California’s snowy Bishop Pass


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Week of May 29-June 5, 1996
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The great Western raft trip, defined
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California’s snowy Bishop Pass
Challenging hikes in the Smokies

California’s snowy Bishop Pass
Question: I saw your answer about PCT hiking near Yosemite in July. I’d like to hike over Bishop Pass to the John Muir Trail and loop around to North Lake the second week of July. What chance do you think there is that Bishop Pass will be snow-free enough to cross? (I’m no ice climber.) Thanks.

Kirk Mather
San Diego, CA

California’s Sierra Nevada Range can see snow all year round.

Adventure Adviser: Well, one thing’s for sure: 11,980-foot Bishop Pass definitely won’t be snow-free in mid-July, but with any luck, you probably won’t need an ice ax or ropes–just a good pair of crampons to negotiate the non-technical ascent.

According to the National Forest White Mountain Ranger Station, the snowpack at the pass is 125 percent above normal this year, compared to last summer’s whopping 200 percent above normal, which forced many people to cancel their trips. Still, though, snow is hard to predict–they just had a storm last week–so your best bet is to call the rangers (619-873-2500) for updated
conditions closer to your trek date. For a good overview of the hike itself, check out the California section of “America the Hoofable” in the Destinations section of our April 1996 issue.

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