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[pct-l] re Sierra snow

Sun, 04 Jan 1998 John Drollette shaped electrons to say:

>What is it about the Sierra snow that discourages folks from traversing long
>stretches of it during a thru-hike?  Is it postholing, sleeping on snow,
>exposed steep snow pitches, avy danger, or what?  
I think that most PCT hikers are not experienced snow travelers, and are
thus understandably concerned about the snow. 

Navigation in the High Sierra is not all that difficult for someone used to
winter mountain travel. Avilanche danger is minimal, because the snow had
had a long time to stabilize, though I have seen some melt avilanches.
Postholing is not much of a problem, but sun cups are. Sleeping in the snow
is not much of a problem, because you generally can get back down to snow
free ground at least once a day.

In general, you will move about 30-50% slower, and you will have to work
much harder for each mile. When you get back to dry ground you will be
happy to just have to put one foot in front of the other. You will need to
carry much more food per mile (and thus weight). You will definitely need
an ice axe, mostly for self arrest, but maybe to chop some steps, 'cause I
don't think that crampons are worth the weight.

Have a look at http://www.gorp.com/pcta/list/iceaxe.txt and
http://www.gorp.com/pcta/list/iceaxe2.txt  from the page
http://www.gorp.com/pcta/listarc.htm for a more complete discussion of this.

The real danger is snow melt. Drowning in the sream crossoings is a very
real danger. 
Brick Robbins
San Diego, CA          

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