Thursday, April 29, 2010

More Fun in The Alabama Hills

No time to ski, too windy & cold to ride (or is that too wimpy?), so I went for an early morning hike/scramble from camp.

I never tire of the amazing rock formations, especially in the morning light.
I found the flowers pleasing too.

Another great start to a work day!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Alabama Hills Mountain Bike

This morning I went for a super pleasant mountain bike ride from my camp in the Alabama Hills. I just spun along easily enjoying the balmy temperatures and the great scenery.

The Scamp was tucked in nicely for last night's and today's big winds.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Heap of the Week

I spent the rest of the weekend working in our yard and riding the bike. We had an incredibly nice ride Sunday out in Round Valley.

It appears there was some good skiing to be had in the north facing, sheltered chutes, but I did not rally. See
this link
and this one:

I figured I should get something on the blog today, and with a major wind event in the forecast for tomorrow, I went out to find this week's Heap of the Week.

I headed around the cornet to the Keeler Market.
Although not currently in business, they were most certainly were at one time.

I imagine those HSU (Humboldt State University) Geology students bought a lot of beer here.
This beautiful heap was lovingly parked in a car port next to the store.

I Love spoked wheels!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tyee Shot

With lots of chores and errands to run today I decided to get in a "quickie" this morning.

I bought a new pair of skis for a trans-Sierra tour Steve and I are doing in a couple of weeks. They are Seven Summits from Dynafit. I figured I should give them a try. Despite their narrow waist (78mm) I thought I'd ski a little powder.

Here they are on their maiden voyage.
Just north of the Tyee Lakes drainage is an impressive cirque with lots of decent lines. I chose the most north facing chute, hoping the sun's effect on the snow would be minimized.

The head of the cirque offers many fine lines that are almost always guarded by huge cornices.
This southeast facing chute was cooking up nicely after our latest storm.
Near the top of the chute I was eagerly anticipating a great powder run.
I attained the ridge and admired the views. The Inconsolable Range is on the left skyline and the Tyee Lakes drainage is in the right foreground.
After a couple of ski cuts with no results, I jumped into the chute. Knowing I might start a sluff, I shifted skier's right and pulled up. Sure enough, a large sluff was chugging down the center of the chute entraining quite a lot of snow (click to enlarge).
The skiing was ok. The snow still seemed cold and light, but I often hit the old crust underneath despite the 6" to 10" depth - maybe I could have used some fatter skis!

Further down, the slopes turn more eastward and were getting a little sloppy. I figured wet slides were likely on the rollovers and when I cut one - sure enough!
I skied down carefully to the car. The new skis were surprisingly good in the thick stuff.

Not exactly a sweet powder run, but an interesting tour anyway.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Heap of the Week

For this week's "Heap of the Week" I headed down the street to Keeler Beach. - "Hazmat suits required at all times." "This beautiful setting provided by L.A. Water Dept."

Worth a visit.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Thor Peak

Now that the road to Whitney Portal is open I figured I'd head up and try a ski up the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek. I kinda hoped I could ski more or less from the Portal, but I was way wrong. After nearly two hours of hiking I finally arrived here, just above Lower Boy Scout Lake.

I headed up this slope towards Thor Peak.
These were the views down valley from the same spot.
The other disappointment for the day was the lack of new snow. Most places received a dusting at best, with up to 4" in the most drifted in spots. The clouds moved in and out all day, but no appreciable snow fell.

The view north towards Pinnacle Ridge (I think).
As I headed up the lower slopes there was a near constant sound of rock and/or ice fall that was a bit disconcerting. I believe the icicles and ice curtains that had formed during the cold night were melting and crashing off the cliffs.

I gained the moderate eastern slopes of Thor Peak and enjoyed these views of Mt. Carrilon (left) and environs.
The summit of Thor Peak provided these views of Mt. Whitney as the clouds darkened.
The skiing was alright on the lower slope. I almost always hit the old, firm crust, but the new 2" to 4" made turning pretty easy.

Looking back at the slope I skied.

I side-slipped, bushwhacked, and survival skied down this section to the creek crossing where I was more than happy to take the skis off and hike on a mostly dry trail.
Not the greatest skiing, but a nice tour nonetheless.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Scramble in the 'Bamas

I woke up this morning to strong south winds which were not encouraging me to get on the bike, so I opted to scramble up some of the beautiful rock formations in the Alabama Hills where I am camped.

And one for the skiers. Langley looking extremely inviting as the storm starts to crank up.
I am looking forward to making turns tomorrow!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Esha Peak

Despite the recent warm spell, Steve and I still had powder on our minds, so we settled on the idea of skiing the north facing chutes of Esha Peak

Here's a view of the peak looking up Esha Canyon.
The dangers for the day included a creek crossing....
and wet snow avalanches.
We skinned up easily on the low elevation corn.
The peak drew closer, but at a disturbingly slow rate.

We ended up skiing the left chute, partially shaded in this pic.
At long last we reached the northwest ridge and enjoyed fine views and a refreshing breeze.

This is the view to the west of Mt. Baldwin, White Fang, and Mt. Morrison (on the skyline).
Looking down Esha Canyon at Lake Crowley, Long Valley, and the Glass Mountains.
The hike up the ridge was no cakewalk involving boulder hopping and an occasional class 3 move.
Steve's energy was subpar on the ascent, but he persevered. On the summit his outlook brightened appreciably.
Looking down our chosen line. Powder!
Steve teled the steep headwall in fine fashion...
and let it rip in the broad main chute.

Most of the snow in the lower canyon was a bit thick, but decent. Here Steve finds some nice corn.
Hey, I thought this was supposed to be a ski trip!?
Since the road was not plowed and has not melted much, we had to start less than a mile above Highway 395 which made for a long approach and quite a long day overall. Fortunately a couple of guys from Reno were relaxing at the cars and provided us with hugely appreciated cold beer. Twas a splendid way to top off a fine day in the hills.