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  1. #1
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    Default Fuller Ridge Mile 178-190

    For those on the PCT this early, (Started March 15th, reached Fuller approach March 24th)just a warning about Fuller Ridge. My plan after the Forbes Alternate was to get close because the second day was a great weather day, then it was going to get stormy again. Thought I could get across Fuller Ridge and drop back to low elevation before the bad weather. I ran into a lot of snow, climbing out of Idyllwild to Saddle Jct. I ended up in very steep terrain and hard packed snow miles before approaching Fuller Ridge. I had micro spikes but still managed to take a long uncontrolled slide of about 1,000 feet, bouncing off trees and rocks and doing a face plant into a group of rocks that probably saved my life. It was still a long way to the basement into a scree field that awaited me at the bottom. I didn't break any bones just scraped up real bad and broke a lot of gear. Thought for sure I broke my glasses, but they were in one piece and not even scratched much. My elbow was bleeding and embedded with gravel, small cut above the eye, one pole broken, the other hanging precariously just out of reach, which I was able to grab before it continued on down the slope. I knew if I couldn't grab it I would have a hell of a time climbing back up top. Both my water bottles continued to the bottom never to be seen again. Had my phone in my pants pocket. The pocket was torn real bad, but the phone did not fall out. Broke the phone case but the phone was still functioning but no reception. I think my pack took a lot of the abuse instead of my body. I should have had my ice axe, but still would have turned back. I tried using my pole for self arrest, but the snow was too hard to do much good. The spikes actually caught and turned me sliding head first, not a good thing. I feel very lucky to have this turn out the way it did. Took me 12 hours to get back up to the trail and maneuver four miles back across steep snow to the junction that would take me down to Idyllwild. After licking my wounds I am going north of town to Black Mountain road to climb back to the trail after Fuller. I suggest you do the same until Fuller loses a lot more snow. Just a heads up for those behind me. I've been hiking solo for 50 years, but this was a real wake up call. Don't ruin your hike trying to do this section. It was a stupid move on my part. --Dickebird
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  2. #2
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    Glad that you were able to walk away. Just so you know, you have potentially more dangerous sections ahead, in the San Bernadinos and San Gabriels. I would suggest you take some time to heal up and hit the trail again after the snow has melted in a couple of months. The trail isn't going anywhere.

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    Where exactly did you fall? Was it to the east or west? before or after the san jacinto river?
    enemy of unnecessary but innovative trail invention gadgetry

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    3+ miles northbound of saddle jct. Approx. Not sure i was even on trail. Just steep terrain, hard packed snow. Every step had to be kicked in. Craziest, stupid thing i have ever done. Just want to give a heads up to those coming behind.

  5. #5
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    I did the cdt in 1999. Had to deal with snow as soon as i hit colorado in the san juans. This is nothing like that. It was june and the snow was a much different consistancy. This early season snow is an ice rink just waiting for victims. Unless you are highly skilled and equipped, which most thru hikers are not, skip this section until later in the season. I plan to continue but will look at the higher elevation conditions from a much more respectful perspective with my one good eye. --keep smilin'

  6. #6

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    My impression of the snow from the I-10 is the snow level is below where Fuller Ridge meets Black MTN road, so you likely aren't out of the snow yet.

    Sounds like you found out why they teach you to left your feet up when sliding in order to keep your crampons from catching. Of course this assumes you have something other than your feet to dig in to stop. Didn't think microspikes would do the same as crampons since they don't have the front teeth. With as much snow that is on Fuller Ridge, trying it without an ice axe isn't good. Much better to go around to Black MTN Rd. A few years ago they found a skeleton of someone who slid down the side of Fuller Ridge. You are extremely blessed to come out as well as you did.

    Good luck with the rest of your trip. You'll have snow by Big Bear, but the terrain isn't bad. It's only Mt. Baden Powell by Wrightwood that you still need to watch out for. A person slid and died back in January between there and Little Jimmy (day hiker who didn't have spikes). But you do have the option of hiking along Hwy 2 instead if you don't like what you see.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Miner View Post
    My impression of the snow from the I-10 is the snow level is below where Fuller Ridge meets Black MTN road, so you likely aren't out of the snow yet.

    Sounds like you found out why they teach you to left your feet up when sliding in order to keep your crampons from catching. Of course this assumes you have something other than your feet to dig in to stop. Didn't think microspikes would do the same as crampons since they don't have the front teeth. With as much snow that is on Fuller Ridge, trying it without an ice axe isn't good. Much better to go around to Black MTN Rd. A few years ago they found a skeleton of someone who slid down the side of Fuller Ridge. You are extremely blessed to come out as well as you did.






    Good luck with the rest of your trip. You'll have snow by Big Bear, but the terrain isn't bad. It's only Mt. Baden Powell by Wrightwood that you still need to watch out for. A person slid and died back in January between there and Little Jimmy (day hiker who didn't have spikes). But you do have the option of hiking along Hwy 2 instead if you don't like what you see.
    Miner, I'll hike this week from Agua Dulce north towards Walker Pass for 9 days.

    Do you think I'll have to make any detours before or around the Pass?

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    Quote Originally Posted by birdscope View Post
    Miner, I'll hike this week from Agua Dulce north towards Walker Pass for 9 days.

    Do you think I'll have to make any detours before or around the Pass?
    Not miner but I wouldn't expect any major issues in that stretch.
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  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by birdscope View Post
    Miner, I'll hike this week from Agua Dulce north towards Walker Pass for 9 days. Do you think I'll have to make any detours before or around the Pass?
    You'll likely encounter some snow in the higher elevations as you get near Walker Pass this early in the season. You technically are already in the Sierra Nevada after you leave Tehachappi. I've never been through there when there is still snow on the ground so I can't speak much from first hand experience. I can only remember one spot that might be trouble in snow but I don't remember the elevation there, but you are probably going to be alright without much difficulty. I doubt you'll see much under 7000ft. So no detours except the fire closures soon after Aqua Dulce. Instead just wet cold feet near the end and perhaps some brief navigation confusion.

    At least I hope nothing worse. I'm heading out for a weekend trip to the west about 50 miles of there that will follow a 7000 ft ridge for a couple of miles. Should give me a better feel for the snow in the mid elevations. I'm bringing microspikes, but leaving my ice axe at home.

  10. #10
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    Made it to mile 245 at about 8500 feet. As soon as I turned the corner to the Northside after climbing up Mission Creek I hit tons of hard packed snow on March 28. Spent the night in a wind/snowstorm that blew all night and warped my tent pole out of shape. Came down on FS road to Hwy. 38. By the looks of trail runner tracks on road most early hikers are doing the same. All I could see were miles of snow at that elevation. I started this trek way too early in the wrong year. Rethinking my options. P.S. I had heard there was a ton of Poodle Dog bush in the Lake Fire Closure area. Not true. None in fact. Trail was in great shape with a few deadfall here and there.

  11. #11

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    Calculate back to a mid-June entry into the Sierra, and take a break until then?

  12. #12
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    Hey PCT Hikers,
    Current conditions on the Sierra Crest & high flanks currently require exceptional skills, gear, and fitness. These are not conditions for the rookie hiker, or even the expert Summer backpacker, and they certainly exceed the capacity of ultralight setups.

    I have been tracking the evolution of this Winter's monster snow pack to our current status of "right-on-the-brink of thawing" conditions across a number of perspectives. Here's my backpacker's calendar, where you can access the individual reporting stations (temp & snow) up and down the Sierra Crest, as well as each watershed's collection of water content station readings. The calendar covers this whole Winter into Spring (back to '14). Info to translate H2O to snow depth is included:

    https://tahoetowhitney.com/2017-high...alendar.html#4

    Conclusion: A VAST snow pack is sitting on the Crest.


    When conditions change or things get crazy-looking I send out Backpacker's Alerts. April 1 of this year deserves notice:

    http://tahoetowhitney.org/content/ba...t-april-1-2017

    A special set of circumstances/forces are beginning their annual progression, but at a scale not seen since 2010-11, and maybe even bigger than then. The potential dangers are deep, vast, cold and quick moving... More than a few TW members emailed back, stating I should post this info to Whiteblaze and on the PCT Association. It's now in their "Q," and here I am!

    In the March 8 Alert I identified the forces at play determining how this Spring would play out:

    http://tahoetowhitney.org/content/ba...-march-2017#82


    My purpose is to equip PCT hikers, among other backcountry travelers with the information necessary to understand each season's unique evolution of Winter into Spring and Summer along the Sierra Crest and its high flanks.


    All Weather Resources

    http://tahoetowhitney.org/content/fa...orts#el-nino-5

    I see the possibility of a tropical transport mechanism opening up in five-six days. This could bring tropical-style weather to the Sierra. Get ready for "Ma Nature's Wild Ride?" Well, we should always be ready.



    Sierra News: All the news about man & nature along the edge and center of the Sierra:

    http://tahoetowhitney.org/content/ba...april-may-2017


    The above information will give you the best views of the Sierra and conditions along the crest that I can come up with. These perspectives indicate only experienced snow backpackers with sufficient gear and strength enter the Sierra at this point in time. That type of travel is not conducive to a quick pace. My best days are around 12 mpd in these conditions. Nowhere near the pace required to finish the PCT in a season.

    This will be a difficult year even for Section Hikers!

    I'll post up summaries of my information for you guys over here on Whiteblaze, and don't forget to give me a heads up at Tahoe to Whitney if you see things I should spread about to Sierra hikers!

    Happy Trails to my East Coast Bros & Sisters,

    Alex from Tahoe to Whitney

  13. #13
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    Thanks for the awesome info, hike1! Also, for those who haven't seen it yet, Halfmile's Water Report is now listing snow and ford conditions. Same as the water report, the snow and ford info is updated by hikers in "real time" (whatever the hell that means).

    Glad to see there are multiple sources for hikers looking to stay safe in this historic year!
    Righeous
    AT SOBO '13

    Montani Semper Liberi-
    Mountaineers are always free

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dickebird View Post
    For those on the PCT this early, (Started March 15th, reached Fuller approach March 24th)just a warning about Fuller Ridge. My plan after the Forbes Alternate was to get close because the second day was a great weather day, then it was going to get stormy again. Thought I could get across Fuller Ridge and drop back to low elevation before the bad weather. I ran into a lot of snow, climbing out of Idyllwild to Saddle Jct. I ended up in very steep terrain and hard packed snow miles before approaching Fuller Ridge. I had micro spikes but still managed to take a long uncontrolled slide of about 1,000 feet, bouncing off trees and rocks and doing a face plant into a group of rocks that probably saved my life. It was still a long way to the basement into a scree field that awaited me at the bottom. I didn't break any bones just scraped up real bad and broke a lot of gear. Thought for sure I broke my glasses, but they were in one piece and not even scratched much. My elbow was bleeding and embedded with gravel, small cut above the eye, one pole broken, the other hanging precariously just out of reach, which I was able to grab before it continued on down the slope. I knew if I couldn't grab it I would have a hell of a time climbing back up top. Both my water bottles continued to the bottom never to be seen again. Had my phone in my pants pocket. The pocket was torn real bad, but the phone did not fall out. Broke the phone case but the phone was still functioning but no reception. I think my pack took a lot of the abuse instead of my body. I should have had my ice axe, but still would have turned back. I tried using my pole for self arrest, but the snow was too hard to do much good. The spikes actually caught and turned me sliding head first, not a good thing. I feel very lucky to have this turn out the way it did. Took me 12 hours to get back up to the trail and maneuver four miles back across steep snow to the junction that would take me down to Idyllwild. After licking my wounds I am going north of town to Black Mountain road to climb back to the trail after Fuller. I suggest you do the same until Fuller loses a lot more snow. Just a heads up for those behind me. I've been hiking solo for 50 years, but this was a real wake up call. Don't ruin your hike trying to do this section. It was a stupid move on my part. --Dickebird
    image.jpeg
    Quote Originally Posted by Dickebird View Post
    3+ miles northbound of saddle jct. Approx. Not sure i was even on trail. Just steep terrain, hard packed snow. Every step had to be kicked in. Craziest, stupid thing i have ever done. Just want to give a heads up to those coming behind.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dickebird View Post
    I did the cdt in 1999. Had to deal with snow as soon as i hit colorado in the san juans. This is nothing like that. It was june and the snow was a much different consistancy. This early season snow is an ice rink just waiting for victims. Unless you are highly skilled and equipped, which most thru hikers are not, skip this section until later in the season. I plan to continue but will look at the higher elevation conditions from a much more respectful perspective with my one good eye. --keep smilin'
    I've spoken of these conditions several times on PCT threads suggesting this is what would be experienced this yr. In the shade or north facing exposures the snow can be exactly as said... an ice rink. It's worse when deep snow cups exist on steep slope. Take time and be extremely mindful of footing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    I've spoken of these conditions several times on PCT threads suggesting this is what would be experienced this yr. In the shade or north facing exposures the snow can be exactly as said... an ice rink. It's worse when deep snow cups exist on steep slope. Take time and be extremely mindful of footing.
    But, aren't the first 700 miles of the PCT desert?
    enemy of unnecessary but innovative trail invention gadgetry

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