Jmt in june

2:03 a.m. on March 26, 2013 (EDT)
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I'm hiking the jmt early june. Does anyone know about snow condition on the trail? Will i need crampons and ice pick? Thanks

8:38 a.m. on March 26, 2013 (EDT)
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As with most trails it will vary by the year, before setting out tou can see the trail conditions here

http://www.pcta.org/discover-the-trail/trail-conditions-and-closures/

8:51 a.m. on March 26, 2013 (EDT)
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Also there is a very active yahoo group forum page that is for the JMT

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/johnmuirtrail/

11:56 a.m. on March 26, 2013 (EDT)
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Early June means the passes will still be in snow, lots of snow.  The outfitters and pack stock will not have gone thru yet.  Some of the drifts can be deep as in ten feet.   The snowpack this year is slightly below average, but the weather in the next few months can make a big difference.  Maybe a pair of small snow shoes with metal cleats would serve you best if you are staying on trails.

I have ridden horses and mules on the JMT trail in late June-early July on first trips out and been in drifts of 6-8 feet.  Water crossings are also challenging at that time due to snowmelt.  I would not plan on being able to cross any rivers or major creeks in early June.  Bring a rope just in case.

11:40 p.m. on March 26, 2013 (EDT)
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Thanks for all the feedback!!

1:52 a.m. on March 28, 2013 (EDT)
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One of the major adventures you have at higher elevations in June/July is 'postholing'.  You foot breaks through a fragile crust and your leg goes down until something stops it.  Some times your hip.

You can get around that by doing most of your snow travel in early morning before it thaws in the later hot sun.

Another misery are sun cups.  You will immediately recognize them. Very much like walking through an expanse of vehicle tires that you have to place a foot awkwardly.

It certainly is doable.  Hardy souls do it every year and the PCT guys are close to winging it about the time you are going to be there. A few passes will tend to stop your heart if deep snow.  Forester's south side at 13,200' is one most have deep gulps about.

As ppine alludes, one of your adventures will the be creak crossings in the first half of the trip (north to south).

If you are thinking of taking crampons then you certainly ought to be expert at using the ice ax.  Crampons allow you to get into terrain that can be dangerous if you fall.  Hence the ax for self arrest.  If you wait to think about using the ax, prepare for a fast run out at the bottom.  As you get closer to your departure date, the rangers ought to give you better advice at the time.  Trek poles and sturdy boots for kicking steps and edging in the snow go a long way towards getting though most of the non-technical snow.

Expect snow above 11,000' even in mid June this year. It won't be 'snow'.  Some call it Sierra Cement - consolidated oft frozen/thawed ice crystals.

12:19 p.m. on March 28, 2013 (EDT)
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Speacock,

I like your logic about crampons/ice axe instead of small snowshoes.  It would increase the safety factor a lot in some situations. 

 

3:19 p.m. on March 28, 2013 (EDT)
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I wouldn't consider traveling the JMT in early June w/o crampons and an axe.  The chance of injury from a slip and slide are too great.  Even a slope grade  equal to a steep trail can result in an unstoppable slide and severe injury.  By the same token I would not use ice tools without proper training.  It is easy to hurt yourself with these things if you do not know how they are used.  For example: When one falls it is tempting and instinctual to attempt to arrest your slide with your feet when sliding feet first. But the crampon spikes can dig in and the momentum of your body will overrun your feet, causing you to get pitched into a tumble.  The tumble itself is dangerous, often resulting in head injuries and broken bones. But you can also end up impaling yourself on spikes or your axe in the process.

Some passes in certain conditions should not be attempted unless you are traveling as a roped team.  Forester and GlenPasses are both very steep; an un-roped climber slipping on the ice of those faces doesn't have a very good chance at self arresting a fall.  In the case of GlenPass that means an eventual, certain, plunge into the icy cold moat at the bottom of the south face, and certain hypothermia, provided you survive the slide.

All that said, this has been a low snow fall year; perhaps there will be minimal snow, unless the normally occurring spring break storm dumps a big one.  As others have said, monitor the various special interest web sites.  Another site to monitor is SummitPost.org.  They probably won't provide much JMT info, but descriptions of the higher points of the trips recorded there will allude to conditions on passes that may go unreported on other web sites.

As for high water stream crossings:
One way to deal with this problem is to attempt to cross early around first light.  Snow runoff will be at its lowest point that time of day.  But if the steam still seems too high don’t attempt crossing; the smart option is finding a safer point to cross further up or down stream.  This could add a day or more to your trip.  In some instances you may have to make BIG alterations in your plans.  One early season trip for me ended with a three day thirty mile detour to avoid high water, and an eventual exit down a completely different, distant, canyon than originally planned.

Ed

3:25 p.m. on March 28, 2013 (EDT)
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I will be doing the Evolution Valley portion of the trail in the Sierra in mid August  My large red Kelty external frame pack will be your warning!

Ed

12:17 p.m. on March 29, 2013 (EDT)
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Whome,

Sounds like you made the right decisions and lived to hike another day.

Years ago I was a hydrologist and monitored streams for a living.  In order to gauge stream discharge (flow) you have to wade them.  The rule of ten is useful.  The velocity in ft/sec times the depth in feet needs to be less than ten.  Estimate velocity by following a few sticks over a known distance over a know length of time.  Fifty feet for fifty seconds for example.

Use a rope, release your waistbelt and carry a pack with only one strap.  First person across ties the rope around their waist with a bowline.

Middle members walk across using the rope as an aid.  Last person comes across with the rope around their waist.  When it doubt go around or turn back.  Mtn streams are cold and people don't last long and remain functional.

 

September 19, 2014
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