Saturday, June 25, 2016

Sonora Pass of Death

Day 79 - June 23
Mile: 1005.9 to 1017.9
up/down: 3000/2200

New Alpine County bird: Red Crossbill 

Well, not really death but it was hairy for a while. After the week we had in this section, we would expect no less. 

Right out of camp we started the big climb to the crest coming to giant snow fields almost immediately. Up we went, from 9000 to over 10500 pretty quickly. And then we were on the crest, and stayed there for miles. The views just kept coming and had it not been for the wind it would have been one of the best days of the trip. But wind there was and it was brutal - 50 mph at times doing its best to knock us off the mountain. We pushed on through the ins and outs of the crest doing our best to enjoy the experience.

Finally we were at the end of the ridge with nothing left but the thousand foot drop to Sonora Pass, Hwy 108, and our good friends Ron and Nancy for a resupply and afternoon picnic. First, the descent. It started as dirt trail then switchbacked into a giant snow bowl. There appeared to be reasonable traverse with steps kicked in to the top to reach a glissade. But an accident in the group going down before us had destroyed the traverse (thankfully nobody was seriously hurt). We tried to get across but it was too dangerous. Plan B. I turned us around and we went back to dirt. Then we carefully picked our way down a loose and steep knife edge of rocks until we were below the messed up snow from the accident. I kicked new steps into the face until we reached the traverse and were able to get to the glissade. From there on it was fairly routine sliding and kick stepping down until we reached the bottom. Another half mile and we were at the road. 

Looking back up at the face we came down. The trail comes over just right of the peak. 


Ron and Nancy put on a big picnic spread that even filled up Susan (she says she eats like a starving dog when given the opportunity). We enjoyed our afternoon together but had to get away from the roadside picnic area for the evening. Luckily we only had to walk a mile to find a nice camp with water and wind protection. And the views are stunning. Next up is South Lake Tahoe in 4 days. 

Thank you so much Ron and Nancy for everything you've done for us. 


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