USA - Comparison of SGT and SHR

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Definitions of abbreviations - SGT is the Sierra Grand Traverse (our route along the range), SHR is the Sierra High Route (sometimes called Ropers High Route).

Whats shared

To begin with, one third of the Sierra Grand Traverse follows sections of the SHR. In particular, most of the route between Lake Virginia and Humphreys Basin (Carol Col) is shared between the two routes. As two thirds of our 200 mile route is different, is isi significantly different to deserve its own title rather than be called a variation of the SHR.

For those who have walked the SHR, it is possible to vary some of the shared route. One alternative route to skip the Bear Lakes Basin, this is a very scenic alternative that we checked in 2019. From Toe Lake, climb to and cross Italy Pass to Granite Park (very scenic). Follow the trail to grid reference 444342 (just before a small lake beside the creek), head south climbing to a small tarn on the ridge above (has good views of area) then an easy climb southwest leads through the Class 1 Royce Pass to Royce Lakes. Follow the lake chain south then head east to Pine Creek Pass then follow trails to Elba Lake to either rejoin the SGT there or cross Star Pass to rejoin the SGT in Humphreys Basin. It is also possible to simply stay on the trail from Granite Park to Honeymoon Lake then Pine Creek Pass but that is a less remote and also a less scenic option as the small lake and Royce Lakes are very scenic. Honeymoon Lake iissurrounded by forest and provides limited views of the surrounding area.

Passes

The SHR crosses 35 passes while the SGT crosses 41 passes. While the SGT crosses a few more passes, in this aspect  it is not significantly different in character to the SHR

Lake Basins

The big difference is the number of lake basins passed through, the SHR passes through 17 lake basins while the SGT passes through 28 lake basins, significamntly more. Of the 17 the SHR passes through, 12 are also part of the SGT. We deliberately sited our route to pass through as many lake basins that were on or above the tree line as we could while remaining reasonably close to the highest sections of the range.

Total Length
The SHR is 195 miles long, the SGT is 200 miles long, essentially the same. As the SGT crosses more passes and spends a bit more time off trails, compared to the SHR  it is suggested to allow a few extra days to complete the SGT.

Route selection - Dusy Basin to Kearsarge Lakes

We had two choices, one was to follow the SHR to Palisade Lakes, over Mather Pass on the JMT then stay east of the JMT and follow a series of small passes and saddles through the highest peaks on the divide through to Taboose Pass, Baxter Pass then into the Keasarge lakes area. This route is not all that logical as it winds a lot crossing multiple passes (some of them difficult) with a lot of scree and passes only a couple of lakes. Yes it is high but not overly scenic. We instead choose a much more direct route from Dusy Basin by heading south crossing several valleys and passing through a series of high, very scenic lake basins, namely Dumbbell Lakes, Lake Basin, Bench Lake, Window Lake and Sixty Lake Basin. In terms of direction, our route is also logical as it an almost staright line across the range to Kearsarge Lakes area. The basins passed through are some of the prettiest basins in the entire range.
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Last updated : September 24th  2022