Tips for winter backpacking (little round valley, strawberry

General Palm Springs area.

Tips for winter backpacking (little round valley, strawberry

Postby backpackpack » Sat Oct 19, 2019 11:50 pm

Hello, I've gone backpacking to suicide rock and strawberry junction a few times and want to get into colder weather camping. I have crampons, but I've never camped in snow. If I want to do this, what things do I need to consider, bring, or do, in order to be safe? I've been in 20 degrees and was fine, but I know snow and ice are different stories, and if it snows while I am there the trail can disappear. This worries me a bit.

If I want to venture up there this winter what should I do to make sure everything goes well?
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Re: Tips for winter backpacking (little round valley, strawb

Postby phydeux » Sun Oct 20, 2019 6:57 am

1. Learn how to use a map and compass. The trails and trail signs get obliterated by snow in the winter, the tree cover all over San Jacinto is pretty dense, so you've got to keep track of where you are. GPS units can run out of battery power, so a map & compass is essential.
2. Crampons alone are pretty useless, you'll need an ice axe and know how to use the axe/crampons together. Better yet use snowshoes and ski poles for travel. The snow on SJ doesn't get frozen solid, mostly just an overnight crust that you'll sink through in the daytime, so snowshoes (with some 'teeth') are a better choice for travel.
3. Consider taking the Tram up for your first adventure in the snow. Easy access, great way to get a 'feel' for winter conditions. Well worth the cost of a Tram ticket.
4. Weather: just watch the news reports and don't go if a storm is expected to hit the area. Temps at Round Valley can get down in the 'teens', rarely into the single-digits, so be prepared with a warm sleeping bag.
5. flowing water is not always available, so you have to melt snow.
6. Sunglasses and lots of sunscreen.
3 of the 5 voices in my head are telling me to "Go for it!"
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Re: Tips for winter backpacking (little round valley, strawb

Postby backpackpack » Sun Oct 20, 2019 10:20 pm

Thank you for the advice. Map and compass navigation is something I will learn. REI has courses all the time for that, would that be sufficient?

Would I need an ice axe for hiking up Deer Springs Trail to Suicide Rock? For my first try, I won't go right after a snowstorm or anything, but I still want to be prepared for a surprise storm. I've gone up on the tram in the winter plenty of times for day hikes and sledding, but never stayed the night.

So far I have carried all the water I will need since I usually go to the desert or local mountains where there is no water. I am planning to go up in three weeks. I don't think there will be any snow yet, but I would like to go when there is a nice blanket of snow and be prepared enough to not have any problems. Finding the trail after a snowstorm is the main thing that concerns me.
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Re: Tips for winter backpacking (little round valley, strawb

Postby Ed » Wed Oct 23, 2019 9:44 am

And check SanJacJon's website, as well as this discussion board, for current snow conditions. A real gem. He often includes equipment recommendations for current snow conditions.

https://sanjacjon.com/

As phydeux points out, a map and compass won't let you down on battery drain. But frankly I find their value to have major limits in forested mountainous terrain covered with snow. With the free Avenza app and the Tom Harrison Mt. San Jacinto map installed on your smartphone, you can locate yourself in seconds on the best map of the area.
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