Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Eastern Mammoth Crest Tour

I followed one fine day in the mountains with another.

Joined Rick and Lacey and skinned up towards Duck Pass in the Mammoth Lakes Basin.

We arrived at Barney Lake, below the pass, to find wind wrecked Barney Bowl.

Nice views of the peaks beyond Duck Pass (foreground).

We skinned up and around to the right and took a short run on this slope. Kinda like yesterday's wind eroded snow, but chunkier.

We then skinned up to a little saddle above Sky Meadows where we enjoyed the views.

We found decent soft snow in the shady aspects.

Lacey kept the telemark stoke going.

Skinned up again in the trees and found fine skiing.
This little chute and the glades below provided the best skiing of the day.
Covered a lot of ground!
Was nice to enjoy a good long day in the mountains with some new partners.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Patricia Peak

Ever since I enjoyed this view of Patricia Peak back on 1/11, I have been wanting to ski the big, broad slopes from the summit.

I hooked up with Steve and headed back up Rock Creek. Again.

The Junipers were in their perpetual fine form.

We chose to attain the upper slopes by following my old skin track to the southeast shoulder, then up and around this sub peak.

Interesting downhill & traversing skinning through here.

Decent skinning the rest of the way to the summit.

Summit registers.

Other attractions in the neighborhood.

We were both pretty surprised and very pleased to find consistently good, fun skiing all the way down the     big slopes on wind eroded, soft snow

We did find a little firmer snow below in a chute, but otherwise the skiing was great.

What a day.
What a nice little ski peak!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Another Dawn Patrol at Rock Creek

I got in another dawn patrol ski today with good 'ol Nemo.
My legs finally loosened up and the weather warmed up too.

Nemo enjoys the skin up in the Junipers.

Same high point as last week.
Same fantastic scenery.

The snow, however, was not the same.
While not as soft and fluffy as last week, this wind eroded snow skied pretty nicely.

A couple of grouches had a good time and came back degrouched.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Cold Day In The Hills

Jumping whole hog straight into ski mode has been a bit hard on the body, so I took it easy this weekend. 
I did manage to get out for a short outing with Nemo Sunday.

I scooped him up early thinking we might be able to get back in time to view the U.S. National Cyclocross Championships.  

It turned out to the wrong day for getting out early.
-17 degrees F is about as crazy cold as I've ever experienced!

Fortunately it warmed up a bit as we climbed up. 

Probably was a balmy zero degrees on top.

Nemo noticed this interesting snow sculpture.
As the snow pealed off the stump it rolled into a nice spiral.

The snow in these north facing trees is still skiing great.

There was only an inch or two of new snow here, but the cold air and lack of sun has been keeping it soft.

I'll likely always remember this day.
The day I was dopey enough to ski when it was -17deg!!

Oh yeah.
To follow up.
We were able to catch parts of the cyclocross race streaming on Nemo's IPhone.
Real happy for every guy on that podium.
Page, Zach, and Driscoll ruled the tough, tough day.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Rock Creek Dawn Patrol

Despite the frigid temps I rallied for my first "before work dawn patrol tour" of the year.
Watching the sun come up in the high country is amazing and inspiring.

A northwest wind was blowing over the ridges and peaks, but not much below that.
 The big wall above Patricia Lake was breathtaking.
Patricia Peak (I think) back right. Had to do a far amount of flatish skinning to get back in here, but it was worth it.
Attained the ridge just left of the pic above. Sporting some new/old backcountry sticks. Bought these Dynastars years ago for Tele skiing at the ski area. Put some inserts in 'em and now they're touring skis!
 Found real sweet skiing off the ridge in the peckerwoods.

Not surprisingly, some of the open stuff up high was wind affected. Shallow slabs were forming on east and southeast slopes up near the ridge. Not reacting (no cracks or collapses), but worth paying attention to.

Even the moraine below skied well. A sun crust has screwed up much of it, but northeast facing was still fine. Very subtle changes in aspect made a big difference!

Good one.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

South Fork Bishop Creek

I took a lunch break yesterday to check how bad conditions were up the South Fork of Bishop Creek.

Brushy and rocky at Table Mountain.
The road has just enough snow to prevent driving. OK for XC skiing except the pole tips tapping the asphalt much of the time. Nice snow for kicking and gliding.
 Someone scratched out a few turns in here. Hmmm.
 Might be able to put something together here. Probably not worth it.
 Nice cruising on the skinny sticks in here.
Good to go with a couple more feet.
Not in the forecast though.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Mammoth Backcountry

I had a great weekend skiing in the Mammoth area.

First ski of the year with my buddy Nemo. We found some very nice steep, untracked tree shots in the Sherwins. The snow was staying light in the cold air and the open glades were a joy to ski. The exact location will not be revealed although I will say we skinned up from the bottom. Use your imagination. 

Nemo was appropriately stoked. 
 He liked this. So did I!

The next day I hooked up with my long time partner Stephen for a tour up Blue Crag way in the Mammoth Lakes Basin.

No tracks here either.
I've had my eye on the Blue Crag Couloir for a long time. Usually the middle section is scoured out, but it's currently filled in nicely.
We elected to head up the chute system just to the west for ease of travel. 

I skied this chute system back in '10 blue crag 2010 and in '09 mammoth crest 2009 (see bottom of post).

After skinning up to the throat we elected to boot up the wind buff which proved to be an efficient choice.
We then skinned over to the top of the Blue Crag Couloir. The upper section was edgeable wind buff and would have been ok, but there would have been a lot of sideslipping through the tight spots, so we elected to head back and ski the pinnacled chute.
 The views from the crest are great. Looking north to the top of the Sherwins (mid field) and Mono Lake (distant).
 The windbuff off the top provided tolerably decent skiing.
 Mid way down there was fluffy snow with patches of crust which kept us on our toes.
 The lower apron skied pretty well.
It was great to get up in the alpine zone and operate in the steep zone a little bit.
Special place for sure.
Thanks Steve!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Ski Day with Mary

My wife had heard just about enough of how great the skiing has been. She wanted some of the action too and who could blame her?

I had to dig around the garage a little to get her gear all together (which skins go with those skis?).

Took her back to the sort of secret spot.

Her long hikes with our dog payed off fitness wise as she had no problem going up.
 Ready to ski the down!
 The snow quality had not diminished at all since my last visit.
 We managed to find several more nice, untracked glades.
 The husband is happy when the wife is happy!
That caps off my Christmas holiday ski fest!
Nice to get into the ski groove for sure.