Snow and snow gear

It will not be easy in the high mountains this year, that’s for sure! I think that now and then the hiking will go over into mountaineering. At this point the current snowpack for the entire Sierra’s is at 155%. That’s a lot! The image below shows the current snowpack (blue line) in comparison with the snowpack in 2011 (red line), which was a record snowyear.

South: Kennedy Meadows to Sonora Pass, Central: Sonora Pass to Lassen NP, North: Lassen NP to Trinity Alps

So more or less we’ll have the same situation under our feet this year. To other 2017 hikers: YES, people got through in 2011 so this year people will get through as well! It will not be a walk in the park but isn’t this one of the reasons why we want to be outdoors for 5 months? If it would be too easy, it would be less memorable!

I am trying to decide what the right snow gear will be this year. Normally speaking micro-spikes should do the job but I am seriously considering to get crampons. The biggest reason to go for crampons will be the length of the spikes. I am looking at products from the Kathoola company. Both are designed to use with trailrunners or normal boots. Their micro-spikes have a length of 3/8 inch (0.9 cm), the spikes on the K10 crampons are twice as long. Especially on steep slopes with an icy underground this could prove to be the better option. The downsize is the weight, crampons being twice as heavy as the micro-spikes.

Micro-spikes or crampons? The dilemma…

As for the ice-axe, I guess I’d better buy one in case I would need it to secure my life. Only problem, I’ve never used this and I think it’s quite useless if you don’t know how to use it. The main purpose of an ice-axe will be to self-arrest. Self-arrest means that you stop yourself when sliding down a snowy or icy slope. You can take mountain classes for that but since I am from Belgium these classes are not around the corner. I guess I will throw myself from some small, harmless slopes once I hit the snow in the Sierra’s to get a feel of it. I’ve checked some video’s on youtube but that’s information, not the real deal. Anyway, I’m gonna go for the Black Diamond Raven Ice Axe.

Where should I send these pieces of extra gear? Well, I’ll definitely need them in the high Sierra’s so I will send these up to Kennedy Meadows which is at mile 702. But this being a high snowyear there are some places in southern California where snow gear might be needed. The San Jacinto area just past Idyllwild (mile 179) and Mt. Baden Powell just past Wrightwood (mile 369) are tricky area’s with lots of snow even in late May. It’s at least another 5 weeks before I will start to hit these area’s so it’s hard to anticipate at this point. I’ll definitely keep a close look on the snow report PDF from the website and will decide as I get closer to my starting date.

That’s it for now, talk to you soon!

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