Vivian Creek to SG Summit

Home Forums Trail Conditions Vivian Creek to SG Summit

This topic contains 18 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  sm 7 months, 4 weeks ago.

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  • #1365

    K2
    Participant

    Hiked up to the Summit on 3/21/17 and overnighted at High Creek that night and came back down on the 3/22/17.

    Conditions were varied.  Up to Halfway Camp, the trail was easy to follow even with the snow since there were many tracks. Microspikes would be helpful, but not absolutely necessary to that point.  About a mile after Halfway Camp, there were large parts of the trail that were covered with snow making the trail difficult to follow and a bit treacherous. Unless you are familiar with the trail, you will need some kind of GPS to keep you on track. You will also ABSOLUTELY need crampons and an ice axe with you. Just having them isn’t enough, MAKE SURE YOU KNOW HOW AND WHEN TO USE THEM.  The snow is very hard and slippery between Halfway and High Creek. Parts of trail have no snow and other sections are completely obfuscated with steep downhill slopes.  We had to take the crampons off and on a couple times in this section.  After High Creek, you are hiking in full snow, which was safer, but hard work.  We went straight up (no switchbacks to be found) from High Creek to saddle and then walked the ridge to the summit. Crampons are definitely needed as you get within the last 1.5 miles to the top.  There is no need for snow shoes since the snow was pretty hard the whole way up.

  • #1366

    Hike2summit
    Participant

    Thanks for the info!  We’ll be up to the summit and back this coming Saturday.

  • #1384

    jfofun
    Participant

    I am attempting to summit on Sat 4/15 from Vivian Creek.  Planning a day trip starting at 6:00am.  I have all the gear.  Can anyone tell me if the summit is clear or is it buried under snow/ice?  I’d like to get a picture with the San G summit elevation sign.  Thanks, Jeff

  • #1388

    Chris
    Participant

    I’d like to add that we should describe conditions as spring alpine/sub alpine.  Its definitely not winter.  Californians may feel like its winter but to apply standards to those terms makes them not very accurate.  Spring alpine conditions can be trickier, warm ambient temperatures trick people into hiking with not insulation layers because its very warm even though there is snow.  The intense sun creates melt/freeze conditions that make snowshoes cumbersome but crampons necessary.  I am a Canadian so winter means actual cold daily conditions which are not present here in CA. Its SPRING on the mountain and that means varied ice, snow, hot sun and cold nights, winter is a whole different beast.

  • #1392

    RangerDave
    Participant

    Chris,

    I’m a Canadian as well, and yes I know what winter is like, I grew up in Winnipeg, MINUS 40 DEGREES, oh ya!  Here’s the deal though; if I tell people it’s spring conditions then they come up in shorts and flip flops!  Yes, during the day it can be warm, but then it can be freezing on top with wind chills down to ZERO!  Oh yes.  With ice axe and crampon conditions and still several feet of snow here in California to be safe we’re going to call that winter conditions.  It went down to 15 degrees last Friday night when I slept at High Creek, that’s cold.  Now you day hikers that don’t plan for an UNPLANNED night out if injury or getting lost happens, you will not make it through the night in those kind of conditions just in a jacket and emergency blanket.  You have to carry a sleeping bag, foam pad, and bivy sack.  That only totals 5lbs.  You telling me you can’t carry 5lbs that could save your life?  I will be up there again this weekend at High Creek overnight Friday and maybe Saturday night?  Have your permit and ice axe and crampons or I will not let you go up past High Creek.  There still is no trail getting to High Creek and past High Creek.  Early morning it’s solid ice and well into the day when in the shade.

    Ranger Dave out.

  • #1396

    Jimmy
    Participant

    Another Canadian here, back in California after a winter of backpacking in Ontario. What do the snow conditions look like at Summit Camp for pitching a non-freestanding shelter? It would a challenge to pitch my tent if the summit is fully iced over (hard to do a deadman) and the rocks are inaccessible as tie-offs. Is that the case?

  • #1397

    RangerDave
    Participant

    Jimmy,

    I haven’t been to the summit but what I have been told is that it’s clear.  There are rock enclosures up there as well to overnight in with LOTS of rocks to tie down, no problem there.  It will be cold and maybe windy up on top.  Last weekend it was 15 degrees at High Creek overnight, so be prepared.  I’m probably heading up this weekend myself, see you up there, EH?

    Ranger Dave

  • #1398

    Jimmy
    Participant

    Thanks for the quick reply, Ranger Dave! I summited back in August and camped up there in what I estimated to be 30-40mph winds but this time I’m bringing an anemometer so I know for sure. We’ll see how accurate the forecast is (supposed to be in the 30s and <20mph winds on the summit), though I’ll prepare for much colder and windier conditions nonetheless — the mountains are about as fickle as a 5 year old.

    I’m heading out tomorrow so maybe I’ll bump into you on Friday. Depending on the conditions I may end up doing there-and-back via Vivian instead of the Vivian-Momyer loop.

    • This reply was modified 8 months ago by  Jimmy.
  • #1400

    Mushaney
    Participant

    Hello, we are headed up to High Creek with a group of 10 on May 5th for 2 nights. I am hoping to make it to High Creek but we can stay at halfway if necessary. My question is where is water flowing right now? Vivian, High Creek, anywhere in between?

    • #1401

      RangerDave
      Participant

      Hello Mushaney,

      Right now there is water EVERYWHERE!  I’ve never seen so much water flowing.  Vivian Camp is flowing, a whole half mile along the trail between Vivian and Halfway is flowing BIG (never seen that before in 10 years), High Creek is flowing BIG also.  There is still a lot of snow up high so you won’t have a water problem.

      Ranger Dave out.

  • #1403

    Ditchwitch
    Participant

    it seems currently (4/20) there might be 3 miles of hiking with crampons and ice axe from High Creek to the Summit (~3,000ft). What’s the estimated time it might take? Trying to figure out whether VC trail to SG peak is realistic as a day hike or whether this might be better done as an ON trip under current conditions or as a day hike later in Spring..

  • #1404

    petrus
    Participant

    Hi all, I’m looking to do a VC day hike tomorrow (that is, if I can nab a day-of permit in the morning).  I’m *definitely* not looking to summit, as I only have microspikes and poles (I’ve used an ice axe and crampons before but don’t currently own them).  Do you think I can safely make it to Halfway Camp right now?  At what altitude does the bad sort of melty/slushy snow/ice start (i.e., how far can I safely make it with my microspikes)?  Thanks in advance.

  • #1405

    sm
    Participant

    Summitted up VC on 4/20.  There are no snow issues at all until about a mile past halfway camp.  You could do that section in sneakers.  From there to high creek camp there are small pockets of snow across the trail but microspikes and poles sufficient.  Out of high creek the snow is still heavy over most of the trail, but just ignore the switchbacks and follow the melt patches straight up. Still would want at least microspikes and preferably an ice axe for the snow you do have to deal with.  From above high creek to the summit, there is heavy snow for last 1 3/4 miles.  I used microspikes and was fine, though the snow coverage is consistent enough that if you are in crampons you won’t have to take them off and on. An ice axe is still a necessity for this last stretch.  Lots of spots where you could find big trouble if you slipped.   As for timing, I was a little over 10 hours from parking lot to parking lot.  The last push is slow going.  T-shirt weather almost the entire trail once the sun broke.

    • #1406

      petrus
      Participant

      Awesome, thanks, sm.  Good to know.  I’ll most likely turn around tomorrow after hitting High Creek.

  • #1407

    Hike2summit
    Participant

    Good to know.

  • #1408

    Ditchwitch
    Participant

    hi sm, yes, thanks for the info…also be useful to know how much of those 10 hours hiking were spent above the snow line or using crampons/microspikes/ice axe in the deeper snow section above High Creek, thanks….dw

  • #1409

    sm
    Participant

    i didn’t keep close track of time by stage, but would estimate the following moving times (the remaining time being footgear changes; breaks; and a little time at the top):

    1. parking lot to halfway camp: 1.2 hrs

    2.halfway to high creek camp: 1 hr (there are spots on second half of this leg where microspikes would be preferred).

    3. high creek to top of ridge: 0.5 hr (i used crampons; could do with microspikes; ice axe in hand but unused)

    4. ridge to start of snow line: 0.2 hr

    5.   snow line to summit: 1.7 hrs (microspikes; poles; ice axe)

    6. Down: 4 hours

    For some perspective, i would expect my average moving speed from the bottom to high creek with no snow would be about 3.0-3.2 mph; a little slower from there up with altitude and incline.

    hope this helps

     

     

  • #1410

    Ditchwitch
    Participant

    that helps a lot sm, thanks! My moving average may be 2mi/h when its dry, and in snow probably quite a bit less than a 1mi/hr. My estimate is from hiking at lower elevation up e.g. Mt Woodson so maybe need to add 2-3hours or so. With the ranger station opening at 8am for walk-ins, that might be pushing it on a day hike….what time did you leave in the am?

  • #1411

    sm
    Participant

    i left at 6:30 and got back just before 5.  I imagine an 8 am start would push you into dark, of course that last stretch would be fairly manageable to navigate by headlamp.  Long day though.  good luck!

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