Jan 20, 2017 at 2:58 pm #3446264
I took advantage of good weather and health, and squeezed a quickie in in late September.
I met fellow BPL’er Robert Perkins mid-Sierra, and together, we went traversed the Kings-Kern divide via an avalanche chute near Lake Reflection, then wandered around the upper Kern basin before retreating over Forester, and returning to our respective sides of the Sierra.
Link to TR and a few pics to follow.Jan 20, 2017 at 2:59 pm #3446265
I’m not brave enough to type an entire trip report into BPL, so it’s downloadable as a PDF here: https://ontheswitchbacks.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/kingskern.pdf
Ignore the slightly funny formatting (blank pages) and page numbers. This is actually an excerpt from a larger volume that I’m having printed to a physical paperback to send to me grandmama (yes, seriously). The format does read relatively nicely from a tablet or phone, so that’s a plus.
Some eye-candy below; the entire photo album is here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/albums/72157674861236006/with/29575067053/
Also, since this is BPL, packlist for the gearheads is here: https://ontheswitchbacks.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/roads-end-september-2016.pdf
East Lake sunrise
Atop the divide; Lake Reflection below
The view from the top of the divide #HighSierraPorn
Ridge-walking along the divide, to inspect Lucys Foot Pass
The Upper Kern is a wonderful place to explore
Racing weather over ForesterJan 20, 2017 at 4:31 pm #3446281Alex WallaceBPL Member
@feetfirstLocale: Sierra Nevada North
Wonderful! Thanks for sharing.Jan 20, 2017 at 6:55 pm #3446303
is this ‘avalanche chute’ also known as ‘little joe’s pass’?Jan 20, 2017 at 7:26 pm #3446307
is this ‘avalanche chute’ also known as ‘little joe’s pass’?
Yes–I think in my pre-trip Googling, I found it referred to as “Little Joe’s Pass”, “Weyman(‘s) Chute”, or just “An unnamed avalanche chute”. I believe all are referring to the same route/pass.
I went with “unnamed”, not wanting to step on either Weyman or Little Joe’s toes.Jan 20, 2017 at 8:22 pm #3446316AnonymousInactive
Very cool, Adam. The Upper Kern is about as good as it gets, IMHO. Thanks for taking us along for the ride!Jan 21, 2017 at 6:39 pm #3446440
and how did you find lil joe / mr chute?
in my own bit of googling i mostly found it just listed as another option with milly, lucy and the gang. not much about its relative difficulty.Jan 21, 2017 at 7:52 pm #3446451matthew kModerator
Adam, thanks for sharing your trip report. That was easily one of the most enjoyable trip reports I’ve read.
Also, you are a good grandson.Jan 21, 2017 at 10:50 pm #3446474Cameron MBPL Member
@cameronm-aka-backstrokeLocale: Los Angeles
Nice, thanks for sharing!Jan 21, 2017 at 11:33 pm #3446478
The Upper Kern is about as good as it gets, IMHO.
Yeah, there are just a LOT of nooks and crannies to explore in there. The purpose of this trip was primarily to see Lake Reflection, traverse the divide, see Lake South America, and wander around the Upper Kern Basin just a bit–we obviously just skimmed the surface. I think it would make a great basecamp for a few days. TONS of lakes, peaks, passes to scramble around. I suspect my drive to go see it was due in no small part to some of your comments and trip reports that I’ve read on here, so thanks for all your contributions!
ben . said:
and how did you find lil joe / mr chute?
My take: it was efficient, with minimal exposure, and fun hands-and-feet climbing.
Robert deserves the credit for navigating to the base of the chute; the approach he chose had a minimal amount of talus, and was quick and painless. While ascending the chute, the navigation was pretty straightforward, but there’s at least one bifurcation that can leave the hiker wondering which fork to choose. We think we probably ended up on slightly more difficult terrain due to our choice at that bifurcation, but it remained Class 2(ish), albeit a little trickier. After a few hundred feed, we rejoined the main chute, and from there, it was easy sailing to the top.
As far as the alternatives: other folks are definitely a better source than I, since I’ve been over just one. We based our decision on web-based research and Secor, and we just didn’t read great things about any of the alternatives. Here are a few resources:
A BPL thread (with great input from SME Tom Kirchner) that influenced our decision is here: https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/50068/
Piero Scaruffi nudged us in the direction of the chute, here: http://www.scaruffi.com/travel/ericsson.html
Leor Pantilat also calls the chute the “second easiest way” over the divide (after Forester, of course): https://pantilat.wordpress.com/tag/lake-reflectio/
All are trivial from the south side (perhaps Millys is a little less trivial, since it involves ~250 vertical feet of Class 2, whereas the others are essentially Class 1). I stood atop Millys Foot and Lucys Foot on this trip, and looked down their north sides (really, faces). Neither looked inviting. There are photos of both in the Flickr album, and although it’s hard to discern grade from a photo, both are extremely steep at the top. I would call them firmly Class 3, due to the grade (and consequential exposure). The surface did not look great on either; Leor (perhaps among others) warned of kitty litter on the rock on Millys Foot Pass.Jan 22, 2017 at 9:34 am #3446496AnonymousInactive
“The surface did not look great on either; Leor (perhaps among others) warned of kitty litter on the rock on Millys Foot Pass.”
Exactly why I backed off on Milly’s in particular, and chose Thunder Col instead when heading back to Roads End via Sphinx Lakes long ago. Lucys is just downright dangerous. Given the alternatives, it would be a little unwise to choose it, unless you happen to be a real adrenaline junkie with a penchant for life(short) on the edge.
I see Milestone Basin/Pass/Bowl in your future, Adam. ;0)
I really enjoyed your stream of consciousness narrative, by the way. It conveyed beautifully the effect roaming off trail in the High Sierra has on that subset of us who respond to the siren call.Jan 23, 2017 at 9:50 am #3446694
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