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Kaiser Wilderness (Western Sierra) Conditions
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Morgan Strauss
(voodmann) - MLife
Kaiser Wilderness (Western Sierra) Conditions on 07/04/2011 11:46:32 MDT Print View

Last week the ranger told me that the snow was still 12 feet deep at 8,500 feet up near Potter Pass. I know a timely summer is still a pipe dream for much of the Sierras.

Just wondering if anyone has been up in this area in the last couple weeks, as I might be doing an overnight if the conditions align with my gear/skill level (currently does not allow winter conditions).

Any information would be appreciated.


Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
Kaiser Wilderness Conditions on 07/04/2011 12:48:11 MDT Print View


I know it was a big snow year, but rangers reports are usually drastically overstated and a few weeks late. Check out the forum at, PCT list, and for some more recent trip reports.

There are also links to snow meters located all over the Sierra.

I highly doubt that as of right now there is 12feet of snow at 8,500 feet. People seem to be able to make it over Kearsage pass, much higher, so I'm sure 8500 is fine.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Kaiser Wilderness Conditions on 07/04/2011 14:40:38 MDT Print View

I've been watching the snow depth daily numbers from the Water Resources people, and I am watching one specific location in order to see the trend. Just within the last week there has been an increase in the melt rate, partly due to the warmer weather.

If you are choosing one location to watch the data, it might be best to choose one nearby and on the same side of the mountains. Kaiser Pass and Kearsarge Pass are not.

Also, one person might have seen 12 feet of snow in a drift, and that surely doesn't mean a consistent 12 feet of snow over a wide area, nor will that last very long.

One area of interest to me didn't look like it would be passable until the end of July, based on the trend as of June 15. Based on the current trend, it should be passable by July 15. This is good news.

Keep in mind that the streams will be running dangerously high.


Bill Law
(williamlaw) - M

Locale: SF Bay Area
Re: Kaiser Wilderness (Western Sierra) Conditions on 07/05/2011 10:53:17 MDT Print View

I was in the Sierra NF twice in the last month. Snow level (on forest service roads) was around 6500' on Jun 11/12, 7200' on Jun 25/26. On trails at slightly higher elevations, snow coverage was still considerable, depending on aspect and exposure. The snow was pretty well consolidated but I gave up on trying to follow the trail when it went through forest. Spots were very boggy and large stream crossings would have been somewhat difficult.

I hiked over Potter Pass years ago on Memorial Day in an average snow year (as I recall). The snow on the descent on the far side of the pass was the only solid coverage and i made my way to the lakes below Kaiser Peak pretty easily. Climbing the ridge to the peak was entirely on snow and there was still a bit of a cornice at the top.

My general impression was that there was more snow 2 weeks ago at 7500' than there was when I travelled that pass. But 3 weeks of melt and being 50 miles further south might even things out.

Check the forest service road conditions, too; I found those pretty accurate. I know there is a road on the back side of Kaiser Ridge descending from Kaiser Pass. That might give you a good idea about conditions on that trail.


Update: Turns out I was there on Jun 24, not Memorial Day. In '06, which was a pretty big snow year (seemed to be different in different locations). Interesting comparison here:

Pictures from then:
Pictures from my recent trips:

Edited by williamlaw on 07/05/2011 16:31:27 MDT.

Morgan Strauss
(voodmann) - MLife
Re: Feedback on 07/05/2011 15:35:50 MDT Print View

Thanks for all the encouraging words. Luckily, half of the party is going up early, so I will know before I actually go if it's doable. I was just up near Kearsarge over the weekend and the conditions were entirely different, no snow on the pass, but lots of snow around it. Generally less than patchy under 10,500 on that side.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Feedback on 07/05/2011 15:44:42 MDT Print View

Morgan, sometimes it can be quite helpful if you can put snow coverage into numbers. As an example, it would mean something if you said that at 10,000 feet there was 10% snow coverage, and at 12,000 feet there was 95% coverage. I know it is only an estimate.