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SHR ?'s and your thoughts.
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Joel Waddell
(TenderPaw) - F

Locale: Lake Tahoe
SHR ?'s and your thoughts. on 11/09/2010 14:50:54 MST Print View

Afternoon all,

Well its time to start planning for a solo SHR thru-hike Sept 2011.

First off got Roper's book and Tom's maps for the entire hike. Plotted it out and it looks like a true challange.
I spent some time looking through the trip reports and found very useful information. Thanks everyone who has posted!

A coulpe of ?'s

Did anyone use a spot or GPS?

Iceaxe? I know the answer will be dictated by this years snowfall, but in a normal year is one needed in Sept on this route?

Will I be able to find ample camping spots to use a sublite (not freestanding) tent?

Looks like about 7 days form roads end to the first resupply point. Can you please tell me where you resupplied at and how many days from each one.

I'm a slow walker, usually covering 10mpd, smelling all the flowers along the way. So uping the milage is not a concern for me, but 10mpd will be the goal, give or take a mile or three.
I should have the entire month to complete the trail. Here's to a few zero days.

Any thoughts or suggestions are welcome, thanks in advance.


Ben Egan

Locale: The Grid, Brooklyn
SHR ? Response on 11/09/2010 15:21:35 MST Print View

Hey Joel,

First, go get 'em man. That sounds like a great way to conquer the route. All the best of luck to you.

I planned a whole SHR earlier this year for 2010 but didn't go through with it. So take that disclaimer into consideration.

But after doing a lot of Sierra camping for years, on and off trail, I don't think that finding a suitable campsite at which you can stake in will be a problem. When there's a will there's a way, at least in the Sierras when pitching a tent. As long as you're open to walk a little bit, or start looking before it's too late, you'll find a spot even in the high granite areas. But still you have to be logical, like if you're peak bagging or perhaps on the top of a pass there probably isn't any place to stake in (much less water besides possible snow).

^ My 2c.

Joel Waddell
(TenderPaw) - F

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Camp spots on 11/09/2010 16:01:22 MST Print View

Thanks Ben,

Didnt have any trouble on the JMT this year finding a good spot, but a slight dif between the two. I plan on using my sublits on this hike, and never had a problem sleeping under the stars much preferred actually.

I'm planning on taking the summer off July thru Oct,

If all goes well I'll start off with bagging the Tahoe Rim Trail again July 1st thru the 10th

Tahoe-Yosemite trail from July 17th to the 31st

Meeting my girlfriend in Toulamne to hike the JMT south on Aug 1st thru 21st

Going home to Kayak for a few days and then start the HSR on Sept 1st.

Lots of planning and a good amount of luck are needed. Here's to cold beers and good maps by the fire...

David T
(DaveT) - F
shr. on 11/09/2010 16:16:56 MST Print View

HI there.

Now that's a summer of hiking.

One thought. The JMT and SHR do cover some of the same trail and the same area, so I'm not sure I'd hike both. I found that the SHR is a great alternative to the "John Muir Freeway." Every time it heads down into some trees in the bottom of the canyon, the SHR heads uphill instead. Much better!

If I did it solo, I wouldn't bring a GPS or compass, myself. However, I would bring good topo maps and be good at reading them, and include enough info on side routes to bail out if necessary. If I did it solo, I'd bring a PLB for sure. There are too many chances to get hurt among all that talus to not want a reliable way to get rescued if something like a broken leg happened.

September will mean great weather (probably) and sleeping out on granite slabs. I did it in late June/early July in lots of snow, and slept out almost every night. Camp spots are no problem, though if you sleep in a shelter, you might have to occasionally use rocks instead of stakes to hold it down.

No need for an ice axe in September. I had some need for it in late June, but could've gotten by without it, perhaps.

Also, be aware that some of the mileage you do will be SLOW. Some big climbs and descents, and lots and lots of talus.

Edited by DaveT on 11/09/2010 16:18:19 MST.

Joel Waddell
(TenderPaw) - F

Locale: Lake Tahoe
jmt vs shr on 11/09/2010 16:33:27 MST Print View

Thanks for the imput Dave T,

The JMT will be with my girlfreind, who saw my face and felt my vibe after completing the JMT last Sept and asked if I would do it with her. No ? at all. And once I completed the JMT the HSR was next on the check list.

I'm considering the Spot/GPS combo that REI has available. The spot is not a ?, and the GPS would be back up only to my compass and Harrison maps. If I'm going to be carring a spot and the gps doesnt add much weight, why not?

I didnt think I would need an iceaxe, thanks for the 2nd on that. I'm also thinking about useing trail runners, your thoughts? I have hiked most of my hikes in trail runners so nothing new. Is the talus such that boots are needed?

How long (mileage and days) between resupply points?

David T
(DaveT) - F
SHR on 11/09/2010 16:43:35 MST Print View

Definitely do the JMT too then! It's a great trail, and in September it won't be a bummper-to-bumper freeway.

If you are good with a map (and compass if necessary), I wouldn't bring a GPS. The route is almost all above timberline, and it's pretty hard (I think) to get lost. But that's a decision everyone has to make for themselves.

I personally wouldn't use a SPOT for my solo safety, but I'm not one to care about the "I'm OK" functionality. I just want a PLB-style way to get out if it really gets bad. I love the SPOT concept, I just am waiting for it to be better implemented (there has been LOTS of talk on threads about this at BPL).

I use trail runners for most hiking, but when I do lots of off-trail work in the Sierra, I like something a little more robust. I still use Vasque Velocity shoes, the style for a few years ago. Just a wider tread, stiffer sole, and a bit more lateral support for all the scrambling about.

Resupply and days between I don't have comparable info, since it mostly was a long hard snow slog when I did it.

David Loome
(DavidLoome) - F

Locale: American Southwest
SHR on 11/18/2010 19:01:43 MST Print View

I posted some stuff about the SHR on my website here:

I did the SHR solo in 12 days in 2009. Couple thoughts about your queries in no particular order.

-I carried an ice axe the whole way, and only used it for about 1/2 mile going down Sky Pilot Col. It was worth it.

-Carried a compass and would reccomend it, nice to use to orient a map once or twice. Terrain is very easy to read if you know what you're doing.

-Plan on cutting your normal mileage by 1/3 to 1/2, increase your normal food by about 1/3.

-No problem finding places to stay, though needing to get stakes in the ground with a tarp could be tough in the high areas. Lots of nice flat rocks, not a lot of soil to put a stake in. Only pitched my shelter once, but it was a doozy.

-Carried a SPOT, would again. Some of that talus is pretty gnarly. Potentially easy to turn an ankle or crush a foot.

-Couple of spots are a little hairy, notably Frozen Lake Pass, and Sky Pilot Col IMO. You could slip and tumble a pretty good way by being careless for even a second.

-I used New Balance trail runners and would again, nice to have something responsive and nimble on all that talus instead of chunky boots.
Good luck!

Frank Deland

Locale: On the AT in VA
thoughts on SHR on 11/18/2010 19:41:01 MST Print View

I have only done a section north of Tuolumne. Roper and others say compass and GPS, not necessary which is true, but I carried and used both. For example, your GPS will show you just where you are on Virginia Canyon Trail which you have to cross and then head up toward Grey Butte.

I found progress to be quite slow thanks to rocks and some bushwacking, plus walking over some snow areas.
coming down from Sky Pilot Col in early August:

I am sure we made our own route a few times.

SPOT is nice for the folks back home. Plus, it will give you a record of just where you were once you get home. You can see where you made your own route!

My daughter is an excellent map reader of contour lines which was key to finding the best route which is often not a straight line toward you distant destination.

It is great that you do not have to push it. I found it tiring, but a great adventure.

We used a Gossemer Gear SpinShelter and a SMD Wild Oasis. I found the shepherd hook thin tent stakes worked best in the rocky soil. A shelter is not neeeded every nigh. Stars are !!!!!

Ice ax not needed, but micro spikes might have saved me from a couple of falls on snow. Nothing dangerous, just slips.

No problem using trail runners. I wore Merrell Moab Ventilators.

Edited by rambler on 11/18/2010 19:52:41 MST.

Klas Eklof
(klaseklof) - MLife

Locale: Northern California
SHR ?'s on 11/20/2010 16:17:33 MST Print View

Hi Joel,

I have thru-hiked the route solo, and repeated many sections on shorter trips with friends.

A GPS is completely unnecessary. All you need is good map reading skills and adequate prep.
When I went solo, I carried a compass but never used it. If I did it again I would not even bring a compass.
I did however also carry a PLB. And was VERY glad about this decision. It provided piece of mind.
I would carry it again, and I highly recommend it. Don't become that guy we never hear from again.

My thru-hike was mid summer during a very low snow year. I did not carry an axe.
I agree that during early September you should not need it - unless we have a really deep year.

You will have no problem finding a place to pitch. I took a 5oz. solo tarp
without any trouble, and I did experience more than my share of weather.
However, if you are taking a sublite then you are probably taking trekking poles,
and I always say that poles really just get in the way on this route (if there is no snow).
Half the time you will be strapping them to your pack. To me that is too much weight for not enough use.

I resupplied only once, at Red's, after 6 days. I should have planned a 2nd re-up in Tuolumne, that was my mistake.
If you are going to take the whole month, you need one stop before Red's. Best choice I think is to go out over Bishop Pass.

On shoes...The trail runners are OK. I do a lot of that. Boots are certainly not mandatory.
However, I wear approach shoes for this kind of terrain.
With super sticky rubber, stiff soles, and toe armor, I have found that I am actually much faster
off-trail with approach shoes.

Lastly, if I had a whole month, in addition to your zeros, I would climb some stuff. Think about Sill, Feather, Ritter, Conness, and Matterhorn.

Best of luck!

- Klas


Steve S
(idahosteve) - F

Locale: Idaho
SHR plans on 11/20/2010 16:44:01 MST Print View

I'm also looking very seriously at going after the SHR this next season. I'm a fan of later in the season, leaving the snow and dealing with the talus. My initial plans are to do the whole thing in a 14 day span. Try to do one re-supply and thats it. I'm not going solo, but haven't gotten a definite response from a couple of guys. Would feel better with a small team (2-4)of fast moving competent people.

Read with interest two items. One from David about dropping mileage 1/3 to 1/2. Wanted to know what kind of mileage you were avg on your trip. Second, the response from Klas about leaving the trekking poles at home. I've used my poles in lots of hair ball talus, but wanted to know what made this different? Were you used to talus, or was it different, used your hands? As an experienced climber it might be different for others? Never thought about my poles being a hindrance... finally, how did you work the bear cannister. Thats the one thing here in Idaho we haven't had to deal with. Bears up here RUN when they see people. They get shot otherwise. Guess its one way of keeping them wary and wild!

I was not planning on taking either GPS, compass, or PLB. Not to sound cocky, but have looked in depth at the maps, with TOPO software, read Roper's book, and quite a few reports etc, felt with my experience I could make it work without any problems.

Would be interested in keeping in contact with any and all who are looking to do this route as it might be feasible to pool some resources, or even meet up during some sections or join forces if that worked out. Shuttles might be a possibility as well. Time will tell....

one last item, was thinking that my luxury item/activity would be to fish at the end of the day in some of the more remote lakes. Any feedback from you who have done the route or sections on the lake fishing? Thanks

Good luck all!

Edited by idahosteve on 11/20/2010 16:57:55 MST.

Royal Magnell
(BlueMan) - F

Locale: Northern CA
Growing Obession =) on 11/22/2010 12:03:54 MST Print View

I'm becomming more and more obessed with the High Sierra Route. I've been interested in it for years, but now I suddenly really, really want to do it. We'll see if can do it. As a poor graduating college student I'm not sure if I'll have the time, money, or resources to pull it off, but if I can I'd hope to do it this summer.

I'd always figured if I did it I'd have to do it solo, as I don't know anyone interested in it. I've been in contact with ^ Steve though and if I could swing doing it with him or someone else likeminded then that'd be even better.

The big question is how many miles you can comfortably do up there. I'd be pretty happy if I could do it in 12-16 days. I really am not into the resupply thing so I'd hope to only resupply once.

Going light is definately the way to go. I will definately bring my trekking poles. I have a smaller bear canister and out of fear of the rangers I'd probably bring it... but I would be awesome to get away with not bringing it and run the risk of a ticket. I'm tempting to try and fit some climbing in up there but I doubt that'd happen.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: SHR Resource on 11/22/2010 12:31:08 MST Print View

Andrew Skurka

Everything you wanted to know, and then some.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: SHR ?'s and your thoughts. on 11/22/2010 12:53:21 MST Print View

I'm a fast hiker and it was a challenge to do a dozen miles a day. Tent spots aren't a problem. GPS is uneccessary, navigation is fun! I'd bring a spot, it's a good idea.

Ice axe depends on conditions.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: Re: SHR ?'s and your thoughts. on 11/22/2010 15:18:11 MST Print View

If I were to do it again I would do it with some snow still on the passes. In the few areas that had snow I was singing "I love snow" till my was sick of it. I would hike snow any day over talus.

Did the SHR to Red's in August 2009. No ice axe but took and used trekking poles. There were times that I used both but for many of the sketchier sections I went down to a single pole.

Plenty of places to camp. I will also second (or third) the reduced mileage. The elevation is high and the physical exertion much higher than the JMT for example. Overall our mileage dropped by about a third but the off trail sections by about half.

I took and used a GPS. Either way I suspect you will get turned around a couple of times. (There's a reason that so many people report "Roper was unclear.) If you take a GPS PM me and I can send you all the waypoints.

Great trip to do.

David Loome
(DavidLoome) - F

Locale: American Southwest
pace on 11/22/2010 15:37:00 MST Print View

@ Steve Silva- I did the route in 11 days with one day off to mess around at Red's Meadow, so just under 20 average per hiking day, which seems like a reasonable pace. I'd probably plan to cover 1/3 to 1/2 your usual miles because I usually hike about 30 miles/day on a long distance walk, my pace on the SHR was 2/3 that, and this required a higher than normal effort. Also, you have to stop somewhat frequently to check maps and look around and go "WOW!" a lot. It's pretty.

I hiked in to Roads End from the East side of the Sierra via Kearsarge Pass / Onion Valley TH to make some transport issues easier, because the SHR ends on the East side of the range. It adds 20 miles, but is an easy and beautiful one day hike.

I carried non-adjustable poles (BPL Stix) and didn't have an issue. I think I strapped them on my pack once, if that. The terrain is generally not so technical that you need your hands.

My SPOT was awesome, and I would definitely take it for a solo hike- The risk of injury is considerable on all that talus...

Klas Eklof
(klaseklof) - MLife

Locale: Northern California
SHR ?'s on 11/28/2010 15:32:30 MST Print View


Above I recommended that, based on your pace and schedule, you could hike out over Bishop Pass for your first resupply. It just occurred to me that when returning to route from this detour, you could re-enter over Lamarck Col. This will really only bypass the JMT section over Muir Pass, but your will have been there already. The positive is you skip a day of walking on the JMT again, and you get the wonderful trip over the Col and down Darwin Canyon.

Joel Waddell
(TenderPaw) - F

Locale: Lake Tahoe
The positive is you skip a day of walking on the JMT again, and you get the wonderful trip over the Col and down Darwin Canyon. on 11/29/2010 13:43:12 MST Print View

Does anyone have any photos "the Col and down Darwin Canyon"?

It's been real hard to stop thinking about hiking even with five feet of fresh snow on the ground!

My splitboard just arrived so the ability to get some backcountry freshies might help...

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
SHR -Lamarck Col on 11/29/2010 14:27:01 MST Print View


dscn123 (2)
Darwin Lakes & Canyon


Looking down from the top....

Up to the Lamarck Col

Edited by Creachen on 11/29/2010 14:29:42 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: SHR -Lamarck Col on 11/29/2010 15:06:14 MST Print View

Jay's photos show it fine. I have similar photos of the area, but everything was covered in snow in April.

The other good climber's route of this area is Echo Col, which is a couple of days south of here. Lots of rocks.


Ken Ross
(kross) - MLife
Re: More Lamarck Col photos on 11/29/2010 16:56:25 MST Print View

Col Approach 1
Approach to the Col from the northeast

Col Approach 2
Up the snow field

Col Approach 3
Final approach

Col Top
At the top

The other side, looking toward Mt Mendel and Mt Darwin

Col Approach 4
Looking back down the approach, tarn below Col

Darwin Canyon 1
Looking down Darwin Canyon

Darwin Canyon 2
Darwin Canyon lakes

Darwin Bench
Darwin bench

Darwin Bench 2
Darwin Bench, last lake before descent into Evolution Valley

There is an interesting article here about a hiker that went down the "wrong way" and got into trouble earlier this year. The article includes a good photo of the approach to the Col taken from Mt Lamarck.