Thousand Island Lake, 10/16-18

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Thousand Island Lake, 10/16-18

Postby Staley » Mon Oct 25, 2010 11:21 pm

Not ski related, but since I saw 2 ski resorts and it snowed a bit, I figure this is worth posting.

I had a 2-day Fall Break from school, so I decided to head to the Ansel Adams Wilderness (near Mammoth and Yosemite) for a camping trip at Thousand Island Lake. After leaving Claremont at 3:00am on Saturday morning, we had our permit and arrived at the Rock Creek Trailhead near June Mountain around 10:00am. Following a 4000 vertical foot slog over just 4 miles with a 60 pound women's pack, I decided I should probably get my own equipment. After the climb, we had 3 relatively flat miles of gorgeous mountain views and alpine lakes before reaching our objective: Thousand Island Lake.
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Thousand Island Lake is quite large and sits at the base of Mount Ritter (13,149 ft) and Banner Peak (12,936 ft). The initial objective was to climb both Ritter and Banner, but as soon as we saw snow in the forecast, I realized it probably wouldn't be possible.

Thousand Island Lake has an elevation of about 10,000 ft, so the first night was understandably cold, but at least dry. The NWS was calling for snow starting at about 8500 ft, so we went to sleep expecting a nice coat of snow the following morning. Unfortunately, they completely missed the snow level and there was freezing rain the entire time up to about 10,200 ft, leaving us completely soaked and frozen. Nevertheless, we decided to start up toward Banner and Ritter, but a thunderstorm and blizzard turned us around fairly quickly. After spending 30 out of 36 hours in a tiny, wet tent, we decided to head back a day early on Monday. After hiking back down in heavy fog and more freezing rain, we ate at the Whoa Nellie Deli in Lee Vining, which I highly recommended if you're ever nearby and the road is open. We stopped by some hot springs near Mammoth to warm up before heading back to school.

Although I did not get the classic views due to the weather, we still got a fairly nice sunset the first day and it's always nice to get away from LA and into the wilderness. Conditions weren't great for pictures, my tiny point and shoot was struggling, and Facebook further destroyed the quality, but all in all, I think these turned out fairly well.

Pink Whitney on the drive up
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The pack, which had another pack strapped to it...
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June Mountain: J7
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FUNicular ... this was the easy part of the climb
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Banner and Ritter
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Pretty reflection
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Mammoth
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More reflecting
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Lake of many isles
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Unknown foggy lake
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Re: Thousand Island Lake, 10/16-18

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Oct 26, 2010 3:00 am

Very impressive photos IMHO.
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Re: Thousand Island Lake, 10/16-18

Postby rfarren » Tue Oct 26, 2010 6:54 am

Gorgeous! Absolutely gorgeous!!!

I notice that the Sierra seem more dramatic than the rockies, in some cases (Whitney) they look more like the austrian alps (with huge spines/ridges). Are they a younger range?
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Re: Thousand Island Lake, 10/16-18

Postby rsmith » Tue Oct 26, 2010 12:08 pm

From what I can gather the Sierra uplift (4-10M years ago) started well after the Rockies (65-100M years ago). The youngest Rockies range (Tetons) started to uplift ~9M years ago.

There is a fascinating study of range ruggedness at http://www.peaklist.org/spire/rug/rugged-ranges.html. The relative numbers they derive (DRS) are what you would expect, with the large-scale comparison of the Sierra (94) vs Colorado (72). On smaller sample sizes the difference becomes more pronounced - Sierra (142) vs Colorado (95). Compare this with the Alps at 200 or the Nepal Himalaya at 307 for the larger Colorado-scale. Note that the Rockies become significantly more rugged in Canada (165 at the larger Colorado-scale).

The Wasatch, a relatively tiny sub-range, clocks in at 89 for it's entirety: http://www.peaklist.org/spire/rug/wasatch.html.

Anecdotally, climbing a range's peaks gives you a good idea of relative ruggedness. Where I grew up (the Wasatch Front and Southwestern Colorado) there wasn't a single peak I couldn't walk up with my tennis shoes. There are many peaks in the Sierra (in the Palisades, for example) that you simply cannot ascend without multi-pitch, technical rock climbing.

As an aside, the best ski terrain in the Sierra Nevada will never be developed due to remoteness and ecological protection. There are many areas (such as Mineral King, Evolution Valley, the Sawtooth Ridge, etc., etc.) that IMO would offer terrain, scenery, vertical and scope beyond any ski resort in the U.S. - I imagine they would compete well with the best and largest Alpine resorts (with much more snow).
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Re: Thousand Island Lake, 10/16-18

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Oct 26, 2010 9:55 pm

Fascinating, no kidding. That measure really does fit well with subjective visual impact. For the medium scale where Sierra is 125 and Colorado 84, the Alps score 216 and South Island New Zealand 165 (on one of the graphs).

In SoCal, the obvious high relief peak is San Jacinto. I was curious to see if it made California's top 10 list, which it did at #6. San Jacinto's RORS of 494 is just above Utah's highest (West Temple Zion 484) and considerably above Colorado's highest (Pyramid Peak 394). Rfarren should note that #1 in the Alps is the Eiger at 977. La Meije at La Grave was #9 in the Alps at 743.

I saw Mineral King from a distance in June 2006. viewtopic.php?f=3&t=2166 It is far enough south for snowfall to be possibly declining to no more than 300 inches average. I'm guessing the Sierra ski terrain of rsmith's dreams might be between Tioga and Sonora passes. Sierra Crest there is at 12,000+ but far enough north to be getting 400+ inches.
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Re: Thousand Island Lake, 10/16-18

Postby snowave » Wed Nov 10, 2010 1:58 am

excellent!
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