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[pct-l] Snow trips
> a Snowy PCT?? Myself and several other hikers on this list did the
> in early to mid-may on a light snow year back in 1977. Bad news was nature
> decided to make up for lost time during late spring making for a real "
> Interesting" time thru this section. Ice axes are a must on snowy year,
Exactly right. You can't bank on a light snow year. I was one of Monte's
compatriots in '77 (although I'm compelled to point out that he never caught
up to us!). When we left Weldon (the entry point to the Sierra before the
PCT moved eastward to Kennedy Meadows) on May 3, the Sierra was completely
dry; there was no snow anywhere. (The entire winter had been dry. For a
snow/ice training exercise, we climbed Mt. Langley in December of 1976.
There was no snow to be found, even at 14,000 feet!) Over three feet fell
starting on May 6--and that changed _everything_! (It also snowed on May 7,
8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, 23, and 24.)
A lot of PCT hikers--including us--were forced out of the Sierra and went up
395 for some or all of the distance from Lone Pine to Tuolumne. (We were on
395 from Bishop to Mammoth.) We hated to miss part of the Sierra--one of the
true highlights of the PCT--on our thru hike, but we really felt badly for
the thru hikers who missed that experience altogether. At least we had hiked
the JMT in '73 and have trekked most of the rest of the Sierra PCT either
before or since.
Expert advice? Have snowshoes, instep crampons, and an ice axe--and know how
to use them before you go. Know how to use map and compass to follow a
route, because you might not see a trail or even blazes. If you don't have
these qualifications--along with clothing and shelter to keep you warm and
enough food and fuel to make it to your next drop--you'll have to bail out
to the east side. Keep in mind also that in heavy snow you're likely to
cover only half (or less) of the mileage you would otherwise, and that
places like VVR, Reds Meadow, etc., are likely to be closed.
1977 Kelty Kid