Forums Trip Reports Pear Lake Hut:Sequioa national Park
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  • #569681
    TEX
    2486 Posts

    Sequoia national Park 1/24/08-1/26/08 Photos by Tex and Dutchmarc

    I got wind of this adventure from San Frantastico. I gave swanny a call and lucky for me he had a spot left . I was going to pear lake.

    There was going to be six of us untill this happened.
    Mike was out but the trip was on. As the day got closer the forecast was calling for snow untill friday…clear saturday and then more snow sunday.
    I had been to sequoia in the summer but never in the winter. I knew this trip was going to be good
    I left work thursday afternoon with rain and the promise of traffic for hours. as I sat in traffic on the I-5 new san Clemente i got a call from Josh, a friend of swanny’s who was going up also. He told me the 5 was closed at the grapevine due to snow and to go to Mojave on the 14 to Bakersfield on the 58 and hook up to the 99 there.
    So the journey continued through the night. I arrived at the park at 2 am after leaving San Diego at 4pm. 😯

    Welcome sign

    I drove through the gate expecting to meet everyone at a lodge room inside the park. However 2 miles up the road from the gate I was stopped by a large tree across the road. I found a nice turn out to park for the nite and retreated to the comforts of the Subara We had a 6am meeting time at the trailhead the following morning and I went to bed knowing I wasnt going to make it.
    Would I be skinning in solo?
    Next morning I made it to the Lodgepole area at 8:30am. I didnt expect to find the group…but they were waitng.

    Game On

    Getting Ready for the 6 mile skin in

    Only one of our group had been to the hut so finding the place was a bit confusing for us. The snow was falling and the light was getting dim. We were about 15 minutes from diggin snow caves for the night and our GPS driven guide Dutchmarc led us in.

    Our arrival

    It didnt take long before the fire was lit and gear was hung

    And food was cooking

    Friday morning the skies were grey and things were still. No wind and a blanket of new snow. We talked and decided to head towards the Matterhorn

    Skinning up

    Dutchmarc Skinning up

    We made a short run only to find the slope angle too low for the new snow. Time to move to something steeper. We skinned up and around the Matterhorn to do a run Dutch had spied

    Storn Drops in

    Dutch

    Josh and Dutch skinning back up

    The change over

    Lines

    We got back to the hut at dark. Vision of Powder danced in our heads

    Saturday

    Woke uo to Sunshine

    We started skining to the east to reach a large hanging snowfield we had spied on Friday. It was a nice day with Dutch and Me breaking trail. Storn had woke up with a little bug so he was at the hut,but was getting ready to go.

    As Dutch crossed the creek I watched …I had heard some settleing as I crossed over

    Our destination was the snow field on the right

    The Hut……far below

    Dutchmarc nears our drop point.

    We were stopped at the choke because of ice. Found a nice flat rock for some sun and swithed to ride mode

    GoiterCam in action

    Our first lap

    After our first run Storn showed up.

    [/img]

    We decided to lap back uo to “sun rock” Storn…in recovery mode

    Our next run we took all the way down to the creek drainage

    Satisfied after a fat powder run

    We started up for round three. Skinning out of the creek we heard two “whumps” . It made me a bit nervous
    Josh and Sven decided to head our way. Soon everyon was up and riding

    Two shot Sven

    We started talking about settlements we heard and decided to dig a pit. We werent concerned about the upper part of the slope but more the long shoulder going down to the creek We didnt like our results .

    Storn…digging

    Pit 18-20 inches of new snow , consolidated but sitting on an ice layer. The ice layer was about 14 inches of ice,graupel and assorted crud

    By the time we dug the pit it was getting towards dark and the wind was picking up. On the way in Josh and Dutch dropped one last time

    Their Lines

    Got Back to the Hut about dark rolled inside with this view Looks calm and peaceful….but if you look at the lower right you can see some cloud cover rolling in. There was a storm on the way

    Over dinner we discussed the weather and the fact we would need to be ready to leave in the event we had a clear window. Their were two other groups at the hut that night , one group planned on leaving sunday after us and the other group were leaving monday.
    I woke at 1:30 am and took a peek outside, Blowing snow and sleet with high winds. I tried to go back to sleep but i was concerned about our exit.

    We left the hut at 8;45 the next morning. Not exactly an alpine start but I was just happy it had cleared up enough to leave.

    From the Hut we took a traverse about half way up the slope, I could tell it was slabby and had an erie feeling. I told the guys we should take the lowest route out as possible. The next few hour were unnerving , I felt like we were trying to walk out of a mine field

    Pics from the skin out

    Made it back to the car with blowing snow and lightning 😯

    The drive down the hill through the Giant Sequoias was spectacular

    We had a big ass steak down the hill to re-fuel for the long drive home

    While we ate inside it started raining ….and then

    Thanks to Swanny for putting this trip together. We owe you man :thatrocks:

    #603015
    kjkrow
    353 Posts

    Sweet, looking forward to the rest.

    #603016
    fullers2oh
    525 Posts

    the much anticipated TR has finally arrived 😉 nice pix, looks like an amazing trip. glad you guys got to taste some westside pow. i guess too deep is better than not enough right? bluebird on sat huh? thats lucky. also sucks you had to go around the grapevine to get there but you know when you encounter some extra adversity like that it always makes it that much more exciting when you finally arrive.

    #603017
    mtnrider
    740 Posts

    Awesome guys…i’ve been wanting to go to that spot for a long time now.
    the hut looks rad. one of these days i’ll get out there again. 🙄

    #603018
    Dutch Marc
    70 Posts

    Thxs TEX. Good to see you could use some of my pics. Good Crew & Good Fun & Awesome Pow.

    #603019
    bcrider
    4149 Posts

    Great stuff guys. I’ve always wanted to go there…..hopefully someday.

    8)

    #603020
    SanFrantastico
    1514 Posts

    TEX forgot to mention a few details from the trip. For example:

    @tex wrote:

    Next morning I made it to the Lodgepole area at 8:30am. I didnt expect to find the group…but they were waitng.

    Everyone drove in late on this trip… except Dutch Marc. I didn’t get away from the house until late, but I was still anticipating a 1:30 AM arrival. I knew I was just ahead of TEX who was just behind Josh and Sven on the road somewhere. It was a stormy night. I rolled through empty Sequoia NP gate around 12:30 and found the snow/slush line at about 2000′.

    A few miles later I also found a tree down and blocking the road.

    Going forward wasn’t an option so I pulled a u-turn to look for cell coverage and call the guys. A few miles later I saw a black pickup coming the other way. The only car I’d seen for a long time. It slowed. I slowed. It stopped. I stopped. It backed up. I backed up. “Are you Storn?” “Yeah – Are you Josh?” “Yeah.” “There’s a tree in the road.” “How big?”

    It was really maybe 1/3 of a big laurel tree. The canopy was by the embankment side of the road and a big 15″ stump was near the precipice side. We pushed and it didn’t move. At all. So we hooked it up to my car.

    It still didn’t move. At all. Then big Sven reached up an pulled on a branch. Crack! We all started pulling on branches and soon we had an almost car-sized hole in the canopy.

    My car was the biggest, so somehow it made sense that we should drive it through first. I had to go up onto the icy embankment and at the critical moment the car slipped down onto the last tree branch, which was too big to break.

    But luckily I had been watching Survivorman and he said to always carry a sawblade in the woods. I had a 3″ blade on my new leatherman!

    On the other side we found untracked snow. It was 25 miles to the lodge, twisty, with lots of switch backs. Josh and Sven were in a little 2WD Tacoma so at first I would wait on the level sections to see if they were following. But then the road got challenging. The snow got deep and it started blowing up over the windshield. I was surfing through the turns, trying to keep my momentum up when I hit the deep stuff. To up the challenge factor I decided to take a picture out the window.

    The road finally leveled an hour later. It was 3:30 AM and I found myself in one of the big Sequoia groves. It was kind of a great experience being alone, surrounded by darkness and silence and these gigantic old trees.

    So I got in bed at at 4:30 AM. Josh and Sven had to fill the pickup bed with snow and push/dig the truck out many times. They were thankful for the tracks I put in with my FJ. They were in bed at 5:30 AM. TEX arrived at 8:30 AM. “Did you guys know there was a tree in the road?”

    @tex wrote:

    Only one of our group had been to the hut so finding the place was a bit confusing for us. The snow was falling and the light was getting dim. We were about 15 minutes from diggin snow caves for the night and our GPS driven guide Dutchmarc led us in.

    Our plan was to meet at the trailhead at 6AM. Our 10:30 AM start wasn’t TEX’s fault. We were all wasted from the drive in.

    We pushed hard up the trail with our full packs. We were breaking trail in increasingly deep snow until we met Miles, the hut caretaker skiing down. After that we could follow his skin track in most places but it was still steep climbing for 2000 ft.

    We thought our problems would be over once we pushed over the hump, but they worsened. We had to cross this broad basin that was loaded with tons of heavy, waist deep powder. The hut keeper had turned around at some point so we were wallowing in powder and breaking trail with our full packs on. We made a navigational error that cost us a little time, but we finally found the hut by GPS. Didn’t see it until we were 200′ away.

    Boop Beep.

    Here are a few more pictures of hut life and riding around the Matterhorn on Friday.

    Each person cooked one meal for everyone else. No one wanted to cook a bad meal so everyone packed in something great. Here’s Marc with bacon and eggs.

    Josh

    Big Sven

    Marc

    Bweeeeeeep!

    Beepeep boop bop.

    @tex wrote:

    Storn had woke up with a little bug so he was at the hut,but was getting ready to go.

    A group of three snowshoers arrived at the hut, again just at dark. They spent the night and left in the morning. TEX made the best stirfry ever and I went to bed happy with two warm water bottles, tired and and happy from breaking trail and riding in powder.

    I woke up in a puddle of sweat and ejected the water bottles. I woke up shivering and retrieved the water bottles. My brain was dehydrating so I tried drinking water. I went back to sleep and dreamed about Cate from telemark tips. Actually I dreamed about her NTN review so I knew I was officially delerious.

    I woke up again and took the longest piss in the world. I drank more water but it hurt my stomach. At 5 AM the moment finally arrived and I unzipped my mummy bag as fast as possible. I just had time to pull on my down booties before spraying puke into the darkness. Yay! Way to go, dude. But it turned out to be 99% water and I somehow managed to hit the only 4 sq. feet in the hut that had no gear or people on it. So I didn’t totally f*ck up.

    After that was kind of a fog of shivering and nausea. To make things worse, it was georgeous outside. TEX and Marc promised to break trail for me if I could recover. I tried to hydrate with some tea but blew chunks again. This time into the composting toilet.

    Dry heaving into a composting toilet is an extremely negative positive feedback loop. Dry heaving begets more dry heaving each time your head approaches that fuming hole. I woulda gone outside if I coulda made it outside, to answer your question.

    But maybe the fumes killed off the baceria. I pulled on my down jacket and shivered in my sleeping bag but awoke later to the smell of bacon and it made me hungry.

    Marc and R2D2 had put in a great skin track. Here are few pics from a bluebird day.

    I was really lucky to have them breaking trail and encouraging me to get out there. This made me feel better:

    They’d found a great little south aspect with shallow, fast, windbuffed snow. It looked great and they were smiling! I couldn’t wait to get up there.

    That’s the hut, just above Marc’s thumb.

    Blurpbwap.

    The ride down was great! Very steep up top. Then we hooked past the last grove of trees and into the creek drainage. We probably got an extra 1000 feet, rolling down into the drainage.

    Another party on a different mountain got a picture of our tracks:

    (photocredit: dropin’in)

    @tex wrote:

    We started up for round three. Skinning out of the creek we heard two “whumps” . It made me a bit nervous

    We immediately voted for another run. We crossed over to the south bank, which has a north aspect, to climb back up to our skin track. We were spread out like we had been all weekend after hearing whumphs on the Matterhorn. TEX was leading and Marc was just starting up the slope when I heard a whoomph. I bailed back to the north side of the drainage and heard another whoomph as I was bailing. Marc thought the easy route was to go up to the skin track now that TEX was breaking trail, but I don’t like to go on that sh*t. I figured that the south aspect wouldn’t have the collapsing problem and anyway, we had just ridden it.

    So I waited across the creek while Marc climbed to the skin track, which was safe. Then I started up the north bank. Here’s the south bank, already in shadow:

    It wasn’t until I started climbing on my side that I realized the snow was a lot different than I had expected. When I was climbing the skin track in the morning I had looked at the North Bank and thought it was wind scoured or maybe windbuffed. I could see rock fins sticking out so it was pretty shallow.

    But our riding took us all the way around to a SW aspect and down below our original skin track I found that slope was cross-loaded.

    Woops! As I climbed I realized I was on a windloaded slope and I didn’t really like it. But then again, I can be paranoid. I climbed like I was on egg shells and I followed contours in the rollovers that mostly kept me off anything steeper than 30 degrees. But I often had steep stuff above and below me. Finally I found one of the rock fins and climbed shallow snow to safety. The slope seemed cross loaded to my eyes.

    More tracks and the hanging snowfield:

    One time in the past my gut told me I was in avalanche danger and I was. So now when I have doubts about a slope I like to take out the trusty shovel. I’m glad everyone else was stoked on taking a peek under the snow too. We found a loaded 35 degree section and dug in.

    There was about 18 or 20 inches of windslab on top of bulletproof frozen corn/ice to the ground. The slab sheared really easily and failed on CT4. (Fourth light tap from the wrist.) Ooops! We probably screwed up by riding that slope. A lesson on how easy it is to ride into danger.

    With a storm coming, we packed it in for the night.

    @tex wrote:

    Got Back to the Hut about dark rolled inside with this view Looks calm and peaceful….but if you look at the lower right you can see some cloud cover rolling in. There was a storm on the way

    Two groups arrived around nightfall. There was a group of four AT skiers on rented gear, with no avy beacons. Hmmm. Then a tele skier named Morgan arrived 10 minutes before dusk. His friend Jason was still out there on snowshoes. He arrived in the dark as we were motivating to go look for him.

    The four skiers were a little standoffish, but nice enough and they shared their bread with us. Morgan was very nice – a really good presence and obviously smart, too. Some of us smoked on the doorstep and it was a pretty friendly time. It was cold out and getting windy.

    The splitters formulated a plan to wake up & eat early, to assess the weather and be ready to bail if conditions were good. Otherwise, we’d sit tight.

    Morgan hadn’t been able to reserve a space at the hut so he brought a tent up with him to sleep outside. We insisted he sleep inside and he did, right under the dinner table. We could hear grauple pounding the roof that night and, I found out later, rain. In the morning the skies were blue, but the wind was blowing.

    We started contouring the hillside outside the hut, because that’s the fast exit route, with no elevation lost. But right away we realized that the whole landscape was now severely wind loaded. Every slope looked dangerous. We bailed down to the drainage and moved very carefully on the way out. We coordinated with radios and spread way out. We each waited patiently as the person in front advanced to the next safe zone. All the while we figured out the route and took turns breaking trail, racing the rumoured storm.

    Crunch crunch crunch. We felt that avy danger was very high but we found a safe route through the basin.

    And we found a safe climb out of the wind and over the hump.

    As we cleared the basin a mist came up the drainage and whited out the landscape behind us.

    We skinned the full 2000 feet back to the car. The snow back here was crusted and bad and the visibility was bad too. We just wanted to bail. There were even cracks of thunder to liven things up.

    We were ecstatic when we got back to the car. A great fun adventure with a bluebird powder day to go along with it. Everyone safely exctracted and the beautiful Sequoia Nation Park ahead of us.

    It wasn’t until we got back home that we learned about Morgan and Jason.

    They left 3 hours behind us and got stuck in horendous conditions in the basin. They bivvied near Heather Lake and set out for home in morning. It had snowed several feet overnight, so there was fresh powder on top of windslab on top of an ice & grauple layer. They found the path up and over the hump. Once they cleared it I’m sure they felt they were home free. That’s how we felt we we left the basin with just 2000′ of treed slopes between us and the parking lot.

    The pair decided to ride down and they found their way into dangerous terrain. There was a short slide, but it was into a trap and Morgan didn’t make it. He was a very pleasant person, smart and experienced in the backcountry.

    So be careful out there. Trust your instincts. Dig a pit if you have any question about what’s under foot. It’s just too sad when things go wrong.

    Putting the poo in swimming pool since 1968.

    #603021
    swanny
    189 Posts

    Sounds like quite the adventure, wish I could have been there! So much to ride and explore in that area. Next year, Ok?

    #603022
    D-GREEN
    336 Posts

    Beautiful TR and pictures with a bad and unexpected ending. That is the way it works though, trust your instincts and follow your own gut feelings…not someone elses tacks. My condolences to Morgan and friends, see you on the other side (many many moons from now I hope).

    #603023
    jershka
    17 Posts

    Great trip reports guys! Good times, with cool people, in a beautiful area!
    We’ll be back.(With Swanny) Sorry to hear about Morgan. My heart goes out to his family and friends. Especially Jason. Reminds me to appreciate what you have now, because you never know.
    JOSH

    #603024
    Wyomingsplit_ride
    663 Posts

    Sweeet trip report! Looks like a helluva good time. Terrain looks so good. Thanks for sharing.

    #825484
    lauren
    1 Posts

    Hey there! Any info on whether or not the hut requires a pin to access the inside? I paid for two nights and the woman who helped me told me I’d receive a confirmation email. I never received the email and I’m hoping I’ll be able to get in regardless. Cheers!

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