for lunch and then a turn around to camp. Spent another night and went out in the morning––three days. 


        Again, early start on snowshoes and you should be good for either spot if you give yourself three days. Remember though that if you go out to GP, you can't camp right there––I woulda liked to stay at the lookout spot where we had lunch (in the vid) . . . but if you go up to Ostrander, you can camp nearby, without being bothered . . . of course you can spend the bucks and make the reservations and stay in at either spot . . . just more fun to sleep in the snow. 



        BOB SHATTUCK
        http://www.summitpost.org/plans/view_activity.php?post_id=6480



      • robert shattuck
        Rob, I didn t comment on the ease of using snowshoesûûnot much too them reallyûûif you can walk, you can snowshoe, sort of. If the snow is packed, solid,
        Message 3 of 7 , Nov 24, 2013

          Rob, 

           I didn't comment on the ease of using snowshoes––not much too them really––if you can walk, you can snowshoe, sort of. If the snow is packed, solid, and icy, you'll just a good noisy work-out , but if it's fluffy powder, you'll be using your lungs a little more. 

          Obviously, if you get into some major vertical terrain on snowshoes, going up isn't much of a problem, as they have those lovely built-in crampons, but going down, but might require as much technique as . . . taking them off. 

          I will refer and defer to the great Ned Tibbits, for all further snow-shoeing advice, but in general, I think you'll be fine if you just know how to walk. 

          again, my bet is that if you are out on the GP road, it'll just be a noisy, but easy shuffle. 


          BOB
          http://www.summitpost.org/plans/view_activity.php?post_id=6480




        • jmtorbust
          Thank you! I have used snowshoes once and generally found it to be walking...on snowshoes. :) But as I have mentioned my plans to a couple friends with more
          Message 4 of 7 , Nov 24, 2013

            Thank you!  I have used snowshoes once and generally found it to be walking...on snowshoes. :)  But as I have mentioned my plans to a couple friends with more experience, they have left an impression that ten miles in snowshoes is quite an endeavor. 


            We will make an early start.  We live in the Bay Area and are still deciding whether to spend a night in the Sierra to make transit easier, that would also make for an early start.  I am also partial because we will likely have to put on chains and that will eat up valuable time.  However, we may make a very early start from the Bay and try to haul it out there.  I appreciate your experience with the skis, I've never been on skis.  We will follow trail via GPR.  The park service says that that route provides minimal avalanche danger (unlike the Bridalveil Creek Trail).  We would prefer to avoid an avalanche (although I did see a very cool and extremely foolish video of a guy starting avalanches at a lake in Patagonia).  We will bring shelter and food should we need to bunker down for the night short of either of the huts.  


            As for snowpack, I can't really say what the conditions will be.  Early January is anyone's guess at this point.  I know there are years where its a winter wonderland and years where it its pretty dry.  The long range forecast for Tahoe suggests there may be a couple of good storms in mid December so here is hoping for some snow further south.  My friend and I are in grad school and January - early February will be the easiest for us to take a few days away from the books.  We have a reservation for January 9 from the lottery, we may be able to alter it depending on availability.  I also keep in the back of my mind that given the typical Sierra Cement, the snowshoes may just prove extra weight. 


            I'm really excited about it, I've never stayed in a backpacking type hut before.  I look forward to meeting some cool people and have heard positive things about the hut-keepers for Ostrander.  I'm also excited to see Yosemite in the winter.  When I need a break from studying, I look for youtube videos about the JMT and Glacier Point in the winter.  I think I have probably watched almost every video about the trail at this point, I can't wait to get out there myself.  One of my favorites are a series of videos made by John Dittli where he skates on a few of the lakes when there frozen.  I haven't been to Yosemite since I was young and its been winking at me far to suggestively :)


            -Rob





            ---In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <bobolonius@...> wrote:


            Rob, 

             I didn't comment on the ease of using snowshoes––not much too them really––if you can walk, you can snowshoe, sort of. If the snow is packed, solid, and icy, you'll just a good noisy work-out , but if it's fluffy powder, you'll be using your lungs a little more. 

            Obviously, if you get into some major vertical terrain on snowshoes, going up isn't much of a problem, as they have those lovely built-in crampons, but going down, but might require as much technique as . . . taking them off. 

            I will refer and defer to the great Ned Tibbits, for all further snow-shoeing advice, but in general, I think you'll be fine if you just know how to walk. 

            again, my bet is that if you are out on the GP road, it'll just be a noisy, but easy shuffle. 


            BOB
            http://www.summitpost.org/plans/view_activity.php?post_id=6480




          • jmtorbust
            I forgot to mention, I didn t have a chance to watch more than a few seconds of your video. But I look forward to enjoying it when I hit the sack tonight. I
            Message 5 of 7 , Nov 24, 2013
              I forgot to mention, I didn't have a chance to watch more than a few seconds of your video.  But I look forward to enjoying it when I hit the sack tonight.  I think I may have actually seen it already in my crazed late-night youtube marathons :)

              -Rob

               



              ---In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <jmtorbust@...> wrote:

              Thank you!  I have used snowshoes once and generally found it to be walking...on snowshoes. :)  But as I have mentioned my plans to a couple friends with more experience, they have left an impression that ten miles in snowshoes is quite an endeavor. 


              We will make an early start.  We live in the Bay Area and are still deciding whether to spend a night in the Sierra to make transit easier, that would also make for an early start.  I am also partial because we will likely have to put on chains and that will eat up valuable time.  However, we may make a very early start from the Bay and try to haul it out there.  I appreciate your experience with the skis, I've never been on skis.  We will follow trail via GPR.  The park service says that that route provides minimal avalanche danger (unlike the Bridalveil Creek Trail).  We would prefer to avoid an avalanche (although I did see a very cool and extremely foolish video of a guy starting avalanches at a lake in Patagonia).  We will bring shelter and food should we need to bunker down for the night short of either of the huts.  


              As for snowpack, I can't really say what the conditions will be.  Early January is anyone's guess at this point.  I know there are years where its a winter wonderland and years where it its pretty dry.  The long range forecast for Tahoe suggests there may be a couple of good storms in mid December so here is hoping for some snow further south.  My friend and I are in grad school and January - early February will be the easiest for us to take a few days away from the books.  We have a reservation for January 9 from the lottery, we may be able to alter it depending on availability.  I also keep in the back of my mind that given the typical Sierra Cement, the snowshoes may just prove extra weight. 


              I'm really excited about it, I've never stayed in a backpacking type hut before.  I look forward to meeting some cool people and have heard positive things about the hut-keepers for Ostrander.  I'm also excited to see Yosemite in the winter.  When I need a break from studying, I look for youtube videos about the JMT and Glacier Point in the winter.  I think I have probably watched almost every video about the trail at this point, I can't wait to get out there myself.  One of my favorites are a series of videos made by John Dittli where he skates on a few of the lakes when there frozen.  I haven't been to Yosemite since I was young and its been winking at me far to suggestively :)


              -Rob





              ---In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <bobolonius@...> wrote:


              Rob, 

               I didn't comment on the ease of using snowshoes––not much too them really––if you can walk, you can snowshoe, sort of. If the snow is packed, solid, and icy, you'll just a good noisy work-out , but if it's fluffy powder, you'll be using your lungs a little more. 

              Obviously, if you get into some major vertical terrain on snowshoes, going up isn't much of a problem, as they have those lovely built-in crampons, but going down, but might require as much technique as . . . taking them off. 

              I will refer and defer to the great Ned Tibbits, for all further snow-shoeing advice, but in general, I think you'll be fine if you just know how to walk. 

              again, my bet is that if you are out on the GP road, it'll just be a noisy, but easy shuffle. 


              BOB
              http://www.summitpost.org/plans/view_activity.php?post_id=6480




            • nedtibbits
              Thanks, Bob, for the mention! jmtorbust: Mountain Education has spent the last 32 years skills-training year-round backpackers on how to improve their safety
              Message 6 of 7 , Nov 25, 2013
                Thanks, Bob, for the mention!
                 
                jmtorbust:
                 
                Mountain Education has spent the last 32 years skills-training year-round backpackers on how to improve their safety and mountain wisdom when in the backcountry. We specialize in emergency medical issues, dealing with snow, and thru-hiking.
                 
                Go to our website, www.mountaineducation.org or our Facebook page, Mountain Education, or even my Facebook page, Ned Tibbits, to see plenty of pictures and read the attached advice about safe and wise snow travel!
                 
                 
                Ned Tibbits, Director
                Mountain Education
                www.mountaineducation.org
                 
                Sent: Sunday, November 24, 2013 5:59 PM
                Subject: RE: [John Muir Trail] Snowshoe to Glacier Point.
                 
                 


                Rob, 
                 
                I didn't comment on the ease of using snowshoes––not much too them really––if you can walk, you can snowshoe, sort of. If the snow is packed, solid, and icy, you'll just a good noisy work-out , but if it's fluffy powder, you'll be using your lungs a little more.
                 
                Obviously, if you get into some major vertical terrain on snowshoes, going up isn't much of a problem, as they have those lovely built-in crampons, but going down, but might require as much technique as . . . taking them off.
                 
                I will refer and defer to the great Ned Tibbits, for all further snow-shoeing advice, but in general, I think you'll be fine if you just know how to walk.
                 
                again, my bet is that if you are out on the GP road, it'll just be a noisy, but easy shuffle.
                 
                 
                BOB
                http://www.summitpost.org/plans/view_activity.php?post_id=6480




              • John Ladd
                I ve done a snowshoe trip from Badger Pass to Glacier Point and to Ostrander, each sucessfully once, plus one unsucessful attempt to Ostrander. All were solo
                Message 7 of 7 , Nov 25, 2013
                  I've done a snowshoe trip from Badger Pass to Glacier Point and to Ostrander, each sucessfully once, plus one unsucessful attempt to Ostrander. All were solo and I had gear to camp out on all trips, so the load was heavy.

                  Bob Shattuck and I have snowshoe backpacked together (to Ludlow Hut) and he's a somewhat stronger hiker than I but we're not all that different. I'm typically a 10 to 12 mile per day hiker in Sierra summer conditions.  I agree with his comments but thought I'd add my experience with trips out of Badger pass.


                  Badger Pas to Glacier Point 

                  This was was my first ever snowshoe backpack trip. I was 64 and in OK physical shape. I started late (as planned) and camped about 3 miles in. I hoped to make it to Glacier Point on a full day 2, but ran out of steam maybe 2/3 of the way there and camped just off GP Road. On day 3 I did a light-pack dayhike to GP and spent maybe 3 hours enjoying the view and the solitude. I returned to the same campsite for night 3. I hiked out fairly easily on day 4.

                  If I were to do this trip again, I'd probably plan to start earlier, hike halfway or a bit more to GP on day one, get to the point and spend night 2 there and hike out in one day. I'd try to avoid the days that organized parties of skiers go out to overnight the point visitor center, as they can make it feel crowded out there. If you go on days without the organized parties of XC skiers overnighting in the visitor center, you have the place to yourself, except for a few people mid-day 


                  will give you the days when GP can be crowded

                  There are certainly people who could do the 10.5 miles to GP in one day, particularly if there was no fresh snow involved. Much of the time when on GP road my snowshoes were strapped to my pack and I was boot walking the packed groomed area set aside for walkers and snowshoes (you need to avoid the XC ski tracks). I'd guess that there's probably in the vicinity of 1000 - 1200 feet of elevation gain over several up and down segments. 

                  Badger Pass to Ostrander

                  I did a Google map of my two trips to Ostrander at the following link (unsucessful in 2011, sucessful in 2012)


                  That map includes a fair amount of narration so I won't repeat it here, beyond saying that in 2012 I took 2 days inbound via Bridalveil Creek route and one day outbound via Horizon Ridge.

                  If I were to go to Ostrander again I'd probably NOT plan on camping in either the inbound or the outbound direction and probably would not take a shelter beyond an emergency bivy. I'd just decide that I would make the trip in the one day and keep walking even if it got dark. In both directions, you could navigate in the dark even without a moon. Headed toward Ostrander there are reflectors in the trees which catch a headlamp well and on the way out you are just following the road. So worst case scenario is you just keep hiking/snowshoing in the dark using the headlamp to see the reflectors.

                  Horizon Ridge is easier than the Bridalveil creek route and better marked.

                  Your planned route

                  On the 3-day plan you describe, the hardest day would probably be the Ostrander to GP day. You might have a better time of it if you planned to camp 2 nights (night 2 and 3) along GP Road and light-pack dayhike to GP on Day 3. Or do it as you plan, and just realize you might have to move to a "Plan B" by stopping a bit short of Glacier Point. Your inbound day to Ostrander and your outbound day returning to the car should be fine, especially since both can be done with headlamps if you are slower than expected. But your planned middle day could be pretty hard.

                  The 3 most likely challenges would be (1) fresh snow making the snowshoing harder, especially if it is a wet, heavy snow or fluffy but deep, (2) cold or freezing rain like that I encountered my first unsuccessful attempt at Ostrander or (3) whiteout conditions bad enough that you couldn't see the blazes marking the Horizon Ridge Trail. Hopefully, the weather reports/forecasts just as you are leaving will let you know whether any of these are at all likely.  

                  I also recommend Ned Tibbits snow course, which I have taken twice (beginner level both times). He teaches you a lot in the 2 days. Read the stuff he has posted online if you can't attend his course.

                  Be careful when you draw water. I slipped partway into Bridalveil Creek drawing water on my first trip. I was OK and was able to keep warm despite some wetting of my main top-half insulation layer, but if I had slipped in any deeper, I could have been at some risk. As it was, it was uncomfortable



                  John Curran Ladd
                  1616 Castro Street
                  San Francisco, CA  94114-3707
                  415-648-9279


                  On Sun, Nov 24, 2013 at 5:06 PM, <jmtorbust@...> wrote:
                   

                  Hello everyone,

                  I don't know if this is too off topic, if it is just let me know and I will remove it.  My friend and I are planning a JMT in August 2014.  We are trying to think of interesting ways to train up and I read about a cool wintertime Yosemite trek that would allow us to gain more experience in the snow, even though our August JMT time frame is unlikely to require must snow skill.  I was curious if anyone here had done this trek or something similar.  I've tried to provide enough focus to allow for an easy response and I appreciate any contribution.

                  We were fortunate to secure a reservation at the Ostrander Ski Hut for one night in January.  The ideal trip would be to hike from Badger Pass to Ostrander on day one.  Day two is Ostrander to Glacier Point Ski Hut.  Day three is Glacier Point back to Badger Pass.

                  The catch is that neither of us have much experience in snowshoes.  The daily totals will be about 10 miles a day.  I recognize that it will get dark early in January and that we will have to keep a good pace.  My friend and I do have a good bit of experience backpacking in three season conditions.  10 miles a day does not usually bother us.  However, snowshoes will slow us down.  Does anyone have any experience with these trails while using snowshoes? 

                  We have the proper gear lined up, and will be prepared should we need to bunker down overnight along the trail.  My question is really whether you think 10 miles a day for three days is a realistic goal?  We are not unreasonably committed to this itinerary and would rather plan a trip that we can enjoy over setting an inflexible goal. 

                  I also recognize that there are weather variables that will impact the final trip and cannot be accurately predicted.  There may well be no snow, which would make for a very manageable and enjoyable two night trip.  There could also be a huge storm just before or a huge storm during and these will impact our ultimate plan when the information becomes available.

                  I appreciate your experience and recommendations.

                  -Rob


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