Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Another Fine Morning in the Alabama Hills

I woke up to a beautiful, calm morning in the Alabama Hills, so I decided to head out for a "pleasure cruise" mountain bike ride. I rode at an easy pace and took time to soak in the views.

Owens Lake was calm - for a change.
But a storm was a brewin' in the Sierra.
I enjoyed single track under a spectacular sky.
And the flowers were spectacular too.

An ideal way to start the work day!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Windy Day in the Southern Owens Valley

I awoke very early once again and enjoyed watching the full moon set behind a wave cloud over the Sierra. A bit later I journeyed out into the balmy morning with barely enough light to see.

The jumbled rock formations are eternally pleasing
Movie Flat with Mt. Williamson shrouded in clouds behind.
Lone Pine Peak over Movie Flat and my sheltered camp spot.
The Scamp is tucked into a nook.
I headed into Keeler to find this scene. A tremendous dust storm!
I got out of Keeler pronto and drove to the west side of the valley to view the dust.

The Owens Valley north of the Lake was filling with dust.
Here are some wild views down to the northwest corner of Owens Lake from the Cottonwood Road.

One of my sites registered gusts exceeding 85mph and the dust readings were incredibly high (several hourly PM10 concentrations of over 10,000 ug/m3). This has been one of the most impressive storms I've seen since I began working at Owens Lake.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Slide Mountain

Steve and I headed up Slide Mountain out of Big Pine today. Steve noted that "Slide Mountain" sounded like a Disney World ride - and it was kinda like a Disney World ride, only better.

This is the view of the approach gully at the bottom of the mountain.
And this is the view of the upper slopes from just beyond the top of the approach gully.
Slide Mountain sits a few mile northeast of the Sierra Crest in the Palisades region. The largest glaciers and some of the finest peaks in the Sierra populate this area including Middle Palisade and Norman Clyde Peak shown here.
The magnificent Mt. Sill dominates the skyline to the southwest along with North Palisade and Starlight Peak to the right.Steve skins the upper slopes with the fine peaks behind.A subpeak near the top featured dozens of interesting fractured outcrops (click to enlarge).
Steve and I enjoyed a brief respite on the summit.And then happily cruised the wide open slopes below.
The lower gully held good snow too. Kid Peak in the background.
After about 5,000 feet of fine Sierra spring skiing we were definitely satisfied!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Alabama Hills Hike

I awoke early to enjoy a pleasant hike in the Alabama Hills. Easy scrambling brought me to the top of one of the many huge outcrops where I soaked in some fine views.

Lone Pine Peak.
Alabama Hills with the Coso Range in the distance.
The flowers are beginning to bloom nicely in the Alabamas, but alas I did not get any good shots of them. I did manage to get this dried Thistle though.
And this interesting rock texture.
My body liked the "non-linear" movement of scrambling, and my head enjoyed the peaceful scenery in the soft morning light.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

White Fang

On Saturday Steve, Anne and I met at Convict Lake with no particular goal in mind except to head up the hanging valley east of Mt. Morrison above Tobacco Flat. For a good while we merely skied up the valley on a sight seeing cruise.

As we neared the head of the canyon White Fang came into view.
A bit further up, a fine chute on the shoulder of White Fang appeared and we had discovered our objective!
Looking up the chute.
Looking down the chute. Steve kicked steps all the way allowing Anne and I a leisurely stroll to the top.
Steve celebrated while Anne tackled the last few steps to the top of the ridge.
When I reached the spine I could see what the celebrating was all about. Fine views like this one of Bloody Mountain (left) and Laurel Mountain (right) abounded.
This is the view north along the ridge toward the south summit of Mt. Morrison.
The skiing in the chute started out pretty good with soft snow over a supportable crust. About halfway down the soft snow disappeared and we skied the firm crust.

The setting was spectacular.
The apron held enjoyable corn snow.
A beautiful day, incredible scenery, a fine chute skied, and good friends all added up to make for a very special day.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Owens Valley Flowers

Driving from my site near Boulder Creek down towards Cartago today, I noticed the southeast facing slopes held a distinctly yellow hue, so I headed up and checked it out.

To my joy, the flowers were in full bloom.

There were lots of varieties, many of which were just starting to open. It should be a beautiful month ahead here in the Owens Valley!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Owens Point

The huge chute falling from Owens Point calls out to any skier looking southeast from the Lone Pine area. Yep, it's the big one left of center (as always click on the pic to enlarge).
It seemed to be a good time to give it a go since the road to the canyon mouth was dry and there appeared to be continuous snow just beyond.

I left the truck just after first light and about fifteen minutes later I arrived at the snow.

Looking down canyon shortly after beginning to skin up.
The view up the chute early morning.
The snow was a typical March transition period hodge podge of sun crust, wind crust, wind board, and soft wind blown, trending more wintery higher up.

This is the view down from my turnaround point.
The view up from my turnaround. Still a ways to go, but I wasn't too excited about getting a bunch more breakable crust.
The skiing was poor up high, worsened in the bottom half of the chute, and became a horror on the traverse out of the canyon. I do not recommend the low elevation, sometimes supportable sun crust over a foot of rotten snow, tree skiing.