JMT 9. 8. 2019 – South Fork River over Mather Pass to Upper Palisade Lake – 9 miles

(all images are clickable for a larger version)

In the morning it was unusually cold. Both on the tent and on the bear can was some ice, and the shoelaces of my trailrunners, which I had left outside, were frozen to the eyelets. But when the sun came out the air got warm quickly.

It was again around 9 am until I finally went off the camp site. Blue sky with no clouds, and quite easy walking though 1.800 ft uphill. The south side of the pass was again nearly free of snow on the trail.

Around 1 pm I was on top of the pass. This time I could have my lunch there, and continued after some rest.

Soon after the pass there was a slanted snow patch at about 35°, maybe 100-150 ft long. I saw a backpack lying on the rocks on my side.

I soon found out why: a couple was crossing this snow patch on their way southbound, and the dude had first carried over his own pack, left it on the south side and returned to carry the pack of his girl friend on the second tour. They both had neither traction aids nor trekking poles. In the above photo the terrain looks nearly flat but it was not, you have to lean your head to the right for a more precise picture. I felt quite uneasy for them, and one could see that the girl was happy when she reached the safety of the rocks.

I crossed the patch after them without my crampons, but carefully put the downhill trekking pole aside of my  downhill foot as an extra safety measure. The boot track was good, the snow was slushy but still solid enough, so it worked well and safe.

Here you can see this same patch from below.

It seems to be somewhere here where less than 3 weeks later, in the morning of August 26 another hiker, Wayne Pferdehirt, slipped and slided down on the icy surface. He hit one of the rocks below with his head and died immediately.

I continued down on the north side until I hit the Palisade Lakes around 4:30 pm. There I set up my tent at 10.800 ft on a granite block, washed some clothes in the nearby creek and used the sunlight to fully recharge my power bank and camera batteries. 3 passes done, one still left: Muir Pass, which is something like the halfway point of the JMT.