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Winter Hiking Yosemite Valley to Merced Lake
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Luke Khuu
Winter Hiking Yosemite Valley to Merced Lake on 12/05/2012 15:59:50 MST Print View

Plan on hiking Yosemite Valley - LYV - Merced Lake on Dec 31- Jan 5. Will there be snow? Will I need snowshoes? Micospikes?

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: Winter Hiking Yosemite Valley to Merced Lake on 12/05/2012 16:33:38 MST Print View

There will be some snow, but hard to tell from now how much there will be. Maybe a little, maybe a lot. So maybe snowshoes, maybe not. Microspikes or other traction devices would definitely be a good idea, though, as the trail up to and down from LYV is likely to be icy.

If you check Badger Pass for snow depth, you can expect somewhat more than that at Merced Lake.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Possible Danger on 12/05/2012 19:02:28 MST Print View

Watch for avalanche danger. I saw firsthand the devastation that they can cause. I have done many snowshoe trip deep in the winter Sierra and while it is extremely cool, be careful. Doing a trip this early could mean unconsolidated snow which will be a chore even with snowshoes. Nobody can answer your questions...... You could see a winter storm dump multiple feet of snow in late December or nothing. If you are in to Sierra hiking check out going in over Kearsarge Pass if rom the east. You can do the Rae Lakes loop or a loop over Junction Pass. My Avatar picture was taken from 13k on Junction Pass in early May. I think April and May are the absolute best times to snowshoe the Sierra. Enjoy.

Ps, some of the trails going to LYV will likely be closed due to ice. Check the park page.

Edited by gg-man on 12/05/2012 19:04:27 MST.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"Winter Hiking Yosemite Valley to Merced Lake" on 12/05/2012 19:27:53 MST Print View

The series of switchbacks at Bunnel Point (sp?)--just after the two bridges that cross the Merced River about five miles up from LY valley campsites--can be dangerous, depending on conditions. For two reasons. First: it's not at all obvious, but there's avalanche danger from above. Study your map here. Second: there's a serious icing problem here. For a very brief section, that's nevertheless dangerous, it can become difficult to get grip without crampons or microspikes. It all depends on how snow and weather unfold. If you're bringing an ice axe, you're fine.

There's also avalanche hazard at the bridges.

There can also be a tricky stretch just before the final bridge re-crossing the Merced a mile and a half or so beyond the switchbacks I just described. It's steep and if icy, and you slip, you go into the Merced just before a series or waterwheels. And there's no way around it. You won't survive. It's a short stretch and soooo enticing because you just know that you're going to make it....

Both of these sections go through freeze/melt cycles that are conducive to ice. The switchbacks are worse: meltwater flows onto them from above during the day, and that freezes at night.

Otherwise this can be a delightful trip, just beautiful, you won't regret it if the weather cooperates! And think about day-tripping up towards Vogelsang pass. Honestly, if you can, plan an extra day for this. It's the best part of the venture; well worth it. You may be surprised at how this south facing, sun exposed section is snow-freeish.

Wait, late Dec.-early Jan. is typically one of the stormiest period in the Sierras.
Seriously check the forecast. Are you familiar with the Sierras in winter? I personally would never set in stone a winter trip in that time frame if I was coming from out of the area.

EDIT: geeze, I forgot: the stretch from Happy Isles to the top of Nevada Falls can be icy, especially along the mist trail! Very steep here, and awful if icy.

Edited by book on 12/05/2012 19:31:54 MST.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Another option on 12/06/2012 18:46:51 MST Print View

There are many great trips out of Hetch Hetchy if you are just getting started on winter camping in the Sierra. The grand-daddy of them all is the 45 mile loop up to Tilden Lake returning through Jack Main Canyon. Falls Creek needs to be crossed but it will have snow bridges after a certain point. There's a bunch of shorter loops or out and back trips as well. That is where I learned how to snowshoe.

christopher smead
(hamsterfish) - MLife

Locale: hamsterfish
Hetch hetchy? on 12/07/2012 23:58:56 MST Print View

Hi Greg, do you have a trip report for that?
I'm very interested in doing that loop sometime soon and want to get as many details as possible.
I'm assuming there's not much snow until you climb a few thousand feet above the resevoir?

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Hetch hetchy? on 12/08/2012 01:14:23 MST Print View

I've seen two inches of fresh snow at Rancheria Falls, which is not far above the reservoir... and that was in summer. I would suggest that the trail around Hetch Hetchy can have snow during any winter storm and it may last for days afterward. In fact, the rangers may block the access road at Camp Mather due to slippery surfaces.


Katy Anderson
(KatyAnderson) - F
Re: Winter Hiking in Yosemite on 03/24/2013 18:14:05 MDT Print View

How did your trip go?