Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cycling in the Northern Alabama Hills

Since the Movie Flat area was getting a little crowded last week I camped in the northern Alabama Hills.

This morning I got up and went for another cyclocross ride although it was tough to get rolling in the cold. My hands were numb, my legs were heavy, and I felt like a popsicle until the sun popped up over the hills. I felt like life itself was beaming into me!

The northern section of Movie Road was freshly graded and watered - perfect conditions!
Yet another shot of Lone Pine Peak.Lone Pine Peak and Mt. Whitney.I always enjoy mining ruins.
The weathered wood and iron works look great.
This is the headworks of a big shaft. The cage around the shaft was built to keep people out.And there were flowers!
I got a real kick out of exploring a new area.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Skiing in the Wind

I hooked up with my partner, Steve and headed up to Onion Valley above the town of Independence. The road was totally clear to the trailhead where there was plenty of snow. The winds at the trailhead though were fierce, so getting the gear together and getting going was trying.

We headed south, up towards Robinson Lake and quickly were out of the worst of the wind. We passed a couple of nice chutes as we climbed higher, eventually reaching treeline where the winds were, again, very intense, so we retreated to the most attractive of the chutes we saw earlier.
Here's Steve booting up the runout from the chute with Indpendence Peak behind him.
More booting, with Owens Valley in the background.
It got a little steep near the top, but the booting was good. We had enough boot penetration to feel secure, but not too deep as to be drudgery.
We reached the top of the chute and traversed over to the ridgetop. The winds were absolutely ripping. Here's Steve peering over the edge.
The ridge provided some excellent alpine views as long as you could tolerate looking into freight train winds pelting your face with ice crystals.
The ski down was firm. Firm windboard (not so bad) and firm windcrust (kinda chunky). Sideslipping and traversing were the order of the day, but we did manage a few turns here and there.
We actually found a little softened corn snow lower down.
We managed to have a fine day in the mountains!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

This Week in the Alabama Hills

It's been a busy week at work, but I managed to get up early and do a little riding and hiking each day. Click on the picture for a better image.

I got the usual iconic pictures of Mt. Whitney.
And Lone Pine Peak.
Rock sculpture.

And Movie Flat scenery.
Spring has sprung here in the southern Owens Valley!

It's officially spring now!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Mammoth Mountain Storm Skiing

Today Steve and I went up to Mammoth Mountain for some lift assisted skiing in the storm. It snowed at least a foot and a half overnight with more nice cold snow falling all day. The temps were in the teens and the winds gusted to seventy miles per hour providing quite a contrast with yesterday's ride.

We started out on Lincoln Mountain/Chair 22 and found great skiing in the Avy Chutes. After a bunch of runs there it started getting pretty tracked up so we took a break for some fuel. It was just our luck to exit McCoy station to find Chair 3 loading with hardly anyone around! Bingo! We got another bunch of runs in fantastic snow. Eventually the winds picked up and we got stuck on the chair lift for about fifteen minutes (high winds often shut the lift down) which was a fairly cold and miserable experience.

Our legs were pretty fried so we headed home with very large grins!

It was real tough to take any pics, but I got a couple on our last run. Here's Steve stylin' it up in the cut up powder. Click on the pic!

Winter isn't quite over yet thankfully!

Jimmy's Birthday Ride

My good friend Jim Tabb celebrated his birthday with a group ride. The weather was perfect with beautiful skies and balmy temperatures.

We spent a lot of time shooting the breeze and catching up!
Descending into Pleasant Valley.Cruising next to Pleasant Valley Reservoir was mighty fine!A little Sidewinder slithered between our wheels and coiled up next to the road.
Descending into Round Valley.
And climbing out of Round Valley above Paradise.
A strong storm was rolling into the Sierra, but the weather held out for us in the valley.
Climbing up towards Swall Meadows.
And into the pines around Swall. That's Jimmy on the right. Always smiling!
These deer were more quizical than afraid.
What a perfect ride! Good friends, big scenery, wildlife, fine weather and a celebration for one of the classiest guys I know, Mr. Jim Tabb. Happy Birthday Jim!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mary & Porter Pay a Visit!

I had a special treat Tuesday night when Mary (my wife) and Porter (my dog) came down to Lone Pine to camp with me. I have to admit it gets a bit lonely down here at nights, so I was super happy to see them. Here's a picture of our camp at first light. (click on pic!)
We took a short walk to an area with several natural rock arches.

Just about every morning there are a gaggle of photographers lined up to get a good shot. You can see them behind Mary. (don't forget to click the pic)
We capped it off with a nice self portrait.
Sure was great to have the "family" down!!!
I Love Them!

Cross Riding in the Alabama Hills

I went for a great cyclocross bike ride in the Alabama Hills before work Tuesday. A cyclocross ('cross) bike is basically like a road bike, but with slightly wider nobbby tires. Here's a picture of my "steed."
I started at camp at Movie Flat and rode up Hogback Road. This is one of the many fine views of Lone Pine Peak.
These well graded dirt roads were perfect for the 'cross bike!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Maggot Chute

First of all I must explain the name of the chute I skied. The large bowl system northwest of North Lake is known as Maggot Bowl. I don't know why. The chute I skied is just west of that bowl system so I dubbed it Maggot Chute. Maybe Paiute Crag #7 chute would be more accurate, but what the heck. It may have some other local name too. Who knows.

We've had a series of warm pleasant days, so I figured the south facing slopes were probably coming into form pretty well. Maggot Bowl is often a decent "winter corn" option, so I figured I'd give the adjacent chute a try.

The winter trailhead is just above Aspendel, so I skinned up the road to North Lake. Here is a picture taken at the junction of the North Lake Road and the road up to Sabrina with the big peaks in the background. Click to enlarge. Please!
I think I take this picture every time I get to this spot near North Lake. The lower slopes of Maggot Bowl are on the right. The prominent ridge in the middle has no name that I know of, but holds about a million steep ski lines.
I have been wanting to ski this chute for a few seasons now. It could have used more snow, but I figured I'd give it a go.
I had to take the skis off for a short stretch here.
Further up there was lots of snow!
It's always nice to top out and see a whole new view. Basin Mtn and Mt Tom are on the right. Mt. Humphreys is just poking up over the Checkered Demon on the left.
This is the view up towards the eastern summit of Mt Emerson.
This is the view of the creamy goodness I got to ski on the way down!
In all honesty, I probably should have been descending about an hour earlier, but I was really itching to make it to the top. I was glad I did too. The snow was a little thick in spots, but generally really pleasant skiing. These lower slopes were quite nice.
Good times!

Sorry Chris, no pow shots.
I just hope we get some more pow!
The corn came through today though.