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03-23-2005, 06:33 PM #1happy
- Join Date
- Nov 2003
- Redwood City-ish
To go or not to go?? Pear Lake Hut--->this weekend?
So Telenater and I have a 5 day, 3 night trip (including two days of travel) to the Pear Lake Hut in the Western part of the Sierras, starting at Lodgepole. It's been dumping, and I'm concerned about the conditions down there. There is a 6-mile skin to the hut, over something like 2,500 feet up. There is supposed to be a smaller storm coming in on Monday-ish, with a 20 percent chance of precipitation. I'm concerned about route-finding, snowpack (fresh snow + wind = possible disaster in various types of terrain), and the fact that I've never done a hut trip such as this. I'm also concerned that there are only two of us.
03-23-2005, 07:04 PM #2
sounds like you've just answered your own question. you don't know the terrain well, a storm may provide you with whiteout conditions and you are uncomfortable with group, travel, conditions, etc. i'd save my first hut trip for good vis.
a level of comfort is soemthing i enjoy on most outings. if you feel like you will be on edge the whole time then you're not likely to have fun. just my opinion.
03-23-2005, 11:15 PM #3
If the approach is in low avy hazard terrain, I would go and make the call on go/no go as I did the approach.
If the ski terrain around the hut is exclusively dangerous terrain and you will be stuck in the hut, then scrap it. But if there is some tree skiing around that is safe, then go take a look.
I've been on several hut trips where I didn't know the terrain and it was white out dumping. I just make the approach to the hut (safe approach) and ski around exploring safe terrain, etc.
03-23-2005, 11:49 PM #4Originally Posted by AltaPowderDaze
Disclaimer----> I don't know backcountry, but I know common sense.Aliases: B-Dub, B-Dubya, & B. White
03-24-2005, 09:09 AM #5
Does the route cross avalanche terrain? Does it take you above treeline?
If no to both questions, then go. If yes, then you need to rethink things. In any case, it could be a hell of an adventure if you can mitigate risks caused by the weather.
Make sure your Map/compass/altimeter or GPS skills are tight.
One thing is for sure: make 'nater break trail. Okay, two things: beer is heavy, bring whiskey.
03-24-2005, 10:02 AM #6
We won't be making the call for sure until tomorrow.
I haven't been in the area before either, but am meeting with a coworker this morning who spent several years doing snow pack studies in the immediate area.
My map and compass skills are sharp and I'll be taking a GPS along to supplement (I work with GPSs at work but virtually never use them for navigation when recreating).
My primary concern is that there is very little available avy information for the area. Much of the area around the hut is definite avy territory including sections of the route in. Some of those potential avy paths are nearly impossible to avoid entirely but exposure can be limited. And the area around the hut for skiing is marvelous when stability is good, but low angle trees are virtually nonexistent (and I can ski those closer to here).
The forecasted weather is as DG described, but more than the potential storm on Sunday evening, I'm concerned about the 10F uptick on the predicted temps Saturday and Sunday during the day with continuing mid 40F hight temps through the end of our stay. This temperature increase with the probable heavy windloading concerns me. Given another couple days to settle, I'd be feel far more comfortable with the snowpack (ie heading in when we're supposed to be comming back).
I was positive about going last night when DG and I were doing equipment/food planning, but I'm seriously on the fence. I believe we can be acceptibly safe getting to the hut, but we may be limited to marginal terrain making the trip a rather long one for not much return."if the city is visibly one of humankind's greatest achievements, its uncontrolled evolution also can lead to desecration of both nature and the human spirit."
-- Melvin G. Marcus 1979
03-24-2005, 10:12 AM #7Registered User
- Join Date
- Mar 2005
That is a very popular trail, and there are at least 6 other people with reservations for the hut. I have almost always had a broken trail to follow, at least to the top of the Hump. And route finding to the top of the Hump is very straight forward, just follow the yellow triangles on the tees. That part of the valley can get quite foggy, however. And if there isn't a broken trail, well, it can (will) be an ass-kicker. From Heather Lake there are a couple of options depending on conditions. The lower route is the safest, but not as well marked as the earlier sections of the route. There is some awesome skiing terrain around the hut. Most of the really good stuff is up high, towards Skier's Alta, and you are right to be concerned about conditions. There are some smaller, more protected runs in the trees too.
We skied in to Pear Lake on President's Day weekend with a group of 10, spent the night in our tents in a blizzard, and later found out that the party of 10 with hut reservations never showed. We could have been living it up in the hut, instead of cramped in our tents. Oh well.
We might be up there doing day trips out of the Lodgepole campground Mon and Tue. It's that or Ostrander Hut, haven't decided yet. There is a good run called the Soccer Field on the ridge between Heather and Emerald Lakes. Takes us about 3+ hours to get to it from Wolverton with day packs. There are also good runs to climbers right at the top of the Hump.
I say go for it. At least go to Lodgepole, where the camping is free and the bathrooms are heated, and check it out from there. If there is a broken trail at Wolverton, then head in. If not, then reassess. Chances are if you wait a while, someone else will show up to help break trail. The hut is in a beautiful location, you can undoubtedly find something relatively safe to ski, and who knows, if everyone else bails you might have it all to yourself.
03-24-2005, 10:17 AM #8Registered User
- Join Date
- Mar 2005
Looks like we were writing our posts at the same time. Sounds like you have an excellent grasp on the situation there, and your last line sums it up well. I don't know where you live, but for us, here on the Central Coast, SEKI is the closest bc skiing, so we probably have a little different outlook.
Have fun this weekend, wherever you end up.
03-24-2005, 07:52 PM #9
FWIW... I've been to the Pear Lake hut a few times, thought I would add my $0.02. After The Hump, there are probably two questionable slopes if you take the "high" route, which is basically a traverse across a bunch of different aspects, some are what I would consider steep enough to be slide prone if other factors are present. The "low" route is somewhat safer as it takes you lower, away from these slopes, and then you hump back up some extra vert to the hut. Two of three times I've been there it was foggy around heather lake (the area where you choose high or low). If you are an experienced routefinder, you shouldn't have problems, but pay attention to those slope pitches above you on the topo if you take the traverse. Once at the hut, I would say you would have some "safe" terrain to choose from, unless avy conditions are pretty bad, and then you probably woud have decided to punt anyway. The hut is kind of in an ampitheater, with The Tablelands area to lookers left and skier's Alta peak a little to the right. Many different aspects to choose from. If you decide to go, have fun! We applied for a the lottery this year and got the Heisman. Oh, one more thing... if its sunny and warm, wet slides will be a concern, as most of the skiable terrain is getting sun most of the day. One year we were there when temps were above freezing at night.... kind of scary.