View Full Version : Worried about Snow on JMT

Ryan S
07-08-2010, 12:41
Hi all,

I know it has been a record year for snow this year and am a little concerned about it. I am headed out to do the JMT on July 24 starting at Bishop Pass and ending at horsemeadow on August 2. I am doing this solo.

Does anyone have any idea what the snow will be like then. This is my first time doing the JMT. I am a moderately experienced backpacker but have not done any camping in the snow. Will I need an axe, a gps? Will I be ok doing on my own? Any suggestions and info would be much appreciated.

Thank you

07-08-2010, 17:01
You won't be camping in snow. You will probably have to walk on it. A GPS will help you keep track of the trail under the snow, but it's not a requirement. You can use a map, too. With snow, you just have to aim for the pass. You don't have to follow the trail exactly.

An ice axe might be handy for some of the passes. I will risk sounding like the idiot that I am and say that if you have the discipline to wait for the snow to soften, you don't need any ice axe. Maybe some crampons.

I imagine that by July 24 the snow ought to be similar to what I experienced in June 2008. I hiked alone then, no snow experience, no gps, no ice axe and instep crampons. When the trail was obscured, there were often piles of rocks to follow, although they sometimes went the wrong way a little bit.

I probably should have had an ice axe for Mather Pass because I did slip. I hiked too early. I should have waited for the snow to get soft.

07-08-2010, 18:53
I'm s-o-o-o-o jealous. I would LOVE to be hiking in snow next week instead of the 90+ temps predicted for Maryland. Since you haven't hiked in snow.. if you decide to melt any snow for drinking/cooking water .. start with some water in the pot. Use the heated water to melt the snow as it's possible to burn snow. Don't use any snow that looks pink, the color comes from snow algae and will upset your digestive tract. Take sunglasses unless you have Transitions lenses. Consider a little thicker pad underneath to insulate you from the snow while sleeping. Sleep with a stocking cap, balaclava or toque on your head. If you normally have cold feet, consider taking fleece boot liners or down booties. If you're a cold sleeper, throw a couple "Hot Hands" in your sleeping bag while you cook supper .. to preheat your sleeping bag and provide 8 hours of extra warmth. Drink lots of fluids even if you don't feel thirsty. I would prefer hiking in 9F on snow vs. 90F in the sun .. any day.

07-09-2010, 13:47
Seriously you will not have to melt snow to drink or sleep on snow. It ought to be sunny and warm all day, too. Cold at night. Bring industrial-strength sunblock or long-sleeves and maybe even sun gloves. The sun is harsh and burns fast.

The hardest part about the snow is walking on the suncups and finding the trail.

07-09-2010, 14:48
Take maps and a compass, and make sure you know how to use both. If there is still snow on the passes, it will probably be warm enough that tracks will melt quickly. I've found it impossible to follow tracks of hikers who were just an hour or two ahead of me on warm days. But, the navigation really isn't all that challenging if you know how to read a topo map.