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Easy access to snowline in Sierra?
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Graeme Finley
(gfinley001) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Easy access to snowline in Sierra? on 05/11/2009 12:46:46 MDT Print View

Does anybody have suggestions on ways to get to the snowline in the Sierra around the end of May that won't require 4WD or too many miles of hiking in from a trailhead? I'm looking to test out some crampons and an ice ax and will be driving from the SF Bay area.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Easy access to snowline in Sierra? on 05/11/2009 14:37:56 MDT Print View

Hi Graeme,

Tioga Pass is a likely candidate. You can following the plowing schedule here:

Carson Pass and Echo Summit are always open and will give access to snowfields nearby. Sonora Pass and Ebbets passes are plowed annually and if open will definitely get you to the snow you crave :-)

Crunchy in the morning, moosh in the afternoon.



Edited by halfturbo on 05/11/2009 14:38:53 MDT.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
snow access. on 05/11/2009 15:02:23 MDT Print View

a coupla years back i did a pre-SHR tune-up in Desolation Wilderness. just a quick overnighter, to dial in the gear for a multi-week hike. parked at Echo Lake (upper parking lot) and hiked in, hitting snow pretty quickly. hiked around the south shore of Aloha, camped on some rock, played around with crampons, and headed out the next afternoon. (accessed via Highway 50.)

Klas Eklof
(klaseklof) - MLife

Locale: Northern California
ellery bowl on 05/11/2009 20:23:57 MDT Print View

Ellery Bowl.

Just on the east side of Tioga, above Ellery Lake.
You can park at the lake, walk across the dam, and your approach is complete.
Faces northeast, so the snow will be there well into June.
The slope ramps up gently, so you can go as steep or not steep as you feel comfortable.
It is sometimes used for beginner snow-mountaineering instruction.

Here's some pictures:

Dave's idea is real good too.

- Klas

(who hasn't skiied ellery yet...)

Edited by klaseklof on 05/11/2009 22:54:31 MDT.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Sierra Snow Pack??? on 05/11/2009 21:04:42 MDT Print View

How is the snow melting? Anybody have info? When can we start hiking? I am looking at June 13th maybe first hike.


Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Sierra Snow Pack??? on 05/11/2009 21:16:23 MDT Print View

They're supposed to open Hwy's 4 & 108 this week or was it last week. Hwy 120 is not too far off either

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Sierra Snow Pack??? on 05/11/2009 21:53:25 MDT Print View

You'll be able to follow the snowpack by watching here:

It's a 66% (average across the ranges) snowpack this year, so will be an early season. Again.


Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Sierra Snow Pack on 05/11/2009 22:06:20 MDT Print View

Thanks Ken and Rick!!!

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: Re: Sierra Snow Pack??? on 05/12/2009 00:02:11 MDT Print View

I just looked at the Tioga pass web page (cited in a previous message in this thread) and it says:

"There is no estimated opening date for the Tioga Road, although it usually opens in late May or early June, conditions permitting."

Peter Burke
(Fishmonger) - F

Locale: Midwest
Tioga Pass on 05/19/2009 12:27:31 MDT Print View

should open on May 22

and if you come from the east side, it's open anyway, you can drive right ot the top. See webcam:

Peter Burke
(Fishmonger) - F

Locale: Midwest
snow is melting fast on 05/19/2009 12:29:15 MDT Print View

Looks like the snow is on decline faster than last year. Very hot days in the last 10 days have really hit the snow cover. Look at the graph compared to last year, which was the warmest spring in record (the third one on the bottom is probably the most relevant)

Peter Burke
(Fishmonger) - F

Locale: Midwest
Tioga Pass opens 5-20-09 on 05/19/2009 12:31:59 MDT Print View

just announced

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
really fast on 05/19/2009 12:37:24 MDT Print View

if this pace continues, there will be some pretty high, pretty open places before june

charlotte lake's (elev 10,500 ft) snow gauge reports ~6 inches of snow today & had ~16 inches a week ago

crabtree meadow (10,700 ft) already reports no snow

Virginia Lakes (9300 ft) at 1.7 inches today, ~8 inches a week ago

fast melt!

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Sierra Snow Pack on 05/19/2009 14:52:40 MDT Print View

Let the games begin!! It is officially Backpacking season in the Sierras. The only upside of three years of drought is a sooner and easier access to the Sierras.. Darn-