Snow trekking options- Southern Sierras:

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Contractor

Boulder climber
CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Mar 5, 2018 - 01:30pm PT
I plan on climbing Swiss Arete this summer to familiarize myself with the Palisades.
I have zero snow and glacier skills, so getting on a moderate snow route, easy coulior and snow trekking to gain some basic experience would be great. I'd like, at least some rock to be involved if possible. Unfortunately, Most places are inaccessible right now and I refuse to go anywhere near L.A.

I'd like to camp somewhere on the east side where I can access a route or a nice loop. I have a four-wheel drive truck with a camper and I don't mind long approaches.

Any ideas, lame comments or declarations of my impending death would be much appreciated.


Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Mar 5, 2018 - 01:44pm PT
I refuse to go anywhere near L.A.

The snow on Baldy is different? Lotta people have learned to self-arrest there.
There may not be enough there to do so but you can finger that out.
Bargainhunter

climber
Mar 5, 2018 - 01:49pm PT
Depending on when you do the Swiss Arrete, descending the from the summit ridge down the 4th class to the snow couloir can lead to steep hard snow. I'd definitely have good self arrest skills in place before this. Easy to slip and slide in rock shoes...
Contractor

Boulder climber
CA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 5, 2018 - 06:22pm PT
snow on Baldy is different?
I suppose not but the two legged things on the snow wearing gold puffies is what I'd like to avoid. Nonetheless, if that's my best option, thanks for the suggestion.
ruppell

climber
Mar 5, 2018 - 06:38pm PT
Split Mountain

Low trailhead that's gonna be snow free. Lots of elevation gain in 5 miles to Red Lake. Easy 4th class section to the north ridge which is a walk up. It gives you a great view of the Palisades and no one will be there.
Contractor

Boulder climber
CA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 5, 2018 - 06:43pm PT
Oh yeah, that's what I'm talking about! Thank you!
StahlBro

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Mar 5, 2018 - 06:44pm PT
Based on what you described, why not practice on U Notch?
Contractor

Boulder climber
CA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 5, 2018 - 06:50pm PT
I've got new shinny gear and am itching to get out. I'd guess I can't get up there yet?
StahlBro

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Mar 5, 2018 - 06:59pm PT
Not sure about current conditions, but between now and summer there should be a good window. Enjoy!
DonC

climber
CA
Mar 5, 2018 - 07:23pm PT
are you in southern California?

take the tram up to Long Valley on San Jacinto. Hike, ski or snowshoe toward the summit - About 11 mi round trip. Lots of open slopes with almost no people to practice snow and self arrest skills.

When you are real confident jump off the summit down the north face (just kidding of course). If you have good skills you'll stop in a few seconds and have a few minute hike back to the summit. If not, you'll have a quick trip down to Palm Springs!

I was on RMRU for a number of years in mid 70's to mid 80's. We got a call on a rescue where a guy was near the top of the north face, leaned over to adjust a crampon and fell backwards. He went 1000's of feet until the snow got soft enough to stop. I got a fun ride and exciting jump out of a hovering helicopter into the north face chute. He had no major injuries but badly shredded clothes and skin - snow crystals just tore him up.

Don't mess around with even the simplest spring snow slopes unless you know what you are doing. You get moving fast very quickly.
Contractor

Boulder climber
CA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 5, 2018 - 07:36pm PT
I read an article about that terrible fall and Rescue. I believe it was John Vaughter's father-in-law, and John Vaughter wrote the article.

Anyway, that's great advice and close to San Diego. I'll probably do that soon and Split Mountain in a month or so.
DonC

climber
CA
Mar 5, 2018 - 07:57pm PT
I could find my old notes, but if recall he was a physics prof at UC San Diego
Kalimon

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
Mar 5, 2018 - 08:28pm PT
I'd guess I can't get up there yet?

You can get up there whenever you want . . . just be prepared for the existing conditions.
Gary

Social climber
Desolation Basin, Calif.
Mar 5, 2018 - 08:41pm PT
Zero snow skills? Yer gonna die. Really, you shouldn't touch an axe if you don't know how to use. Tear into your femoral artery and you're a goner.

You don't know anyone who knows how to climb snow? There's tricks to it. It's more important to know how to self-belay than how to arrest. If you don't have a friend, hire a guide. Take a course in the Cascades.

Or bribe Reilly with expensive wine.
Contractor

Boulder climber
CA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 5, 2018 - 08:52pm PT
I could tell Reilly where my body will be. I'll leave a case of wine for him with my wife, she'll want to collect on my life insurance.
Climbnrok

Trad climber
LA
Mar 8, 2018 - 12:17am PT
How is Baldy snow right now? Anyone been up there since last weekend?
kunlun_shan

Mountain climber
SF, CA
Mar 8, 2018 - 12:58am PT
Go to Independence on the eastside and west up the Onion Valley road. Am not sure how far the road is open now, but you can possibly drive to 7,000' or higher. Hike the NW couloir on Independence Peak, which is moderate and has a runout that won't kill you if you slip. Lots of mid angled slopes in this area to practice hiking with crampons around Kearsarge and University Peak, without long approaches depending on how far you can drive.

Chouinard's classic "Climbing Ice" is still very useful with its descriptions of French technique for crampons and ice axe.

Check the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center advisory before you go: http://www.esavalanche.org/advisory

You might want to consider including an avalanche course for your snow activities training. You DO need to be careful and obviously DON'T want to climb a slope that might avalanche on or with you!
10b4me

Social climber
Janie's
Mar 8, 2018 - 08:16am PT
Based on what you described, why not practice on U Notch?

I wouldn't recommend the U notch for a snow noob.
There is an easy gully on the NE aspect of Mt. Baden Powell(and you can avoid LA.
guyman

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
Mar 8, 2018 - 08:54am PT
Diamond Peak..... look it up.

Really nice weekend mountain climb in the springtime.

And right now you can go to June Lake and screw around on ice thatís right next to the pavement......

Get somebody (a guide, Flanders maybe) to show you a few doís and doníts .... itís pretty darn simple but EZ to F up.

Have fun

Splater

climber
Grey Matter
Mar 8, 2018 - 12:07pm PT
Some SoCal possibilities:
One of the chutes on the NE side of the Tahquitz Peak, good when there's snow. (causes erosion if you go there in summer).

Good slopes approached from the Icehouse Canyon trailhead. Same thing about being a good idea only when there's snow.

Various north slopes of the peaks near San Gorgonio (stop to get a permit).

Some hazards of the Swiss arÍte are the loose rocks at Glacier Notch, and descending the L-shaped snowfield if it's icy (best to descend when it's soft)


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