Sunday, February 26, 2012

Hidden Cirque/Mammoth Crest

Today I skied up beneath the Mammoth Crest, heading up to where I was two weeks ago.

Found a different/better approach.

This is the area around the Ship's Prow (right).
I had noticed on maps that the wooded ridge led to a hanging cirque, but on the way up I just couldn't see it. Trust the map! Sure enough I found myself in this nice hanging cirque.
Did a short run down along the sun/shade line (variable) in the above pic, then headed up this nicely protected slope.
Turned around when it got to be about 6" of new snow on a hard crust, although I later wished I had persevered, because the skiing was good from the get go.

Once back on the ridge I found my way to this chute. Nice skiing above the throat. Wind packed and scratchy in the throat.
Took a little "hike" over beneath Hammill Bowl. Wind hammered.
Got this long shot of the top of the run I did in the hidden cirque.
The sugar snow in the trees held the most consistent skiing of the day, although you had to watch out for the sun crust.
All in all the snow quality ain't that great, but you can find some decent pockets here and there.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Got a quick one in before work.

Checked out the wooded knob above Aspendell & North Lake.
At the top I got some views up towards Paiute Pass.
and south over Lake Sabrina.
and the depressingly dry view northeast.
The sugar in the glades skied well, but rocks lurked.
Nice spot.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Baldwin Cirque

This morning I joined my friends Anne & Stewart for a tour up McGee Creek to Baldwin Cirque.

The road is easily passable to the pack station and, with the right vehicle, all the way to the trail head.

The skies were generally clear first thing. Baldwin Cirque is the area farthest left in the sun with Mount Baldwin on the sky line.
The snow is nearly continuous up along the summer trail, but far from plentiful. Once we left the trail the first few hundred feet were a bit thin, but coverage was generally good higher. Rocks were definitely lurking all day though.

Stewart skins up into the cirque proper as the skies darkened.
Mt. Baldwin with a particularly attractive & burly couloir.
Owing to the lack of snow in the cirque we headed up and left at the entrance.
We skinned up the chute on the left here. The dark veins among the white limestone were particularly striking.
We reached the top of the chute as the weather worsened.

Anne side slips the firm snow in the entrance as Stewart skis below.
The snow was a bit wind affected and variable, but the skiing was decent enough to be considered fun.
A great locale I had not visited before, but hope to return to when there is more snow.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bishop Bowl

I finally got out and enjoyed the new snow.

Solo trip up Bishop Bowl.

The moraine above Aspendell is basically dry, so I endured about an hour of hiking to get to the snow. Which put me quite a ways east of the usual approach gully. So another hour of skinning brought me to the base of the slopes.

Went up the trees just right of the open slope in the center.

There was absolutely no evidence of wind affecting the new fallen snow. It had a uniform depth of about 12", a little more up high, a little less low.
It made for a lot of work trail breaking.
After five hours I finally arrived at the North Ridge and was duly rewarded with this fine view of the Paiute Crags and Mt. Emerson.
I had no inclination to head to the summit another 400' above me.
The view north to Basin and Tom.
The skiing was fantastic all the way down.
Coverage was fine in the trees where the snow depth was 2' to 3', but many of the open slopes were nothing but a foot of new, light snow over talus.

I did experience some collapsing snow layers and some short cracks with slight soft slab movement on some of my kick turns. The descent was all low angle. Steeper, convex slopes in this area are suspect for the time being.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Mammoth Lake Basin Skiing

Pretty much a broken record here, back to the Mammoth Lakes Basin where the both the snow quantity and quality are the best these days.

Saturday Nemo and I skied the TJ Lake/Bowl area.

Skinning up just below treeline.
Open slopes above treeline are pretty wind affected although decent skiing can be found here and there.
The "Four Spot" of Lakes Mamie, Mary, TJ and George.
Protected slopes below treeline are still skiing really well.

Me goofin'.
A hucker I am not.
Late afternoon saw some moody weather & scenes.
Backside of the Sherwins.
Sunday broke bright and clear.
Went for the highest trees I could find.

Once again enjoyed good skiing in protected glades.
I booted up this short steep chute to gain the upper ridge.
Where terrific views and decent skiing were found.
Cloud forming over Mammoth portends more snow.
Good times.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Little George Lake

Went for my first solo tour of the year today.

Drove up to Aspendel and skied up the summer trail along the east shore of Lake Sabrina.
The trail was nicely packed by snowshoes and skiers, so it was easy to make good time to the back of the lake. Then I broke trail up the George Creek drainage to the vicinity of Little George Lake.

Had hopes of skiing the bowl above Little George Lake (right of center in pic), but as I drew closer I realized it was way too thin and fairly wind hammered too.
Enjoyed some nice views though, from left Mt. Emerson, Paiute Crags, and Mt. Tom.
Then had a hoot skiing back down. The faceted/sugar snow skied really well. Rocks and brush were part of the bargain though.
A good quicky before work.

Monday, February 6, 2012

McLeod Lake

After the long, scenic tour to Pika Peak Saturday, I hooked up with Nemo Sunday for a shorter tour for turns under Mammoth Crest above McLeod Lake.

Nemo skins across the lake.
Was nice to get up under the big cliffs.
Backside of Mammoth.
Nemo handled camera duties for a bit and got a few pics of me.
Thanks Nemo!

Ready to go up high.
Found some crust up here, but some soft snow too.
Lower in the trees was better.

Found some real nice stuff in here.
Good one!

Pika Peak Attempt

High pressure (again) prevails, so on Saturday Steve and I took a long tour out of the Mammoth Lakes Basin to take a shot at Pika Peak.

Travel was easy owing to the settled snow and wind pack, but also because two skiers ahead of us broke trail all the way!

Steve approaches Duck Pass on Barney Lake.
Barney Bowl looking thin and wind affected, although there appeared to be some decent runs available.
The pair of skiers in front of us headed up the west shoulder (right) of Pika Peak while we headed for the north face (left).
Steve skins across Pika Lake on the way to base of the north face.
We skinned up this attractive lower chute on the north face until just above the throat where we found a fairly stout, but not supportable, wind crust.
Camera died whilst I was attempting take some pics at the turnaround thus no action shots.

Once we got through the throat we had pretty decent skiing on soft, wind eroded snow down to Pika Lake. Then a long, but scenic slog brought us back to the trailhead.

Nice to take a full day in the hills and have a go at an aesthetic line.
We'll be back.