Snow on Telescope Peak

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tchiker
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Snow on Telescope Peak

Post by tchiker » Thu Jan 03, 2019 12:51 pm

I really want to hike to Telescope Peak this year and trying to figure out a good time, when there isn't crazy deep snow up there and also when I can potentially get up to road to Mahogany Flats (likely in a rental car, but hopefully 4WD).

I may be out there in a couple of weeks and could try it then, but thinking I want slightly less snowy conditions...although maybe it isn't that crazy up there now?

But generally, when is a good time to get up there when the snow has mostly melted, but is as early in the season (and cool) as possible.

Thanks much.

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wbdeford
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Re: Snow on Telescope Peak

Post by wbdeford » Thu Jan 03, 2019 3:15 pm

It varies greatly from year to year. At the top, there is almost always some snow in April, often in May, occasionally in June, and rarely in July.

You can get snow up there into May. After a snowy night of April 25, 2016, I drove up from Panamint Springs and started seeing snow before the kilns. By Thorndike, there was enough that I did not want to risk going further in a rental vehicle. I was also snowed on at 3500 ft (mostly rain, but a little mixed in) last April 19 in Hanaupah Canyon. There was another storm that went through in early May last year.

I have been to the park mid-April 2012-2018, and only in 2013 was there very little snow in the trail. There wasn't a whole lot in 2015 either. The other years there was significant snow in the trail--enough that you were wise to abandon the trail and take the last ridge to the false summit. Some post-holing up there for me in 2014. However, in all of those years, the road was open to Mahogany Flat.

So, if you seek to avoid snow, I'd say aim for mid-May....if you have flexibility, you can adjust as you see how the winter season progresses.

(Road is currently closed passed the Kilns.)

tchiker
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Re: Snow on Telescope Peak

Post by tchiker » Thu Jan 03, 2019 6:13 pm

Ok thanks for the info and I didn't even know the road was currently closed past the Kilns. I was thinking May seems way too late (and too hot) for me to do the hike...I was thinking late March or early April, although perhaps that would be too early, but I know the snowpack varies by year.

I'm not afraid of the snow, but just don't want it crazy deep and would prefer to start at Mahogany Flat if possible, although Thorndike would be ok. I don't think I want to hike up from the Kilns, as would just be such a long slog up the road to start out.

I do have good flexibility with my availability, so perhaps should just play it by ear and book some flights out there for April that I can always change or cancel if necessary.

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wbdeford
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Re: Snow on Telescope Peak

Post by wbdeford » Thu Jan 03, 2019 7:36 pm

Average high in the upper Panamints in April is probably in the 40s and 50s....Add another 10 degrees for May--so, it shouldn't be hot at all. Of course, if you are also planning lower elevation stuff, that's another story.

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wbdeford
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Re: Snow on Telescope Peak

Post by wbdeford » Fri Jan 04, 2019 6:08 am

Here are year-by-year snow snow pics of Telescope from April 2012-2018. They range from April 8-21, but the main difference is the snowfall variation, not how late in April the pics are.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set ... 7dda253bb2

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Death Valley Dazed
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Re: Snow on Telescope Peak

Post by Death Valley Dazed » Fri Jan 04, 2019 12:30 pm

tchiker wrote:
Thu Jan 03, 2019 12:51 pm
But generally, when is a good time to get up there
For you this year the main question might be if park service re-grades the badly washed out road from the pavement ends to the kilns. You might keep an eye on this road repair progress. I doubt that they'll fix it before this spring or summer?

Hiking from the kilns ads another mile or so and maybe 1K feet of elevation gain? Hiking from the pavement ends would double that?
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wbdeford
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Re: Snow on Telescope Peak

Post by wbdeford » Fri Jan 04, 2019 1:52 pm

Death Valley Dazed wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 12:30 pm
Hiking from the kilns ads another mile or so and maybe 1K feet of elevation gain? Hiking from the pavement ends would double that?
Based on Caltopo:

2.11 miles from end of pavement to the Kilns, and a little over 1100 ft
1.67 miles from the Kilns to Mahogany Flat, and a little over 1200 ft.

To do both, would be 3.78 miles and a little over 2300 ft.

Park service is currently recommending high clearance past the pavement end.

TrailHound
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Re: Snow on Telescope Peak

Post by TrailHound » Fri Jan 04, 2019 5:07 pm

We hiked Telescope on the Fourth of July one year. It was 120 at Stovepipe and upper 70's on the trail.

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MojaveGeek
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Re: Snow on Telescope Peak

Post by MojaveGeek » Fri Jan 04, 2019 7:37 pm

The snow depth is so variable from year to year. It's really a question of what happens with the Pacific weather systems, El Nino (though the last one was a bust) and the overall California drought situation. Two years ago I was up there in March and simply no snow. It was also really really hot down in the valley. But yes, as Brian says and shows in his pix, there is usually significant snow in the spring. The problem is often the last bit up to the summit, which can form a nasty cornice, though you may be able to by pass around that. I would not worry about temps hiking up there in May; it's likely to be at least 30 degrees cooler than down in the valley.

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wbdeford
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Re: Snow on Telescope Peak

Post by wbdeford » Sat Jan 05, 2019 8:21 am

Here is another awesome set of pics--April 14, 2010....it was seeing these that inspired me to start doing serious DVNP hiking. Note that the road was still closed due to snow and he hiked up from the kilns

http://matt.tracz.org/2010/04_14/

And here is a video from May 7, 2011...(warning, the music is obnoxious)


tchiker
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Re: Snow on Telescope Peak

Post by tchiker » Sat Jan 05, 2019 8:48 pm

wbdeford wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 6:08 am
Here are year-by-year snow snow pics of Telescope from April 2012-2018. They range from April 8-21, but the main difference is the snowfall variation, not how late in April the pics are.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set ... 7dda253bb2
Very helpful...thank you. I see that you talk about deciding to take either the "ridge" or the "trail", depending on snow conditions. Can you explain that a bit...which one is safer if the snow is deeper or is it a matter of convenience and ease of traversing the terrain instead?

tchiker
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Re: Snow on Telescope Peak

Post by tchiker » Sat Jan 05, 2019 8:49 pm

wbdeford wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 1:52 pm

Park service is currently recommending high clearance past the pavement end.
Damn, that is more bad news. I was there in early 2015 and don't remember the road being bad to the Kilns at all...maybe a little bumpy, but that's it. I will clearly have to do more research and stay on top of this entire situation before traveling out there. Although I guess if TP was a bust, I could just drive over to the Sierras and do something....although maybe not in April.

And people are talking about temps in the 60s at the summit, but that is much warmer than I would prefer. It's fine if it's around freezing at the summit or even a bit below if I can start out with cooler temps too. I just prefer the colder temps and 45 is ideal for me hiking up steep terrain. I have snowshoes too, but those are very heavy and want an enjoyable hike and not a total slog up there. So much to consider.

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wbdeford
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Re: Snow on Telescope Peak

Post by wbdeford » Sun Jan 06, 2019 6:09 am

Regarding the high clearance on Wildrose Rd, if you rent a mid-size SUV (which in my experience isn't much more expensive than a regular car), you should be fine.

Ridge vs. Trail. I added some info to one of my pics roughly illustrating the difference. Basically, with the ridge, you are pushing up what is at times about a 30 degree slope. With the trail, you are going along the side of about a 45 degree slope--which is no big deal when there is trail, but a 45 degree snow bank hiding the trail can be pretty treacherous. Either way, I would definitely bring spikes and poles and/or an ice axe.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set ... 7dda253bb2

tchiker
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Re: Snow on Telescope Peak

Post by tchiker » Sun Jan 06, 2019 9:23 am

wbdeford wrote:
Sun Jan 06, 2019 6:09 am
Regarding the high clearance on Wildrose Rd, if you rent a mid-size SUV (which in my experience isn't much more expensive than a regular car), you should be fine.

Ridge vs. Trail. I added some info to one of my pics roughly illustrating the difference. Basically, with the ridge, you are pushing up what is at times about a 30 degree slope. With the trail, you are going along the side of about a 45 degree slope--which is no big deal when there is trail, but a 45 degree snow bank hiding the trail can be pretty treacherous. Either way, I would definitely bring spikes and poles and/or an ice axe.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set ... 7dda253bb2
Ok that all makes sense with the drive, and I always rent a mid size or full size SUV, so I can car camp in it. So the clearance should be fine, although I probably won't have 4WD (though maybe).

I suppose I need to buy an ice axe anyway, so that could be the time to bring one along, although I really should find a way to practice self arrest somehow first. But I get the general concept.

It seems like hiking along the ridge would be much more scenic, so I would favor that if there is much snow on the trail. I can see how it could be slower going.

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wbdeford
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Re: Snow on Telescope Peak

Post by wbdeford » Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:41 am

Some people choose the ridge even if there is no snow. One year I did the ridge up and the trail down, I think.

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