Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Skiing

Mary and I spent the Christmas holiday with my mom, sister, and brother in law up in Mammoth. Of course I used the opportunity to go skiing!

Since I wanted to spend time with my family I decided on a couple of short tours. On Thursday I skied off the back side of Mammoth down to Horseshoe Lake and then up to the area known as Hollywood Bowl. On Friday I returned, this time touring up from Tamarack.

Here's a shot of the backside of Mammoth. The snow there was a mix of sun baked, wind crust, and a little powder.
This is the view of the Hollywood area, with the Hollywood chute rising to the crest far left. The snow in the open below the cliffs was wind affected, but below that I found nice fluffy powder.
The good stuff.

On Saturday I hooked up with my partner Steve and headed up to Punta Bardini in the Sherwins, just south of Mammoth.

Our first run was down the chute falling from left of the summit and our second run was in the forest just below the left skyline.
Getting into the chute required a little "billygoating" in steep, rocky terrain, but once we were down a few hundred feet we found great snow.
We really enjoyed the playful terrain.
We liked the views from the top too.
The next run in the forest was good fun too although it was well tracked. The last run down in the "Telebowls" was a little tricky as the snow had become heavy.
Sunday I decided to take it easy and just take a few runs at the ski area on my new "area" skis. They are last year's Volkl Gotamas mounted with Marker Duke bindings and they skied great!
There had been a light dusting of snow which the wind had piled up nicely here in the lower part of the "Paranoids".
The clearing storm provided some great scenery too.

On Monday I joined my friend Anne and headed back up to the Hollywood area. It was her first tour of the season and I knew we'd find good snow. Mary joined us on cross country gear for the first bit.
This is the stark dead tree zone near Horseshoe Lake.
Here's Anne contemplating her run beneath the handsome cliffs.
And Anne enjoying the powdery sweetness in the trees.
After five great days of skiing I was ready for a break!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Skiing 12/18 & 12/20

It is time for backcountry ski touring at last! The last big storm has given us enough coverage to warrant exploring the wild snow.

Friday, 12/18, I headed out to White Wing, between Mammoth and June Lake. I started at Deadman's summit on Highway 395 and headed in on the groomed XC trails.

Here's a pic of White Wing from the northeast. I traveled around the left, across the sunny slope, up to the summit and down the shady north slope on the right.
From a distance these slopes looked to hold nice powder.
This creek crossing over a shallow snow bridge was definitely the scariest part of the tour.
The "powder" slopes actually held wind affected snow, with plenty of unpleasant breakable crust.
Nevertheless, the views were fine. Here's Chicken Wing (peak left of center), the Mono Craters (low hills right of center) and Mono Lake (distant just below skyline).
This is a view south towards Bloody Peak (left skyline) with animal tracks in the snow.
Yep, twas very wind affected!
A distant view of the Negatives near June Mtn ski area.
The Long Valley Caldera with the White Mountains in the distance.
I enjoyed the lunar landscape up near the summit too.
The skiing down the north face was better than expected on supportable wind board, although I did run into some breakable crust near the bottom. The truly good snow was in the trees near Chicken Wing - velvety powder.

It was wonderful to get out on skis.

Sunday I hooked up with my partner Steve at Convict Lake and headed up a small peak called Mini Morrison owing to its proximity to the larger, impressive Mt. Morrison.

The lower slopes were brushy, with just enough snow to allow ski travel.
We wound our way up towards Old Man's Bowl.
The views from the summit were fine. This pic is looking northwest towards Mt. Wood (large snow slope right of center).
Across the canyon is Mt. Laurel with the astounding Pinner Couloir spilling from its summit.
Steve was kind enough to take a picture of me at the summit with Mt. Morrison behind.
I returned the favor.
The powder in Old Man's Bowl was real nice. I didn't get too many action shots, I was too busy smiling. Here's Steve on the low angle exit from the bowl.
Steve completes the last few feet of the tour with Mini Morrison rising behind him.
We had a super satisfying tour. It was great to get into the mountains, make some turns in good snow, and spend some QT with Steve.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

San Francisco, Big City, Big Race, Big Fun!

After a fine Thanksgiving meal with my Mom in Mammoth, Mary and I awoke the next morning and headed over Sonora Pass to San Francisco. The main impetus for our trip was to race in the Northern California/Nevada District Championships for Cyclocross, but we also wanted to spend some time at the beach, see our friend Henry, and simply be in The City.

We encountered a little rain and wind along the way, but when we got to The City the skies cleared, so we tossed out bags and bikes into our hotel and headed for the beach.
The sky with the moon was real nice (click to enlarge).
A great sunset topped the day off wonderfully.
The next day Mary headed over to the Haight for some shopping while I chilled out and visited the beach again (sorry no pics). We loved the Victorians in the city.
Sunday was race day. I was more than a little intimidated lining up with more than fifty guys.

When the gun went off I fumbled through the gears, unable to get into my big ring quickly while riders gradually streamed by me. The first lap was chaotic with lots of shoulder bumping and I narrowly avoided other riders crashing, sliding, stalling, and bumbling.
By the second lap I found a good rhythm and steadily passed rider after rider. The course was good fun without any real technical sections. The most difficult section was a swooping downhill into a bend, leading to a steep runup, a short slight hill, and a set of barriers. Here I am at the top of the runup.
Cruising and smiling!
Before I knew it the race was over. I was totally stoked so I gave a victory salute over the line.
I ended up 18th out of 52 in the 45+ B division. Only about 30 seconds off the top 10. Yippee!
Yikes! I was ugly, dirty, and real real happy.
I cleaned up, put on my spectator clothes, and settled in to watch the main event.
The rowdy crowd at the runup was huge.
These guys were running second and third the whole race and bunny hopped the barriers every time.
Simon raced the Single Speed A division. Here he is racing in front of his gal, Hallie, who is seen ringin' the cow bell for her man (left in brown).
Simon was concentrated and riding super smoothly.
He ended up a very fine sixth place and was rightly proud.
We joined our friends Henry and Natasha for great Thai food and retired for the evening exhausted and content.

The next morning we headed out for one more trip to the beach.
Mary dipped her feet in the cold ocean.
And contracted a happy case of foam foot.

What a great time we had!
Thanks to Henry, Natasha, Simon, Hallie, Erik and Kelly (friends of Simon's) for helping make this trip great. We will be back.