Sunday, January 17, 2021

More Mammoth Lakes Basin Skiing

Despite a dearth of snow, I am still at it! Figure if I can have fun skiing now I will really have a blast when/if it actually snows.

 A few days ago I toured up to Heart Lake. I had never been there before summer or winter. 

Views on the way up.

Did three runs on this puny but fun slope above the lake.

Serene meadow on the way out.

Today was the first day this season I've toured with partners. McKenzie and Ann joined me for a tour along the western Mammoth Crest.

First we cruised up to Red Cone. Pretty bleak.

We found a little patch of corn and could not resist taking a run. Good fun.

Heading back to the top.

Entrance to Red Cone chute is gritty.

We picked our way westward along the crest enjoying fine views and great weather eventually descending a little bowl into a series of tight glades southwest of McCleod Lake. The facets skied reasonably well in there.

A quick stroll across the lake brought us back.

A couple of rewarding "hike with skis on" tours.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Crowley Columns

 I've been wanting to visit the Crowley Columns since I first saw pictures of them, so yesterday Mary, Bristle and I made the trek.

 The first glimpse.

Down at the beach, amongst the pillars. Amazing!

The ice was really cool too.


Spectacular day!

Trail/direction info here

An explanation of the column formation here


Monday, January 11, 2021

Chicken Wing & Mount Downs

Just because it's low tide doesn't mean you can't swim!

I was hoping the meager snowpack near Deadman Pass was holding up well enough to warrant a visit, so I toured up Mount Downs (near the south June Lake junction).  I was pleasantly surprised to find good snow, just enough coverage, and a cool series of connected glades almost all the way to the top.

Nice views of June Lake (bottom) and Mt Wood on the lower slopes.

The slopes above June Lake are bombed to control avalanches down onto the highway.

These new skis made the long stretches of Forest Service road a pleasure.

Weather sculpted pine on an exposed ridge.

Summit sentinels

Summit views. June Mountain ski area (left), The Negatives (center), Ritter & Banner (far right).

Bald Mountain, open flats and the White Mountains (skyline).

Chicken Wing is the horn just left of center.

With my skin track set on Mt Downs I cooked up a bigger tour for the next day, trekking south to summit Chicken Wing and returning north to summit Mount Downs.

Things did not go smoothly to start. The "road" I chose to head south has been converted to a moto trail with steep ups and downs - not so good with the scale skis. There were no tracks so I was breaking trail and there were several melted out spots.

Once I reached Hartley Springs Campground traveling conditions improved. I broke trail for a short distance then connected with a well trodden skin track to the summit of Chicken Wing. Love the views up there.

There were an amazing number of tracks off the summit. The upper glades looked just like a ski area! I found fewer tracks, tight trees, but good skiing by adhering to the north ridge, soon landing on the Forest Service road heading north. 

Fine XC style skiing in the forest here.

I was super grateful this snowmobile track otherwise I would have had to break trail for nearly two miles. It saved me a lot of time and effort.

Eventually I left the snowmo track and traversed over to the previous day's skin track up to Mount Downs.  

Another summit shot south to Chicken Wing.

No tracks on the descent besides my own! Skiing in the shady north facing forest is staying good. Coverage could be better but most hazards are visible and avoidable. Starting to get slightly grabby here and there by mid day.

Great two day project! The Voile patterned skis made it all possible. No way would I want to skin those many miles of Forest Service road.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Poking Around

I drove up Bishop Creek to take a look at conditions up there. Low expectations were met. 

Table Mountain is unskiable.

Ditto for the Tyee area.

Nothing doing up above Parchers in the Brown Lake zone either.

I did enjoy the XC skiing on the road. Was hitting asphalt with the poles here and there but the side roads were especially fun.

Today I toured in the Mammoth Lakes basin - again. Up in the Sky Meadow area - again. Visited some glades I like to frequent.

Unfortunately the last "storm" dropped only a little snow and came with a whole lot of wind, so most everything was wind affected.

The deepest trees still held good snow though.

Looks like we went from a low quantity/high quality situation to low quantity/low quality one.

Still nice to get out. Will probably focus on touring for scenery over touring for turns for now!







Thursday, December 31, 2020

Two Days in the Blue Crag Area

 I like skiing in the Blue Crag area early season. There's great tree skiing, some fine alpine runs, lots of nooks and crannies, and generally good coverage.

 An unusual storm visited the area Monday blessing us with nearly 36 hours of light snow with little or no wind, piling up to about 8" to 10" in the Mammoth Lakes basin and even more north.

Tuesday I took advantage of the improved conditions and toured in an area I knew would have good coverage and fun tree skiing.

The storm cleared as I reached the top of a small knob that would be high point for the day. The wintery scene was magnificent!

The skiing in the trees proved to be phenomenal!

The next day I followed my skin track up and then pushed into the terrain above treeline.

This broad, open slope looked promising but too many rocks lurked just below the surface, so I turned around here.

Tip toed down, only tapping a couple of rocks lightly, but had no interest in lapping it.

Headed east to some promising looking bowls.

Took two fantastic runs in there.

Last view before the run down to Emerald Lake.

 The snow was so good. Cold, light, with no wind affect. I just wish we had a deeper base to allow some bigger lines to be skied. Can't complain though. Wonderful day with some more storms on the way.

I experienced no cracking or collapsing of the snowpack. I observed no natural avalanches. Pole probing revealed an "upside down" snowpack with very low density facets at the bottom in most locations. The thickness of the facets ranged from zero to about 20cm, however the snowpack was stable with the danger rating at low to moderate.