Wallowas, polaris pass loop - July 9, 2019

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retired jerry
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Wallowas, polaris pass loop - July 9, 2019

Post by retired jerry » July 14th, 2019, 6:46 am

The plan was to go Aneroid Lake, Polaris Pass, Frazier Lake, Eagle Cap, Lakes Basin

We did Polaris pass okay but getting up to Frazier Lake was too much snow, so we went back and up to Ice Lake as a consolation.

Above Aneroid up to Tenderfoot Pass was mostly snow covered. We went around it to the right which was mostly snow free:
20190709_095309.jpg
Met Gary from Mosier at Tenderfoot Pass. And at Ice Lake. And... with Doug:
20190709_105531.jpg
Trail to Polaris Pass was mostly snow free. A few snow fields that were easily crossed, no need for traction device or ice axe or anything. Perfect spring snow.

Climbing over cornice at Polaris Pass:
20190709_125903.jpg
You can zoom in on Doug doing the last 10 feet. It's vertical, but the snow is soft. I jammed in my fingers going over. Doug jammed in his trekking pole.

Eagle Cap from Polaris Pass:
20190709_132257.jpg
Eagle Cap is a bit to the right of the center of picture. Below it is Glacier Lake. Lots of snow.

The trail down from Polaris Pass was sketchy, especially the first 100 feet or so. Fairly steep trail sideways with loose rocks. Easy to start sliding and not stop. No snow. It would be easier to walk up I bet.

Down at West Fork Wallowa, trail up to Frazier Lake, totally snow covered. We just turned around:
20190709_164715.jpg
At about the center of the picture there's a coyote. It just walked by. When it saw the people with the dog the coyote quickly left the area. The people with the dog said it (the dog) was acting weird.

I suspect a more adventurous person would have just continued up Frazier Lake, Glacier Lake, Eagle Cap, Lake basin - there'd be a lot of walking on snow, but it's perfect spring snow. Two other groups of people turned around here also.

Camped at junction to Lake Basin. Reports of people hiking up to Lakes Basin pretty easily. But lots of snow when you get to top of Lakes Basin.

Went up to Ice Lake. Totally snow free until the lake. A number of people camping there. I believe that's Matterhorn and Sacajawea in background. I think it would be straightforward getting up there:
20190710_151349.jpg
So, in summary, by the time someone read this and got up there, if willing to walk on some snow around Glacier Lake, I think that entire loop would be doable. Wait a couple weeks and there'd be a lot less snow.

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retired jerry
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Re: Wallowas, polaris pass loop - July 9, 2019

Post by retired jerry » July 14th, 2019, 6:52 am

my favorite NOHRSC snow model depiction is http://adamschneider.net/hiking/snow_depth.html

the NOHRSC said the snow melted completely off everywhere on my loop, but there was still snow at Tenderfoot Pass, Polaris Pass, and especially the Glacier Lake/upper Lakes Basin.

So, I guess that's how to interpret to snow model data. Wait until its says no snow and there'll still be snow, but probably manageable. Wait a couple weeks and it'll be better.

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Bosterson
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Re: Wallowas, polaris pass loop - July 9, 2019

Post by Bosterson » July 14th, 2019, 9:24 am

Cool Jerry. I've never tried to get to those central high areas this early - usually they melt out by the end of July, but might be early August with this year's snow pack. How were the bugs out there now?
retired jerry wrote:I believe that's Matterhorn and Sacajawea in background
Matterhorn is the gray bump in the back center. Sacajawea would be hidden behind Hurwal Divide off your right; you can't see it from Ice Lake.
Will hike off trail for fun.

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teachpdx
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Re: Wallowas, polaris pass loop - July 9, 2019

Post by teachpdx » July 15th, 2019, 8:03 am

Thanks for the report, Jerry.

I'll be up there in two weeks, and I am hoping that's enough time for much of the snow to melt.

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MariposaMan
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Re: Wallowas, polaris pass loop - July 9, 2019

Post by MariposaMan » July 18th, 2019, 3:55 pm

Thanks for the report. Good to have info on snow levels, as I plan to visit the Eagle Cap in a couple of weeks.

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Re: Wallowas, polaris pass loop - July 9, 2019

Post by sparklehorse » July 25th, 2019, 9:18 am

Thanks for the report Jerry! Helpful info as I'm also headed that way in a couple weeks. Can you tell me more about the hike down from Polaris Pass?

What you wrote really got my attention:

"The trail down from Polaris Pass was sketchy, especially the first 100 feet or so. Fairly steep trail sideways with loose rocks. Easy to start sliding and not stop. No snow. It would be easier to walk up I bet."

Do you mean the first 100 feet of trail? Or the first 100 feet of elevation loss?

I guess my main concern is my dog. Do you think that stretch is relatively safe for a fairly athletic German Shepherd? Or would it be risky for a dog to try to navigate that stretch? I realize it's a tough question to answer, just looking for your opinion/thoughts.

Thanks!!
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retired jerry
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Re: Wallowas, polaris pass loop - July 9, 2019

Post by retired jerry » July 25th, 2019, 11:07 am

100 feet of elevation. Maybe a few 100 feet, but it's really just the beginning

I bet your dog would scamper down without a problem. Maybe have a leash on him?

When we looked down it, initially, we couldn't see where the trail went. It looked impossibly treacherous. Thinking about turning back. Besides, we could see the Glacier Lake basin/pass was probably too much snow so were thinking about going the other direction.

But then we just started down and it was doable. Went slow and careful. The slope starts easing up fairly quickly.

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Re: Wallowas, polaris pass loop - July 9, 2019

Post by sparklehorse » July 25th, 2019, 9:53 pm

Thanks Jerry!
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Re: Wallowas, polaris pass loop - July 9, 2019

Post by SCtoPDX » July 26th, 2019, 1:07 pm

sparklehorse wrote:
July 25th, 2019, 9:18 am
Thanks for the report Jerry! Helpful info as I'm also headed that way in a couple weeks. Can you tell me more about the hike down from Polaris Pass?

What you wrote really got my attention:

"The trail down from Polaris Pass was sketchy, especially the first 100 feet or so. Fairly steep trail sideways with loose rocks. Easy to start sliding and not stop. No snow. It would be easier to walk up I bet."

Do you mean the first 100 feet of trail? Or the first 100 feet of elevation loss?

I guess my main concern is my dog. Do you think that stretch is relatively safe for a fairly athletic German Shepherd? Or would it be risky for a dog to try to navigate that stretch? I realize it's a tough question to answer, just looking for your opinion/thoughts.

Thanks!!
I've done that pass twice now...not sketchy at all. The first 200'-300' EG loss is on loose, unstable, SHARP talus. Although I've not done it with the dog, bring booties for him /her. I would actually recommend leaving the dog unleashed as you might move rocks onto the dogs feet. PM me for more beta. Have a great trip!
Ian

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retired jerry
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Re: Wallowas, polaris pass loop - July 9, 2019

Post by retired jerry » July 26th, 2019, 1:28 pm

thanks, that is good feedback, I won't disagree

maybe I'm being a little more conservative. I think some people would not want to do this. Once you start walking down it it really isn't so bad.

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