Conness in late May
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christopher smead
(hamsterfish) - MLife

Locale: hamsterfish
Conness in late May on 05/13/2014 10:21:31 MDT Print View

Anyone been up to Mt Conness lately? I'm considering trying it late this month from Young lakes.
I'm hoping to pull it off with microspikes.
Any tips on this climb?

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Conness in late May on 05/13/2014 10:31:55 MDT Print View

Which route are you taking?

--B.G.--

christopher smead
(hamsterfish) - MLife

Locale: hamsterfish
South side on 05/13/2014 11:08:48 MDT Print View

South side from Young lakes. It's supposed to be class 2/3...but I heard there's still some ice up there that may make it harder...

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: South side on 05/13/2014 11:43:42 MDT Print View

From the Upper Young Lake, you go up and over to the unnamed lake at 10,600'. If it is frozen, then that is a tipoff of what will come later. Then you go up the steep scree slope to the north. Once above that, you walk up the valley to the base of the rock route. That is where it gets steeper. You clamber over the big rocks to the summit, mostly class 2 with maybe a piece of class 3.

Previously on normal years, that would be free of snow by late July. This year it might be snow free earlier. At the last time that I was up there (September?), new snow was on the rocky part and it looked pretty dicey. Two friends with me had wool gloves, but their hands were too cold to consider continuing over the snow. I had no gloves, but I was able to jab my fingers into the soft snow to stay in contact with the slope. If that had been ice instead of soft snow, I wouldn't have continued to the top.

Although it might be nice to carry an ice axe, it is a pretty bad place to have to use it. If you slide on the snow and ice, you will be off into very steep rocks and cliffs. You might need to carry a couple of titanium potty trowels.

--B.G.--

Paul Wagner
(balzaccom) - F

Locale: Wine Country
Conness on 05/13/2014 12:08:04 MDT Print View

While this climb is not particularly technical, there is enormous exposure on the ridge across to the summit. Steep drops of well over 500 feet on either side...and that ridge is not very wide at all. If it were icy, I would bail on this immediately.

Right now, snow level is somewhere between 8,000 and 9,000 feet. Anything above that will still have snow.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Conness on 05/13/2014 12:40:58 MDT Print View

To put that into perspective, the Middle Young Lake is at 10,000 feet. There is going to be a good amount of snow up there for another month, at least.

--B.G.--

Michael Driscoll
(Hillhikerz) - M

Locale: Monterey Bay
High peak late May Tuolumne on 05/15/2014 09:41:14 MDT Print View

I do not mean to hijack this thread but what about Mt. Lyell... A friend is thinking of joining a group for this run 3 night 4 hiking... she is late 50's been to Whitney with her but she has no snow camping experience or travel I do not believe... l am asking what one should expect to encounter at this time hiking to the top and being a novice; not sure a about the skill level of the rest of the group... TIA

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: High peak late May Tuolumne on 05/15/2014 14:57:55 MDT Print View

I've been up Lyell, but I am no authority on it.

The normal route up Lyell involves leaving the JMT somewhere above Lyell Base Camp, then circling around to the right under the Lyell Glacier. If lucky, the bergschrund will be open so that you can see it and avoid it. If it is covered with a thin layer of snow or ice, it could be a death trap. Once you get under the rock wall, it is a steep rock scramble, although I remember a pitch that was awful with new snow on it. There may be other routes to the summit, but they will likely involve a much longer approach route.

The only problem we had was after we came off the summit and backed down to the top of the glacier. Two of us started to walk around clockwise to retrace the way we had come up. One guy started directly down the glacier, and he had no crampons for the blue ice. Worse, he was carrying an ice axe, but not in the Ready position. Needless to say, he was falling out of control after about 50 steps. He got beaten up pretty badly by the time he stopped halfway down the glacier, so he limped off the bottom under his own power. Kids, don't do this at home!

--B.G.--

christopher smead
(hamsterfish) - MLife

Locale: hamsterfish
Conness on 05/16/2014 23:47:38 MDT Print View

Thanks everyone. I'll be prepared with ice axe and microspikes, if it's too sketchy I'll just hang at young lakes and maybe hit ragged peak if that looks safer.

I'm considering heading up there late the night before my permit reservation.
is there a place to camp near the trailhead?
I take it tuolumne meadows facilities aren't open yet....

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Conness on 05/17/2014 00:17:10 MDT Print View

"is there a place to camp near the trailhead?"

Not exactly.

There are normally legal places, like the T.M. campground, but most stuff will be closed. Traditionally, we would drive on through to the East Side. Once out of the park, we would find some place to camp along the Saddlebag Lake Road, then drive back into the park very early to be standing in line at the permit station.

Do you kind of get the idea that the season is too early?

If the normal route up Mount Conness is really icy, you might want 10- or 12-point crampons, ice axe, and rope to your buddy. It is a bit exposed up there. I would not call it hideous exposure.

--B.G.--

christopher smead
(hamsterfish) - MLife

Locale: hamsterfish
Camping up off 120 on 05/19/2014 12:06:25 MDT Print View

Thanks Bob. Are there obvious places to camp up Saddleback road?
Any tips?

I'll call the ranger today and find out if the road is open.
-Chris

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Camping up off 120 on 05/19/2014 12:47:05 MDT Print View

You won't find any Saddleback Road. However, the road to Saddlebag Lake has a couple of spots, but I have no idea if they are open this early in the season.

You know this is very early season, don't you?

Right where the road to Saddlebag Lake intersects with Highway 120, there is a campground aptly named Junction Campground. Then if you continue toward Saddlebag Lake for 1.5 miles, there is a small campground road on the left.

--B.G.--

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Camping up off 120 on 05/19/2014 14:48:12 MDT Print View

Chris, there are plenty of places to camp along the Hwy 120/Saddlebag Lake Rd. There are about three on Hwy. 120 and there is one along Saddlebag that is a walk in with some awesome views. At Saddlebag Lake there is a campground too

christopher smead
(hamsterfish) - MLife

Locale: hamsterfish
Thanks! on 05/20/2014 02:38:25 MDT Print View

Thanks guys for all the info.
Spoke to a ranger who recommended a place near warren creek.
Btw a storm is coming in, so I'll keep my snowshoes and chains in the car just in case.
Definitely early in the season....but I kinda like it that way. Less crowds and prettier views.
I'm prepared for tough conditions...mostly. The only area I'm pushing it is with the microspikes....
I'm considering some Camp 10 real crampons...

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Thanks! on 05/20/2014 11:26:59 MDT Print View

"Spoke to a ranger who recommended a place near warren creek."

That used to be called Camp Nine, because it was thought to be around 9000 feet elevation. It is where Highway 120 makes a big curve.

--B.G.--

christopher smead
(hamsterfish) - MLife

Locale: hamsterfish
Ragged peak on 05/23/2014 02:05:31 MDT Print View

If Conness is too sketchy I might try ragged peak.
Anyone tried that this time of time of year?

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Ragged peak on 05/23/2014 12:31:34 MDT Print View

The problem is that hardly anybody knows what the conditions are really like this early in the season.

If you are camped at Young Lakes, you can walk up a usage trail from the lower lake to "Ragged Peak Pass." From there, you can attack the rocks more or less on the south side. As I recall, the only place that it gets dicey is the last twenty feet to the top. However, there are big holes between the rocks. Accumulated snow is going to be melted down into those holes, so I wouldn't worry about it.

Alternatively, there are technical routes on the north side.

--B.G.--