Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Ruby Mountains: Thomas Canyon IV

Four days in a row in Thomas Canyon? Why not. Yesterday I spotted a zone that looked like it would ski pretty well, so I headed back up.

Another clear, cold morning. Had the canyon to myself today for the first time.

Snowmobiles and helicopter skiers, oh my! Didn't feel badly about putting a skin track in here.

I got good views of the area I skied yesterday.

I arrived at the top of the ridge separating Thomas Canyon from the Right Fork. Nice rock.

Mt Gilbert

The head of the Right Fork. The helicopter ski operation was hammering this zone. Kinda fun to watch, but sad to see them track it out pretty well.

From my high point on the ridge I kept traversing south looking for good snow. I found it on these slopes.

Did two runs. Both quite good. Crossed a snowmobile track or two, but can't complain.

 View from afar.

A short skin led me to this fine run. Nice cherry on the top of the day!

Another terrific tour!

Monday, February 24, 2020

Ruby Mountains: Thomas Canyon III

Winter is back in the Ruby Range! Sadly that doesn't mean fresh snow, but it does mean the temps were cold and the breeze was up.

Got a leisurely 9:15 start and it was still quite brisk, crisp and clear.

 Looking up into the zone I skied yesterday.

The two lines center got skied during the last few days.

I was sitting up on that ridge just above the little trees yesterday.

Today's destination. The notches on the skyline.

Skinned almost all of the way to the top of the left notch. Booted the last 30' where it got a bit steep and firm.

Nice looking terrain on the backside. I found a sunny, protected spot to have a snack and change over to downhill mode. Just a few feet away the wind was howling pretty good.

The view from the right notch.

My tracks and a bunch of snowmobile tracks. The skiing was fair to good up here. It paid to read the texture of the snow and hunt around for the softest zones.

Plenty of snowmobile tracks and heliskier tracks in this zone but still plenty left.

Freaky filter. Skiing in the glades here was quite good.

Best day in the Rubies thus far!

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Ruby Mountains: Thomas Canyon II

I got up in Lamoille Canyon early hoping to beat the warm temps we experienced yesterday. Fortunately the clear night provided cold temps and a steady breeze kept strong warming at bay.

Quiet at the trailhead at 7:30. Nice light too.

Yesterday Elysia and I spied a pair of skiers heading up the first drainage on the west side of Taylor Canyon, so there was a skin track in. The topo map depicted a large mostly moderate drainage with large cliffs. Enticing - so up I went.

Looking back at the trailhead down at the bottom.

The peaks and faces were just beaming.

I made good time with the help of the previous skin track, eventually finding myself on a high ridge looking down into Thomas Canyon where Elysia and I skied yesterday.

Fascinating rock formations on the ridge.

The view up from the trailhead at the end of the tour. My route took me up and right toward the dark peak.

Windshield pic on the way out. It was great to be able to drive to the campground. 

From the ridge I had a few hundred feet of fair skiing on wind affected snow before entering nice glades which provided about 1500' of very good powder skiing. Below that was a mixed bag of softening sun crust (surprisingly decent skiing), not softened sun crust (quite poor skiing), with a little powder and wind board thrown in. Good tour.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Ruby Mountains: Thomas Canyon

Today was the first day of a week long road trip out to Nevada. I'm at Lamoille Canyon in the Ruby Mountain Range and enjoyed a fine tour with my good friend Elysia. We parked at the first parking area for snowmobilers and skinned up the main road past the beautiful Terminal Cancer couloir.

We then took a right turn and headed up Thomas Canyon enjoying easy travel on a previous skin track and snowmobile track.

Looking back down canyon.

We found some nice gladed bowls near the head of the canyon. Elysia skins up.

Soon we found ourselves at the top of a ridge with terrific views. Mt Fitzgerald.

Majestic Snow Lake Peak.

We found good skiing in the glades, which were heavily tracked by the helicopter ski operation.
Still plenty of room for fresh track for us though. The snow was getting a bit heavy lower down as the temperature rose. Still were able to find a little fair skiing here and there on the way out. Mostly we just zoomed out on the snowmo track! 

Back to the road we found ourselves in the snowmobile zone complete with impressive hill climbers, fast racers, and cute kids enjoying the day.

What a way to start the road trip! Thanks Elysia!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

A Couloir in the Humphreys Area

After a fun day skiing at Mammoth yesterday Ben and I drove up to the Upper Buttermilk zone to look for some corn - or at least spring type snow.

The views from the truck to start the day weren't too hard on the eyes.

To start the coverage wasn't great, but the travel was fast.

Ben skins up through some wind sculpted snow.

We were hoping to find cooked up snow in this area. The giant SE face of Mt Humphreys hovers above.

Once this gem of a couloir came into view our goal was set.

Ben boots up low in the chute.

Ben took this shot of me nearing the top of the run.

 The views from the top were grand. Basin Mtn left and Peaklet right.

Ben enters.

The skiing in the couloir was not exactly what we hoped for. Up high was a couple of inches of thick grabby snow over a firm base and lower was soft, but unconsolidated snow. I'd call it poor to fair skiing. The apron below provided nice skiing though. Quick travel out.

Don't have to have great skiing to have a great ski tour though! 

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Back to the Lakes Basin

I headed up to the Mammoth Lakes Basin again in search of soft winter snow and to see how much the snowpack had been affected by the big winds the last few days (up to 145mph on Mammoth!).

I toured through the tree kill area west of Horseshoe Lake. Volcanic activity produces elevated CO2 levels in the soil that literally suffocate the tree roots.

The familiar zone. I climbed the sunny trees on the right, traversed the open slopes beneath the crest, and descended the darkest tree area on the left.

The obligatory shot of the backside of Mammoth.

Wind hammered!

Magnificent granite.

Wind erosion distant, wind deposit foreground.

I was happy to find unaffected snow here. Good skiing for about a 350' run. Took two!

Nice outing. Still blowing and chilly up high. Calm and mild low.