Thursday, December 30, 2010


Steve, Anne and I got together and initially headed up the South Fork of Bishop Creek from the road end to see what looked good. We headed part way up a broad gully when we decided that the skiing was going to be awful there. The wind had formed the skiers nemesis; breakable crust.

We skied back to the car, drove the short distance to Habeggar's, and skinned up the old road to the glades, hoping that they held good snow as they usually do.

As we traveled up the slopes the big views opened up and we could see that the winds were still howling over the higher peaks. Thankfully the wind was light in the glades, although it was downright frigid, with temps in the teens most of the day.
Here's Steve and Anne on the ridge eager to take the first run of the day.
Anne drops in.
The snow proved to be quite good, as Steve will attest.
Anne was smiling too.
Love them glades!
I thought we did a darn good job of salvaging the day given our initial disappointment.

The overall snow stability was good. We saw no shooting cracks nor did we experience any collapsing snow. There were hollow sounding slabs, but we did not encounter them in steep terrain.

There was evidence of several small slabs that appeared to release during the most recent storm. They were in the 4" to 6" range. Wind deposited snow and/or additional snowfall obscured the crowns and debris. They mostly occurred on North, Northeast, and East facing slopes amongst or just below rock outcrops.

In more open areas the wind had created dangerous looking crossloading in many of the gullies, although we saw no natural releases of these slabs.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Skiing

On Christmas Eve Mary and I joined Steve, and his daughter, Emma for a day at June Mountain Ski Area.

The atmosphere at June is pleasantly relaxed, the views astounding, and powder can often be found days after the last storm.

Here's Mary in black and Emma in blue with Mono Lake obscured by the winter fog known as Pokonip.
Steve watches as Emma heads into the trees in search of powder patches.
Fun day!

On Christmas Day I rallied for an afternoon ski after a morning of opening gifts and sipping Mimosas with my family.

I headed over to Punta Bardini, made good time up the well established skin track, and enjoyed the views of Long Valley and the nearby Sherwins as a storm rolled in.

I managed to find some nice, untracked lines in the Old Growth, and topped the day off with a center punch down the eastern Tele Bowl.
The snow was great, if felt like a foot plus over a spongy, supportable base.

Steve, Mary, and I headed back to June on Sunday.

While Mary had a great day on the groomers, Steve and I headed O.B. to the treed slopes known as Hemlock.

We reached a small summit on the long ridge north of the Negatives and ate lunch while soaking in the fine views.

Here's Ritter and Banner poking up over the Sierra Crest south of Carson Peak.
Steve enjoyed a few Christmas cookies.
The skiing in Hemlock was nothing short of incredible.

Deep, light snow, steep slopes, big smiles!
The lower slopes above Four Seasons skied very nicely too.
Santa (and Ullr) was good to me this year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Table Mountain

An incredible, gorgeous day.

I was fairly time constricted today, so I opted for a quick tour up Table Mountain from the South Fork of Bishop Creek.

I was amazed by the incredible snow depth and pleased by the snow quality.

The views didn't hurt the eyes either.

Looking west towards Bishop Bowl and Mt. Emerson.
The big Owens Valley behind my skin track.
There was no sign of avalanche activity in Jawbone Canyon. I was glad.
I skied up & down real conservatively given the recent huge snow totals, but I was impressed with the overall stability.

The skiing was nothing short of great.
Had to go up for another lap!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Owens Valley Cyclocross Finale

Sunday we held the seventh and final Owens Valley Cyclocross for 2010.

The weather was spectacular, 70 degrees and not a hint of wind.

Hence the turnout was terrific.
Nemo's course layout was super fun with twists, turns, and runups.

Here he lines up to ride the short hill that everyone else had to run.
And this is me running said hill.A group of four of us got off the front early, but Nemo's steady, grinding pace gradually took its toll and we found ourselves riding on our own.
I was able to muster a satisfying second place, while Nemo (center) made it look easy, and BxCx (right) rolled in just behind me.
Fine Belgian Style Ale was soon consumed (after the PBR) along with some delicious Brats.

Thanks to all that showed up and made this the best 'cross season EVER in the Owens Valley!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Blue Crag Area

After a fine day skiing lifts at Mammoth I was ready for a peaceful tour in the Mammoth backcountry.

I headed up to the Blue Crag area in the Mammoth Lakes Basin primarily for the fine alpine scenery this area serves.

Travel was fast and easy on a frozen rain crust (mid elevations) and wind crust (higher elevations).

This is the view of the Ship's Prow area.
And shortly thereafter the views of the Blue Crag area emerged. The massive block on the left is Blue Crag proper.
One of my favorite runs from last year was here in the "Blue Pinnacles" area.
And the views northwest towards Mammoth Mountain.
I skinned up towards the crest, arriving at a steep rollover where I dug a quick hasty pit. I found a thin wind crust over a spongy, dense layer which sat over granular low density snow. It took a bit of an effort to pull a block out, but the "upside down" or hollow type structure gave me pause, so I turned around.

The turns down required focus and a bit of extra effort, but the snow was consistent and the skiing fun until I reached the mid elevation rain crust.

In the shade the snow was crusty and fast and in the sun the snow was quickly turning to gloppy mush - and this was well before noon! Conservative survival skiing was the order of the day.

Certainly not the best skiing, but the weather and scenery were terrific!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Alabama Hills

The coming of winter also means I get to camp in the Alabama Hills during the work week.

A sunrise stroll & scramble is surely a grand way start the day.

It's more than great to be back here.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ski Season Has Begun!

Now that Cyclocross season is winding down, it's time to ski!

I hooked up with my buddy Jed for a tour in the Mammoth Lakes Basin.

Here's Jed breaking trail above Horseshoe Lake.
The weather was decidedly wintry - which was fine by us.

Jed surveys the scene with Mammoth Crest behind.
We skied the area known as "Hollywood" just west of the popular Red Cone where we found great boot top powder.
Coverage is looking pretty good in these parts although Jed & I both managed to tap a few rocks. Right now the Lakes Basin is pretty much the only game in town unless you are willing to brave extremely thin conditions.

Great skiing, fine scenery, and enjoying it all with a good friend, I could not have asked for more on the first tour of the season.

Think Snow!