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Advice for multi-day scrambling/hiking route


Original Post
Chris A · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2018 · Points: 0

Hi and sorry if this is the wrong forum, but this is a bit too broad for any of the regional sections!


A friend and I are looking for something epic (by our standards) to do in basically any of WA, CO, WY or UT in the end of May.
Ideally a long traverse as far from paths as possible, but without much above Class 4/5. Teton Grand Traverse is too difficult. Ptarmigan Traverse and Torment-Forbidden Traverse seem like what we're looking for, but I'm not sure how possible they are (my friend doesn't ski) in the end of May. Some

Any ideas? We have about a week to play with.
Also we're from South Africa and haven't been out West much (I live on the East Coast), if that explains the broadness of the question!


fossana · · leeds, ut · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 13,231

It seems a little early for a big non-ski traverse in the northern states and even the Sierra this year (snow depth map). Maybe look into the Sangre de Cristos, San Juans, possibly the Nolans 14 course in the Sawatch.  They're not the most exciting ranges, IMO.  The Ruby Crest trail near Elko would probably be fine, but that's only ~50K.  The Gores are good for less technical traverses, but may be too snowy.  Sean O likely has suggestions.

If you're open to desert routes you could look into some of the loop hikes in SW UT, but I would stick to river routes that time of year.  Steve Allen's canyoneering loop hike guides or the backcountrypost forums are useful for planning.  If you are able to go later in the season I would look into doing a portion of the Sierra High Route or Wind River High Route.  Have a look at Skurka's site.  

Dan Cooksey · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 365

You should try to do something in the enchantments in WA before permit season kicks in.  You can do lots of epic scrambles without gear, although you may need some snow shoes for the approach (probably not by the end of May but who knows), definitely an ice axe for snow fields, and bringing a rope for repels is a good idea.  You could do Colchuck lake to Colchuck glacier to Colchuck peak and then traverse over and down the backside of Dragontail, then back down Asgard pass. 


If you go up and camp in the enchantments core zone you can do little annapurna and mccleland, and if you are up there long enough throw in the same Colchuck/Dragontail traverse. 


Best of luck and have fun whatever you do.

Chris A · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2018 · Points: 0
fossana wrote:

It seems a little early for a big non-ski traverse in the northern states and even the Sierra this year (snow depth map). Maybe look into the Sangre de Cristos, San Juans, possibly the Nolans 14 course in the Sawatch.  They're not the most exciting ranges, IMO.  The Ruby Crest trail near Elko would probably be fine, but that's only ~50K.  The Gores are good for less technical traverses, but may be too snowy.  Sean O likely has suggestions.

If you're open to desert routes you could look into some of the loop hikes in SW UT, but I would stick to river routes that time of year.  Steve Allen's canyoneering loop hike guides or the backcountrypost forums are useful for planning.  If you are able to go later in the season I would look into doing a portion of the Sierra High Route or Wind River High Route.  Have a look at Skurka's site.  

Thanks for the recommendations, going to keep my eye on that snow map. Getting into some canyoneering type stuff could also be exciting and is probably our plan B, but we're hoping to get into the high mountains! I actually just discovered the Wind River High Route, which looks incredible! Wish we could do it but reading around suggests May/June is much too early. Definitely keeping it in mind for my next trip out west though.

Alex James · · Ballard, WA · Joined May 2016 · Points: 186

Look at Washington Scrambles by Peggy Goldman. There are many multi-day scrambles in there that range from just a bit off trail to things that require ropes, crampons, etc. Bet you could find something in the Olympics in late May that would be well away from the beaten path, and not have *too* much snow. 

Chris A · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2018 · Points: 0
Dan Cooksey wrote:

You should try to do something in the enchantments in WA before permit season kicks in.  You can do lots of epic scrambles without gear, although you may need some snow shoes for the approach (probably not by the end of May but who knows), definitely an ice axe for snow fields, and bringing a rope for repels is a good idea.  You could do Colchuck lake to Colchuck glacier to Colchuck peak and then traverse over and down the backside of Dragontail, then back down Asgard pass. 


If you go up and camp in the enchantments core zone you can do little annapurna and mccleland, and if you are up there long enough throw in the same Colchuck/Dragontail traverse. 


Best of luck and have fun whatever you do.

Thanks Dan. The Enchantments were on my to-explore list when I was in WA last year, so I'd be pretty excited to get out there. Do you think early June is late enough for it to be doable? Definitely going to check out your ideas, sounds like we could potentially put together a cool traverse with some bonus peaks!

Right now thinking the Southern Sierra High Route might be the way to go. Some cool climbs and maybe the best chance of decent snow conditions.

Roy Suggett · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 7,569

Heyduke Trail from the Henries to BCNP in So. UT

Alex James · · Ballard, WA · Joined May 2016 · Points: 186
Chris A wrote:

Thanks Dan. The Enchantments were on my to-explore list when I was in WA last year, so I'd be pretty excited to get out there. Do you think early June is late enough for it to be doable? Definitely going to check out your ideas, sounds like we could potentially put together a cool traverse with some bonus peaks!

Right now thinking the Southern Sierra High Route might be the way to go. Some cool climbs and maybe the best chance of decent snow conditions.

Enchantments permit season starts May 15th. The lottery results have already been announced so you'd have to rely on day of lottery at the ranger station. Not sure if you want to rely on those odds for a big trip, especially since it sounds like you'd be wanting a Core zone permit. 

fossana · · leeds, ut · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 13,231

I just came across this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43ZRQzS7T7w The annoying music and Go-Pro footage aside, this area (Selkirk Range) seems like it might fit your criteria.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

General Climbing
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