View of Yosemite Falls and Half Dome from the West

More PCT high snow tips

In my last feverish post, I totally missed some really good points about hiking in snow – really crucial stuff like navigation. A 2011 nobo thru-hiker made me aware right away (but doesn’t necessarily want to be credited).

So without further ado here are more tips from someone who has gone through the difficult and uncomfortable, but very survivable process of trudging through the High Sierra in a high snow year:

  • “GPS/phone = major time saver. THERE IS NO TRAIL. Forget the trail being avalanched away. It’s just not there” (until many people walk it first). Learn how to read a map and navigate by it (that is an invaluable link to a precious map-reading resource, BTW). “Carry a paper map back up, because you know, if your GPS takes a dive in a stream crossing… Navigating in trees as you get further north makes it even harder.”
  • Scout creek crossings*. Walk up and down on the side you approach looking for the most sensible crossing. You might be so lucky as to find downed trees you can walk or scoot over. “It takes time. It pays off.”
  • “Microspikes are amazing on wet, slippery logs.”
  • Water is so cold it WILL HURT
  • “Buddy system is imperative, IMO”
  • “Carry enough food to bail 80% deep, as in turn around and walk all the way back.”
  • “Forget being a purist this year.”
  • “Give up all your expectations.”
  • “Snow shoes wouldn’t have made much difference (in June/July). On that much snow, it’s pretty consolidated, so it’s just slippery. Hard on the knees. Sun cups weren’t even that bad yet when we went through. Postholing wasn’t even too awful, honestly. Just miles of snow.

Thanks LoveNote! 😉

snow starts just after trail pass sierraJust after Trail Pass (mile 745) on the north side, BAM! Snow. It continued from there thru to the North Sierra near Sierra City, about 450 miles.
snow blindness high sierra sun bandanaDidn’t have sunglasses. Hurting.
Wanda Lake looking down from Muir Pass, June 25, 2011
falls creek crossing 2011Falls Creek Canyon, near mile 990 of the PCT, showing a particularly difficult crossing (wiped out by the creek). Hikers detoured 6 miles to find a safe crossing.

Like these shots? Need more fuel to fire your stoke? You can see more of LoveNote’s 2011 Sierra photographs here!

Return Creek PCT crossing 2011Return Creek PCT crossing 2011, tricky but not impossible. This good crossing was several miles downstream of the trail crossing.