Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Bishop Bowl

I enjoyed a fantastic day in the mountains with my friend Anne S. The moraine above Aspendell looked in especially poor shape with enough snow to make booting miserable and not enough snow to make skinning reasonable. So we started down around Intake 2.

An hour and a half later we were here! The snowy hump is the summit.

The big valley gets bigger with snow on the Whites.

Anne does her share of trail breaking.

Higher up the snow was more wind affected but still tolerably decent in the small trees.

This view of Mt Emerson (back) and the Paiute Crags (mid) floored me!

Anne basking in the summit glory.

Big views. Love them big views! The Palisades.

The snow was good in the trees, but you had to keep an eye out for wind crust.

 No wind crust down here. Just super fun effortless bliss!

The approach and egress were long and tedious for sure, but very much worth it in our minds.

Snow stability was good. Pole probing revealed little, if any, depth hoar. Hard slab pillows up high were avoided. No cracking or collapsing. We stuck to moderate angled slopes. Snow depth is still shallow, averaging around 60 to 80 cm.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

North Lake

Took a quick tour up to North Lake to get some fresh air, enjoy the scenery, and assess the snow.

Looking across North Lake to Bishop Bowl area.

and Fool's Ridge. Previous trips here and here.

The winds had swung back around from the southwest. Moving snow!
Saw some small recent slides near the road. Looked similar to the kind of activity we saw on Punta.

A large group of snowshoers stayed at the hut. They apparently enjoyed sliding on this slope. Fortunately the slope did not slide on them!

Lots of zones look good to go around here. Especially above 9,500' or so. Table Mountain and lower elevation areas are still kinda thin - but close.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Punta Bardini

Saturday came in warm and wet, so I was lazy and just nested. Overnight though the temperature dropped while the snow continued to fall. Ben, Ann P, Steve and I opted for Punta Bardini for ease of access and relative security.

Love the old growth winter scenery.

Punta is popular, so we enjoyed, for the most part, a previous skin track which took us about 3/4 of the way to the top.

The skiing was superb in cold, deep, low density snow. 

Steve gets his share.

For the first run we skied down through the old growth to the west Tele Bowl.

Ben deep in it with Steve and Anne waiting above left.

Ann floats on down.

and emerges from the trees.

Had to go up for another! Forgot how busy this place can get. Pretty tracked up by the time we left.

Did kick off a few small soft slabs on convexities. Not a big deal here, but bigger/steeper terrain would be an issue.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


Headed up the Buttermilk Road to see what I could see. Could drive a fair bit past the Horton Creek turnoff. A 15 minute skin got me to the big creek crossing and 45+ minutes got me to the regular parking area.

Mt Tom early.

Just past the creek crossing looking at the peaks. Mt Locke left with Wahoo Gully splitting the cliffs, Mt Humphreys back center right, and Peaklet just right of Humphreys.

 Ended up heading into Wahoo.

Amazing place!

The views from the top of the chute were not real encouraging. Still bony.

Plenty of snow in the chute though.

Mixture of breakable crust, supportable crust, and wind eroded soft snow. Skiing was pretty good. Had to have a keen eye for the soft snow and where it changed to not soft snow. Gorilla skied a lot of it!

The view back.

It's a classic for a reason!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Mammoth Crest Again

Steve, Anne S. and I ventured up into the Mammoth Lakes Basin heading back to where Steve and I skied two weeks ago (click here).

After yesterday's deep snow I was a little reluctant to head back too far, but the skinning proved to be surprisingly easy.

Anne and I admire the views.

Anne skins up towards our turnaround point.

Steve makes the first turns of the day. A bit chunky with wind affect, but skied pretty well.

Powdery down lower.

Headed back up for another and skied a more wind protected aspect.

Real nice skiing on the way out.

Topped the day off with a barleywine at The Rambler.

Good times!

Saw several shallow, but in some cases wide, crowns below rock bands near the crest and touched off a small soft slab in the throat of a short steep chute near treeline. The upper 6" to 8" of storm snow had just enough cohesion and had not yet bonded well to the layer below.

Here's a pic.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Earthquake Dome

After a fun storm day at Mammoth Mountain yesterday Anne P invited Mary and I to join her and her friends Christy and Meredith on a tour up Earthquake Dome. The storm was still in progress but winding down as we took Scenic Loop Road from 395.

Adventure driving! The Suzuki did great. Could of used a little more clearance, but the traction was awesome. 6" to 8" of fresh on the road.

Got the vehicles parked. Took a little doing.

We left the road and were instantly in a wonderful winter scene.

Mary, cruising skin track.

Skies cleared for a bit as we scoped out our first run.

Mary dropping in!

Christy like it!

Anne too!

At the top for the second run. Blue skies, sun, a little wind, and flakes in the air.

Run 2 was even better. Christy slays it.

Mary really got the knack in the deep fluff!

Great zone. Great fun!

Monday, January 18, 2016

June Mountain Backcountry

For several weeks we've enjoyed great skiing but in a fairly limited area. I was feeling the need to explore, find a new zone, while still looking for good skiing.

Last weekend on Whitewing I spied these drainages. The initial intention was to cruise up the treed headwaters of Deadman Creek on the left, but as we approached, the bowl up to the right beckoned.

We were pleasantly surprised to find good snow on the southeast facing slopes approaching the bowl, so we headed up.

We dubbed this rock formation "The Tuning Fork", could also be "Pinchers."

The sun shone intermittently with strong gusty winds on the ridges. Steve near the top with Mono Lake behind.

Looking up to the crest and the white triangle of San Joaquin Mountain.

The first run.

So nice!

Steve drops in for the second run.

The Tuning Fork in full winter glory.

Me dropping in for the third run of the day.

Letting 'em run below The Tuning Fork.

Just an incredible day.