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Kern River conditions?

Original Post
Mark Straub · · Berkeley, CA · Joined Feb 2010 · Points: 25

Has anyone been out to the Kern River area recently, either the Needles or some of the lower-lying crags in the area?  I'm not too familiar with the region or the local climate- is there a large temperature difference between the lower-elevation crags and the higher stuff like the Needles?

beantown · · Big Bear City, CA · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 30

I saw IG photos of climbers at dome rock 2 weeks ago.  Kern river highway and generals highway are open, I confirmed with the FS.  The dirt road to needles camp is closed tho.  I'm just waiting for a good weather window to go, there is no snow.  Voodoo dome and dome rock both would be good choices

Fat Dad · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 60

The Kern River area and the Needles area is substantially different.  The elevation difference between the two is probably 4,000-5,000'.  Also, though it's really a poor snow year, there is still some snow up near the Needles.  I would suspect the rock might be dry (though check that after the recent storm that rolled through on Sunday/Monday), but there will likely be snow in the gullies and it will be cold.  I was in Camp Nelson a couple of weeks ago (which is down road of the Needles and about 3,000' lower), and the day time temps in the sun were mid-50s, so it would be quite a bit colder higher up.  Here's a link to some Sierra webcams:

Check the one for Mount Jordan.  They have one pointing south toward the Needles.  Keep in mind though that Dome Rock is a much easier approach and is south facing, so will probably be climbable if the weather's good.  I haven't heard about the Great Western Hwy. being open.  They normally close it every year at the Ponderosa, about 2 miles north of Dome Rock, even when the snow levels are low.  If it's gated, it's only about a 2-3 mile walk on flat road to get to Dome.  If it's dry, it would be very bikeable. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Northern California
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