Death Valley Riding Condition

Discussion in 'West – California, the desert southwest and whatev' started by 2on2off, Dec 18, 2009.

  1. mondokat

    mondokat Adventurer

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    I was in DV last weekend (12-19) and i met a guy who tried to take wildrose to charcoal kiln, hit snow, and turned back. Just what I heard, since I was on a street bike and didn't feel brave enough to try that route. Maybe I'll do a ride report later...
    #21
  2. A.Vern

    A.Vern One Man Wolf Pack

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    Here's what I could see...

    North Pass, snow at the higher elevations, but not as covered as I thought it would be.

    South Pass, clear until you hit the top. Then there is a solid section of snow that I would say is around 3 miles or so long. Now from my vantage point, I can't see ice, so it could be worse in the lower elevations. From what I saw, I wouldn't attempt to ride in on my GSA... at least, not unless there was plenty of beer and Mammoth ski bunnies promised at the warm springs.:lol3

    Lippencott: Clear of snow from Saline to the Racetrack, couldn't tell about the ice.

    Cerro Gordo: Lot's of snow.

    There is a storm hitting the Sierra (and the rest of CA) right now, so by tomorrow all this could of changed. As for now, Lippencott looks like the best bet getting into Saline.

    I didn't make it that far South, but the Panamints have a nice coat of snow on them. Stove Pipe to the racetracks looks clear.

    That Death Valley report that details every road is pretty nice, I'm not sure how much they update it, but that may be the best thing to go by.

    I should get out there again tomorrow and can give you another report (post storm).

    :freaky
    #22
  3. traveltoad

    traveltoad Aaron S

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    Sweet! I'll be there in a week!:evil
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  4. 2on2off

    2on2off Head'n somewhere new

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    Thanks for the update. Is your vantage point from an airplane? If so, sounds like fun. Did you by chance get a look at Steele Pass north of Warm Springs and Death Valley Road near Eureka Dunes?

    #24
  5. airborndad

    airborndad Long timer

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    A.Vern
    Just out of curiosity how fast was your plane going? I think I recall seeing a picture of it a few months back
    JET?
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  6. RiverRat

    RiverRat Endless Chores

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    Steel pass or lippincott are good 'escape' routes.
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  7. 2on2off

    2on2off Head'n somewhere new

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    RiverRat:

    What bike are you riding these days? Have you ridden over Steele Pass lately? If so, what bike were you on?

    On my next trip I hope to ride from Ubehebe Crater to Lippencott to Steele Pass and then into Big Pine from Eureka Dunes. Heard any reports about the condition of Death Valley Rd from Eureka Dunes to Big Pine?

    It poured rain in Reedley last night so there was probably alot of snow that headed to Death Valley from this storm.

    Thanks.
    #27
  8. RiverRat

    RiverRat Endless Chores

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    i ride the bikes in my profile. drz, 450 ktm and the super serow.

    big pine rd is VERY icy. be very careful. The new storm hitting now will make things more difficult.

    The snow should make it more fun. be prepared to spend a night out there or have enough fuel to take an alternate way out.
    #28
  9. traveltoad

    traveltoad Aaron S

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    At least one night...
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  10. 2on2off

    2on2off Head'n somewhere new

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    Thanks for the heads up. Maybe I should pack an ice pick...:eek1
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  11. A.Vern

    A.Vern One Man Wolf Pack

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    Jim,

    Yup from an airplane.

    Extremely windy today with snow being blown hundreds of feet into the air off the newly capped Sierras.... aorund 80-100 knots at altitude.

    Good news (or bad depending on your motorcycle masochism:lol3 )...

    This last storm must of had a higher snow level in Saline. There is still snow on the South pass, but just on the plateau. The road heading down into the Valley seemed a bit clearer than yesterday. Lipencott looked snow free as did Steel Pass.

    If you're thinking about the GSA up steel pass, it can be done as TravelToad did it with his prior to picking up the "Oarnge Crush' disease. I attempted it last March and found my worn TKC's wouldn't climb past around 10 miles up. As I was trying to figure out how to levitate 550 lbs over this gravel climb, my riding partner rode up with a bent front rim. After we pounded it back into shape and put a tube in it, another rim was bent in our riding group and we headed back to the Springs. Steel pass is a slurry of giant gravel that makes it feel like riding on sand with the repurcussions of riding on rocks. I've done it in a 4x4 before, no problems, heavy 2 wheeled vehicles are a bit more of a challenge.

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    One word if you're going out there on the bike, be prepared for really cold weather and getting stranded.

    With that said, have a great trip!:freaky
    #31
  12. 2on2off

    2on2off Head'n somewhere new

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    A.Vern:

    Just put some wings on that GSA and your good to go.

    I took three trips to DV on my '07 GSA and learned very quickly that I wouldn't be taking it up Steele Pass. That is one of the reasons I now own a DRZ400S, so I can tackle Steele Pass.

    Don't get me wrong, I loved my GSA but found out I couldn't ride it everywhere in DV but did have a blast riding it to Crankshaft Junction and Eureka Dunes.

    Do you think the weight of "adventure bikes" has something to do with bent rims riding Steele Pass? I have read reports of VStroms getting bent or broken rims there as well but haven't heard about 650cc or smaller bikes having this problem.

    In order to avoid bending a rim on a DRZ400S size bike, what tire pressure would you recommend? I usually run 15 psi front and read when riding a dual sport in death valley. Higher psi protects the rim but makes it harder to ride in deep sand or gravel. Lower psi provided better traction but then you risk a pinch flat or a bent rim. I never ran my psi below 20 on my GSA because I didn't want to risk popping the bead.

    I would like to hear if anyone has gotten a bent rim riding Steele Pass on a 650cc or smaller dual sport bike and what air pressure they ran. I don't think I have gotten this info from any ride report I can remember.

    I like to minimize the chance of bike failure while riding in DV so I can spend more time riding and hopefully not get stranded......
    #32
  13. traveltoad

    traveltoad Aaron S

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    Not small bikes... but I ran Steele Pass on my 2002 BMW R1150GS Adv without bending a rim... I think about 25psi. I have also run it on my 2007 KTM 950R SE without bending a rim... also about 25psi.
    #33
  14. 2on2off

    2on2off Head'n somewhere new

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    Maybe 25 psi is the ticket plus a rider with excellent skills riding through the rocks.

    I'm anxious to make my own determination of Steele Pass but my skills aren't sufficient to take a GSA through there. I rode my '07 GSA south around the back side of Eureka Dunes to make an assesment of the trail heading to Steele Pass and decided not to risk it when I hit the deep sand. Our group may have been able to make it but I'm sure we would have dropped the bikes more than once and that is something I was unwilling to do with a $20k bike.

    I am willing to drop my DRZ400S multiple times because I have it set up to do just that with minimal to no damage.
    #34
  15. traveltoad

    traveltoad Aaron S

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    My skills are far from excellent.

    But yes, you do have to be willing to drop the pig... more than once.
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  16. A.Vern

    A.Vern One Man Wolf Pack

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    Jim,

    Both bikes that ended up with bent rims (SV650 and R1200GS) had cast wheels. Apparently they are significantly weaker than spoked wheels.

    I ran into all kinds of stuff, and the stock spoked wheels on my 1150 GSA were fine.

    As long as you have spoked wheels, I think you should be good. Just bring a few extra tubes and the gear to switch them out. I am a definite noob in the dirt, but I think steel pass on a lighter bike would be a good ride. I may do it again, but from the North this time. The ride from the Springs heading North is all up hill until you start coming down into Eureka Valley. Traction going downhill wouldn't be too much of a factor.

    Following pictures... Fun with bent rims in the middle of nowhere.:lol3

    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]

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    [​IMG]
    #36
  17. A.Vern

    A.Vern One Man Wolf Pack

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    Another thing to think about, Make sure you have a good skid plate. The stock one on the R1200GS was ripped off by some random rock.
    #37
  18. 2on2off

    2on2off Head'n somewhere new

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    A.Vern: Isn't that Joe from S.F. on the SV? I remember reading of his adventure on Steele Pass. I had a chance to meet him in Pacific Grove a few years ago.

    Deep sand, deep gravel, deep silt and big rocks are always a challenge for me no matter what bike I'm on. I was actually surprised how well the DRZ handled all the rocks we rode through a few weeks ago in South Park Canyon near Ballaratt but it was still exhausting for me.
    #38
  19. traveltoad

    traveltoad Aaron S

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    Steele Pass is not as difficult as South Park (if you ride all the way to the top) IMO.
    #39
  20. A.Vern

    A.Vern One Man Wolf Pack

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    Jim,

    That is SFJOE in the pics. He was riding with a group that was doing Steel Pass from the North. They stopped to help out Larry (Galatic GS) with his bent rim. Around 5 minutes after we got moving again, Joe hit a rock that bent his. Joe's group used up their two spare tubes with the bent rims (the tubeless tires wouldn't hold air), and as fate would have it , a third bike went flat. I think you know the rest of the story, Joe and crew finally made it back to camp sometime after midnight after driving out with a flat tire.

    I just looked up Reedley, looks like you're just up the road from me in Hanford. PM sent.

    "Last light and still at the Warm Springs. Those PIAA's came in handy on the way out."

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    Vern
    #40