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JMT S->N Start Date/Snowpack??
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Bradley Jay
(standupdouble) - F
JMT S->N Start Date/Snowpack?? on 02/27/2012 14:42:25 MST Print View

Hi Everyone,

I'm writing from Brooklyn New York and am trying to figure out an appropriate start date for the JMT? I have read many reports about how the snowpack this season be historically low. However, I am not familiar with the area and have read conflicting reports regarding how this will impact start dates this season. I would like to start as early as possible [last week of june being the latest]. While I know that there is still quite a bit of winter left assuming things continue as they have been going how early could I start. Is first 1st or 2nd week of June crazy? I'm not looking to bring crampons/ice axe...

As far as permits are concerned I am familiar with the reservation situations.

Thanks for the input in advance.


Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Re: JMT S->N Start Date/Snowpack?? on 02/27/2012 16:32:56 MST Print View

It's still to early to predict. The winter of 1990-91 was way worse than this one. Mammoth Mountain had only received 4' of total snow before March. (This year they've seen 10' total). Then March Madness happened with 15' of snow, plus some in April and May.

If early June is your only option then I suggest going N-S instead. You won't have trouble with a walk-in permit. If the Spring snowfall picks up you might need to make some route changes, but it would still be an awesome trip.

Jim Fitzgerald
(jimfitz12000) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
2012 Sierra snow on 02/27/2012 16:50:20 MST Print View

There have been several recent threads on this subject.

I was in the Sierra a week ago. Having been in the Sierra (mainly summer, but some winter) for over 50 years; following Sierra snow reports; reading Sierra long-range weather forecasts; etc., it appears this will be a low snowfall year, but "low" is a relative term.

2012 is a La Nina year, but 2011 was also a La Nina year. Last winter, Arctic Oscillation, predicted two weeks out, prevailed and resulted in very heavy snowfall. There is still time for a "Pineapple Express" condition to set up and dump significant snow.

March, April and May (yes - May) often are significant Sierra snow months. Total snow is part of the summer "hike ability" equation - the other part is snowmelt: when melting starts, snowmelt rate, etc. Snowmelt also determines mosquito hatch.

Last year, snowmelt started late April/May and then snowstorms with cold weather would arrive and stop the melting process. Last summer, high passes were snowbound well into July. I went over Forester Pass mid September last summer and hiked through snowfields.

Consider starting at Yosemite and going over high passes later in your hike; more time for snow, if any, to melt. There are many threads on this subject: day hike from TM to Happy Isles, etc.

Late June is better than early June.

Do not bring crampons and ice axe. By early/mid June, PCT through hikers will have cut defined paths through snowfields, if any. In the unlikely event snowfields are frozen, just wait until sun softens the snow.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
JMT timing on 02/27/2012 17:53:12 MST Print View

I would do the trip as late in June as possible. There is no reason to push it earlier unless you like snow and high stream crossing or you have no other choice. Can you do it earlier, sure, PCT hikers do it every year in early June. But they have also had 700 miles to toughen up and generally a more flexible schedule than the typical JMT hiker.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: 2012 Sierra snow on 02/27/2012 18:57:19 MST Print View

Big system coming in this week. Could be like last March, wet.