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Yosemite " Epic snow Trip" 2011
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Backpack Jack
(jumpbackjack) - F

Locale: Armpit of California
Yosemite " Epic snow Trip" 2011 on 03/23/2011 23:53:08 MDT Print View

WOW!!! I don't even know where to start. Originally this trip had around 12-13 people going up to Dewey Point in Yosemite on 3/17-3/20/2011, as it got closer to the take off time, the weather reports I had been getting were varied, but for me not to alarming. Most did not make it, some were getting over being sick, others still not sure about the weather, which later was probably a wise choice on thier part, and some just couldn't get away from work, we all know how that goes.

The trip started with 3 BPL'ers, Adam C., and Marc E. came from up north, I came from the south, Adam met me in Oakhurst so we could car pool into the park and split the cost, Marc came in from the north by himself, and was the 1st one to the A-frame to obtain the permit. The skys were partly cloudy, with crisp mountain air blowing, temp was around 30* nice day for a hike. After geting the permit we were instructed where we could park the cars, overnight hikers had to park in a specific area so the snow plow could get through, we got dressed and all the gear together, and we were ready to hike, I think it was about 11:30 a.m. when we started.

Last minute checks before we head out, even though everybodys gear was a little different, we all weighed in at about 30lbs

trail head


Looking back at the trail head, and we're off.

Looking back at th

After taking a few pics we headed out on a nice groomed road/trail, you could see were they groomed for skis, and snow shoes were off to the side.

Heading up the trail.


Adam and Marc, a few more adjustments


What a way to start your day.


Adam out in front.


The sun would keep trying to poke through the clouds all day.


Getting near the top, and the views are starting to show.





We're at the top, taking pics around 1:30 p.m.


I think this was looking off the right side, if you were hiking straight out to the point


This almost looks fake.

WOW !!

WOW !!

Looks like bad weather, maybe we should set up our shelters.

WOW !!

Not before we get a pic of " Adam, king of Dewey Point" and a few more.


WOW !!


I will try to finish this post tomorrow.

Edited by jumpbackjack on 03/24/2011 08:33:10 MDT.

Adam Criswell
(macrophyllum) - F

Locale: Northern California
Epic Snow Trip 2011 on 03/24/2011 21:06:56 MDT Print View

Sorry Jack I got too impatient to post my pics... I hope you add more soon.

Friday morning, feeling good. Notice we don't need snowshoes. We debated not bringing them, that wou

Jack with his Chillba hat.

Jack with his Chillba hat.

View of El Capitan from Dewey Point.

Snow starting to come in Friday night

How not to set a tarp up for snow. I had to redo my shelter in the dark when I realized it wasn't going to work.

Tarptent Moment in the foreground, Marc had a Solomid and my homemade tarp in the background.

Another view of our campsite, the kitchen tent was a great addition9


Jack in the almost finished igloo, unfortunately, we ran out of time





My tarp before I dug it out Saturday night.


Inside tarp, a lot of snow blew in from the 40 mph winds. Also, notice bulging sides from snow load.


Sunday morning, more than 2 feet of snow overnight.


Insulated insoles were a real lifesaver for my feet.


Just before setting out Sunday morning, we had no idea what was in store for us.


Always smiling.


Poor visibility made following trail markers difficult.


Happy to be living life fully.

Andy and Brian, two guys who camped near us on Saturday night. They didn't know what to expect either.


I was so happy these guys joined us, we could share the work of breaking trail and they were great company.

Badger Pass Lodge. Snowed in with no power.

Marc looking happy to have his truck free from the snow.

After spending the night inside we all pitched in to shovel out the lodge. The snow just kept coming.

Caravan out of Yosemite. This was our one chance to get out, another storm was coming in fast.



Beautiful views heading into the valley.



Happy to be safe, warm and full of food. We had a great ride out of the valley, although it took many hours there were lots of laughs and good times.

Edited by macrophyllum on 03/24/2011 22:01:15 MDT.

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Epic Snow Trip 2011 on 03/25/2011 00:00:44 MDT Print View

Jack & Adam,

Holy Cow Man!

40 mph and loads of snow dumping on you and trail runners for footwear!

How did you navigate in and out of there?

Solely by GPS/electronics or by compass?

Looks like an amazing trip with some nervous moments due to the weather.

Guessing that all your tracks coming in from the day before were wiped clean by the snow.

Details, did you cook? What type of stove?

What were the challenges just setting up, were you snug and warm in your shelter, did you have to knock snow off at night, etc?

Lots of questions because I am a Noob snow camper....had I been there, I am sure that I would have been a nervous wreck.


Scott Truong

Locale: Vancouver, BC
Re: Epic Snow Trip 2011 on 03/25/2011 10:14:27 MDT Print View

That's pretty wicked. Sounds like an exceptionally memorable trip. Really impressed with the igloo, finished or not.

I have to do some snow-camping. Thanks.

Ron Bell
(mountainlaureldesigns) - F - M

Locale: USA
Re: Re: Epic Snow Trip 2011 on 03/25/2011 10:33:07 MDT Print View

I LOVE this trip report. Uplifting, positive and a great inspiratipn to me to get out more and enjoy the great utdoors in lw style!

Plus, I lived there in the park for a few years and NEED to get back soon.

Marc Eldridge
(meld) - MLife

Locale: The here and now.
"Yosemite " Epic snow Trip" 2011" on 03/25/2011 22:43:58 MDT Print View

Here are some more pictures and comments. I left 5:30 am on friday March 18th . I usually come in on 120 but hadn't called to see if it was open. I knew 140 would be open so headed down to Merced and hooked a left. I was surprised to find the slide still there on the way in. I remember going in to ski at Badger in I think '97 and it had just happened.

goin in

Not a very good picture but this is still a great view.

way in

Adam, Jack and Marc going in late friday morning. I had gotten to the a frame just ahead of Jack and Adam and got the permit. Headed to the parking lot, got our stuff together and headed off on the trail. The snow was crusty and we didn't really need snow shoes. Microspikes would have been just fine.

crusty snow

No snow on the trees yet but nice and cloudy.

way in

Adam and Jack by Adams Ray Way tarp.

adam jack

Jack's Tarptent Moment, and my MLD Solomid. This was saturday morning after it had snow almost a foot friday night. We had cut blocks of snow out for a kitchen we were going to set up and stacked the blocks around the shelter to block the wind. This allowed the snow to build up on the shelter and in the middle of the night I had to get up and shovel it off.


This was the excavation we did for the kitchen that we ended up not using because it was too large an area. You can see the snowfall for the night on top of the table.


Took a little hike back out to Dewey point and got a picture looking south. At this point you couldn't see across the the valley.

dewey point

We set up the kitchen with and 8x10 tarp Jack had brought. We used the blocks from the other kitchen site to make a wind block.


Adam and Jack got up about 10:00 friday night and had to move Adams shelter because it wasn't working. They quarried some more blocks and used those and some of the others to build a wind block.

adams shelter

This was Adams tarp early sunday morning. He said he had already been up once and shoveled it off.


Sunday morning after 2 ft of snow and 50 mph gusts. I had dug a big trench around the bottom of the shelter and that filled up with snow and most of the rest was blown away. I like the drift on the windward side of the shelter. It was a pretty sleepless night with the wind howling in the trees and rattling the tent. My little Toughstakes held just fine.


Me in the kitchen we made. Was thankful for the shelter even though it wasn't a taught pitch.

solomid sun morning

Looking out from the kitchen.

kitchen out

Melting snow. It was only in the 20's and the little Pocket Rocket just barely did the job. Adam had an MSR gas stove which can really melt some snow. I had just gotten the Light Energy overboots and they kept my feet dry and warm with my innov-8 and thick wool sox. It had continued to snow all night and was still snowing sunday morning. We decided that it wasn't going to let up and decided to go as soon as possible.

melting snow

It was snowing and blowing pretty good when we took off. The blaze on the trees was pretty hard to see with all the blowing snow and we had to double back a couple of times to find the marks on the trees. I was physically incapable of breaking trail and Jack didn't have any tails for his shoes so most of the first mile of trail was broken by Adam. Thank you Adam. We were off the blazes when Brian and Andy came up behind us. They had been camping out by us at Dewey point and were glad to have the first mile of trail broken. We were certainly glad to see them because Adam was starting to tire. We backtracked and found the blazes and were off again. I was in good spirits when we had spotted a blaze and headed for it but was a little worried when we got to a blaze and couldn't see the next one. We would head out in a direction hoping the blaze was out that way then we would see it. Between Andy, Brian and Adam we broke into the meadow and shortly thereafter two more people came up behind us. They were out beyond Dewey point and were having a hard time of it when they saw our trail. About 2/3 of the way across the meadow we came upon a trail that another group had broken and everyone took off like a shot. The two people came up behind me were pretty tired so I fell in behind them. Adam waited for me at Glacier Point road to see how I was doing. I was pretty tired and out of shape but was alright. Adam took off and I followed the other two people. When we got the parking lot they told us that no one was getting out and we were going to have to stay in the lodge. That was fine with me. The jeep was buried and only a little hump in the snow. We dug out the vehicles and lined them up in front of the lodge in preparation for a caravan down the hill.

breaking trail

Brian and Andy who helped us break trail out, me Adam and Jack at the lodge. We were happy to be out of the blizzard at that point. The electricity was off in the lodge so we were given permission to eat what was in the kitchen. It was fairly well stocked so we got a pretty good dinner sunday night.

smbrian andy marc adam jack

It snow all night sunday and we had to do a little more digging monday morning go get them ready for the caravan out. Had some nice pancakes monday morning and a nice cup of coffee.

digging out

After breakfast one of the groups was going to have a yoga class so we went upstairs and did yoga for an hour and a half. That was really interesting.


Andy and Brian who saved us on the trail.

andy and Brian

A little break in the clouds monday afternoon.

blue sky

Marc, Adam and Jack.

marc adam jack

Snow blower coming up from the valley.

snow blower

The caravan out.


Going to the valley floor on 41.

going to valley

El capitan on the way out. 41 and 140 were closed so we had to go out 120.

el capitan

Edited by meld on 03/26/2011 09:50:04 MDT.

K ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Great! on 03/25/2011 22:57:49 MDT Print View

Awesome trip report! Jack , you continue to be a snow magnet. Sorry to have missed it, and for some work that didn't even happen...
A great adventure.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Yosemite " Epic snow Trip" 2011 on 03/26/2011 07:07:39 MDT Print View

What a great trip! Wish I had been there, sounds like a wonderful adventure!

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Re: Yosemite " Epic snow Trip" 2011 on 03/26/2011 08:30:52 MDT Print View

Great pics guys and a nice trip much as you guys were having fun, this is one trip that I don't feel guilty missing. Let's go for it in April!!!

Adam Criswell
(macrophyllum) - F

Locale: Northern California
Epic Snow Trip 2011 on 03/26/2011 11:31:45 MDT Print View

Hi Tony,

As this was my first winter camping experience I really learned a lot.

Navigation was not difficult as long as we could see. That trail is well marked with yellow signs marking the trail. On Friday, we didn't even need the markers because the trail was obvious in the snow. Coming out was another situation and with the blizzard conditions we often had trouble seeing the next marker. It became easier when there were 5 of us because we could all keep an eye out for the markers. Marc had a GPS but I don't think he had it programmed for that stretch of trail and so we couldn't use it to navigate. I am not familiar with GPS but my understanding is that you need some kind of reference points preset to orient with. I had a compass but no map. Jack and I both forgot our maps in the car, this was a mistake that I hope not to repeat again. In normal weather it would not have been a problem but in those conditions we had a much more difficult time navigating and knowing where we were.

For cooking we had 3 different stoves, Jack and Marc both had canister stoves that did not perform well in the cold. And it wasn't even that cold, the temps were in the 20's most of the time. I brought an MSR whisperlite that I have had for a while and not used much. It really rocked, I melted most of the snow for our group as well as cooked for myself. I was impressed with the amount of heat this thing put out. It isn't the lightest option but I found it very practical for the snow.

Setting up camp was a fun experience, I love the snow and hadn't been in any for a number of years so I was gung-ho to dig trenches. My first shelter was a total failure because I dug too wide a trench and set the tarp up with not enough angle. I had piled all the snow around as a windbreak but it acted as a dam to hold snow. As soon as it started to really snow I realized that the snow had nowhere to go except on top of the tarp which would eventually collapse on me. So, with Jacks help, I re-set up my tarp with a better angle and a narrower trench. It still wasn't very good but it worked. If I was to do it again I would learn a different configuration to the A frame and set it up with at least 3 sides all the way to the snow. When the wind picked up, I had a lot of snow blowing in under the edges. My bivy kept most of it off my sleeping bag but I had to put my rain jacket over my head to keep snow out of the mesh portion of the bivy. This was not a very comfortable sleep situation. I think it is also easier to dig out under the tarp after it has been set up rather than before. And, Marc had a good idea to cut a 2 foot deep trench around his solomid to allow the snow to fall in. This saved him from having to get up in the middle of the night to dig out.

I was toasty warm both nights, I used my old Taiga bag which is heavy but bombproof and good to about 20. Combined with my insulated clothing I was fine, I didnt even need my insulated pants and booties. Coldest temp was 17 on Friday night and 24 on Saturday night. We all had to knock snow off our shelters. I think this is unavoidable when getting dumped on no matter what the shelter. Sleep was not very good, I woke up at least once an hour to knock off snow and to check on the conditions.

The saw was a great addition, I think you could find a collapsible pruning saw that would be lighter and easier to pack. But that saw made carving out blocks and trenches much easier than a snow shovel.

Insulated insoles were great, I used Toasty Feet.

A sit pad is pretty important. I used my torsolite pad and found that 2-3 folds were best for keeping my butt warm.

Wide mouth bottles are better in the winter. They are easier to pour hot water into, they are easier to handle with mitts and the mouth doesn't freeze as quickly. My platypus bottles worked but not well.

One thing that I wasn't able to manage effectively was moisture. On the hike out, when breaking trail, you generate a lot of heat and sweat. I tried different layering but between sweating and all the snow falling and melting I got soaked through. If this was a longer trip this would have been a serious problem. As it was I was barely able to stay warm enough and I wasn't warm enough when not breaking trail. As soon as we hooked up with the last 1.5 mile section of trail that another group had made I shot ahead to warm myself up. I think everyone had the same problem with getting wet. The temps were just below freezing so the snow that fell on us melted quickly. I guess maybe a vapor barrier set up would have helped with this but I am not really familiar with using that.

So those are the highlights of what I learned, something that I brought with me is that it is important to keep a positive attitude. And although there were times that I was worried that we would be spending another night out there I never felt afraid or panicked. It was such a beautiful landscape that I was happy to be there with good company.

Hope that helps to answer some of your questions.

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Epic Snow Trip 2011 on 03/26/2011 12:33:14 MDT Print View


Thanks for rounding out this great trip report with your detailed some ways I wish I had been there with you guys, but the chicken in me was more than happy to look at the photos. :)

My navigation skills suck and I don't own GPS, so that would be the reason I might be peeing ice cubes down my leg if I were in that situation.

Sounds like the trail was really well marked, which was a saving grace for you all.

Just glad that you guys made it out safely to be able to laugh about it all.

I have only done one winter trip, with the Sierra club, and went to Crocker Pointer/Dewy Point....views are amazing there.

No doubt, even snowing, it would have been pretty.

I had the same problem as you with my 1st snow trench, making it too wide.

I have read in some BPL articles about how to use a canister stove in the winter, but this is one case where I am totally good with carrying the heavy white gas stove.

Did you guys eat tons of food to keep warm and to fuel yourselves with all the calories you burned on breaking trail?

Thank you all for the great write up and photos to share the trip.

Hope I can get a trip in with you sometime in the future.


Rick Horne
(Rick778) - M

Locale: NorCal - South Bay - Campbell
Re: Re: Re: Yosemite " Epic snow Trip" 2011 on 03/26/2011 12:35:29 MDT Print View

Great trip report and awesome adventure! What did you guys use for sleep pads. Have never snow camped, but would love to give it a try.

kevin smith
got to meet them on 03/27/2011 08:34:46 MDT Print View

jack and i made a trek to rei in fresno yesterday to pick up some gear

and by chance we got to meet up with andy and brian at the store

after that we all decided to have some dinner and a chat these are a couple of really nice guys it was great to chat with them over a burger and fries they have a great amount of excitement about lightening up thier packs and doing more trips
and it was a pleasure to meet both of them and hear thier story of this trip
and all the stuff they went thru to get out of there hopefully we can get them out
on some other trips this summer as they both would be a great addition to any bpl trip

andy and brian it was a pleasure to meet you both and hopefully you can get out on
a bpl trip sometime this spring or summer that would be great

great trip report by the way all the pics and captions really depicted what you guys were up against out there i would have been there with you guys had i known earlier that my camping trip for that weekend was cancelled maybe next time


Edited by divr6347 on 03/27/2011 08:36:35 MDT.

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Re: Yosemite " Epic snow Trip" 2011 on 03/27/2011 11:57:16 MDT Print View

Good to hear everyone made it out safely. From the photos and reports "EPIC" definitely sounds like the perfect summary of the trip. Like others, wishing I was there, but glad I wasn't.

It's nice to see a first timer's perspective also. Good work Adam, and great job on your detailed report!

Backpack Jack
(jumpbackjack) - F

Locale: Armpit of California
Re: Yosemite " Epic snow Trip" 2011 on 03/27/2011 16:17:09 MDT Print View

Sorry I haven't finished my part, I tried Fri. morning before work, but my computer has a glitch, and it was all erased, if I have time tonight I will post the rest. Thanks Adam, and Marc for posting what you did. Tony no need to be afraid, according to Kat I'm the snow magnet, just stick with me, the snow is my friend, the snow is my friend, ooohhhmmmmm!!, ooohhhmmmmm! be one with the snow, ahh, I feel better already.

Adam Criswell
(macrophyllum) - F

Locale: Northern California
Epic Snow Trip 2011 on 03/27/2011 22:06:39 MDT Print View


I used a ridgerest solite pad with a 3/4 prolite inflatable on top. It was more than I ended up needing but I wanted to err on the side of warmth. I would have been fine with just the solite pad and if necessary could have put my pack and sit pad under me as well.

I think Jack and Marc both used some 1/8 inch foam underneath the neo air. They didn't complain of being cold so I guess that worked for them.

Joshua Billings
(Joshua) - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz,Ca
nice trip on 03/27/2011 23:02:47 MDT Print View

I had a very similar experience in 2007 on my first snow trip. Had to stay in the lodge Sunday night because a few plows were down.

Edited by Joshua on 03/27/2011 23:05:58 MDT.

Backpack Jack
(jumpbackjack) - F

Locale: Armpit of California
Yosemite " Epic snow Trip" 2011 on 03/27/2011 23:08:01 MDT Print View

Let's try this again.

After we took those pics at Dewey Point we went back to set up camp. We tried to set up a kitchen, but the wind was really blowing hard, so we ditched that idea untill morning. All the blocks that we put around our shelters did not help like we had planned, the snow slid off the shelters up against the wind block, and just started to pile up over night. Most everything has been posted, so I'll just put up some more pics with a few words.

Fri. afternoon, my Moment with wind/snow blocks in place


Marcs Solomid with wind screen.


Fri. afternoon, Adams first attempt on his shelter, nice lots of room under there.


Sat. morning, time to start the digging out. This was after a long night in our shelters, the wind started blowing, and snowing so we all turned in Fri. night around 6:30 p.m. what a long night, got down to 17* but everyone stayed warm. Adam is right I had a Neoair reg. with a ccf 1/8 pad under that, I never felt cold, always toasty warm.



Adam Sat. morning after I helped him re-set his shelter Fri. night. Before the trip Adam told me he wanted snow, well there you go Adam, you're one tuff hombre!


What a mess, but this isnt the first time this has happened to me in my Moment.


A pic inside Adams man cave.


Finally got the kitchen tarp up, this will make life easier!


We closed one end of the tarp to help block the wind.


A look inside the kitchen before we dug out the floor.


The aftermath of Fri./Sat looks like a war zone of snow blocks and baracades. You can see in this pic where Marc dug his trench to let any snow that built up on the Solomid, to slide into it, it worked pretty good.


These next pics are back at Dewey on Sat. afternoon



This is the rock that Adam was standing on just 24 hrs ago.



Sat. afternoon taking pics, this was a skier heading back, some people under the tree eating lunch, our camp was up this trail off to the right in the trees.


The sun teasing us all day Sat.


Edited by jumpbackjack on 03/27/2011 23:38:40 MDT.

Backpack Jack
(jumpbackjack) - F

Locale: Armpit of California
Yosemite " Epic snow Trip" 2011 on 03/27/2011 23:28:56 MDT Print View

Come on "SUN"


These next pics are inside my Momentmon Sat night around midnight, this is when things got a little scary, I started praying that the trees wouldn't fall on us in the middle of the night. The wind was at least 50 mph, at times, it was so windy I coud feel my shelter move under me. This is inside, the left is where my door is at, and the vestibule. In the vestibule, I had my pack and my boots, which you can't even see due to all the wind driven snow covering both of them, I literally had to dig my way out that morning, "CRAZY, BUT FUN"




Adam, busting trail out of camp Sun. morning, he was one of the "3 Dewey Pont TrailBusters" You were an animal Adam! This is also the last known spot were Adams snow shovel was seen, who wants to go find it?


I have a few more pics I will try to post the rest Mon.

Edited by jumpbackjack on 03/27/2011 23:32:21 MDT.

Juston Taul

Locale: Atlanta, GA
Trench on 03/28/2011 06:34:44 MDT Print View

The trench that was dug around the SoloMid is a genius idea. I'll store that into my bag of tricks. Great TR. I really enjoyed all of the pictures.