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May-June 2010

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Sonora Pass (9624 feet / 2934 meters, see highway 108 on map), is the toughest east-west crossing of the California Sierra mountains on a paved road -- due to its combination of steepness and high altitude. But it's also one the most spectacular mountain passes in North America, most of all when there's still lots of snow around, like when I rode it just after Memorial Day weekend after abnormally large snowfall in May.

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riders out that day

I met a touring cyclist climbing the west side (who took that picture above of me)

He was continuing to Las Vegas. His original plan had been to go over Tioga. I think the west side of Sonora is way harder, but he made it up and over.

 Third rider that day, zoomed by me late afternoon, plunging down the west-side upper steep

I started from Kennedy Meadows on the west side, climbed up and over and down to Leavitt Meadows on the east side, then back the same way. Great day for me -- some luck + strategy that high-altitude symptoms didn't hit me this time, so I was able to enjoy the riding and the scenery, instead of just surviving and taking photos.

west side

sequence of photos from low to high (even though I took them in reverse order on descent)

looking down into top of the first steep section



snow visible already down to 8000 ft


above south side of road


easy section to rest from climbing


rock crag on north side of road


snowy on south side


road keeps climbing


See more of west side of Sonora Pass, then east side : Next page

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