Sunday, July 10, 2022

Long Valley Caldera Bike Tour

 First bike tour of the year. I elected to ride the perimeter of the Long Valley Caldera starting and ending in Tom's Place.

This caldera is one of the Earth's largest caldera resulting from a very large eruption 760,000 years ago. The volcanic region is still active with the USGS monitoring ground deformation throughout the area. This is one of their sites near the eastern margin of the caldera.

Looking back to great views of the Sierra.

A spring along the way fed this pool. The air temps weren't real hot, but I took a refreshing dip anyhow.


More expansive views. There were three very difficult hike-a-bike sections in this zone. Pushing the loaded bike up deep sand pushed my heart rate into the red.

Next stop was Wilfred Creek.


No ponds, but I was able to get wet here too. Poked around and found debris from an old homestead.

Back on the road I traversed the southern edge of the Glass Mountains.

And after a short climb, found myself in O' Harrel Canyon, my destination for the day.

Wonderful little creek.

There's one nice campsite in the canyon. Thankfully no one else was there.

After dinner I went for little stroll to admire the scenery.


Pretty area. I had never been here before.


Next morning I was back on the bike bright and early. I found cool temps and easy riding down along the Owens River.

The Lupine and the Prickly Poppy were in full bloom in the burn area east of Alpers Ranch.

Took a break at Big Springs. Got wet, topped off my water bottle, and admired the lush beauty of the creek.

After Big Springs I rode briefly up 395 to Deadman Creek Road which I followed to the end at the wilderness boundary. The old growth Red Fir here are amazing.

Wonderful little creeks too.

Sweet campsite. I took another delightful hike after dinner exploring the forest and the tributaries of Deadman Creek.

Next morning started with an easy coast down peaceful Deadman Creek Road

Then a sublime cruise through the pumice flats north of Mammoth Mountain (far right).


I hopped into Mammoth for some snacks and a break, then tackled the long, but surprisingly enjoyable slog back to Tom's Place.

Great tour!
 

Friday, May 6, 2022

South Lake

 It's great to be home! I figured I'd check on conditions in the "backyard" up South Lake way. The road is open to the trailhead and the walk along the lake is a breeze. Snow is patchy up to about 10,000' but coverage is good above that.

 Views from the parking lot. I wound up skiing the bowl far left.

South Lake is extremely low.

Hurd Peak and the large bowl beneath.

The ridge above the bowl offered fine views of the lower Treasure Lakes and Treasure Bowl.

I skied the most western part of the bowl where the corn had cooked quite nicely.

I went back up today for a longer tour. Unfortunately I got a little sunscreen or some other spluge on my lens and didn't notice. Call it "dream mode", hah!


Cruised up the drainage above the lakes. Mt Johnson in the back.

The uppermost Treasure Lake.

The descent consisted of several little bowls like this one. Maybe an hour or so later than ideal but still skied well.

Pretty scene at the lowest Treasure Lake.


 A short hike got me into the bowl I skied day before yesterday. I ran into a few patches of isothermal death snow, but surfed through that ok and got down in one piece.

Great to be on skis in the Sierra again!

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Pika Glacier

 I spent last week on the Pika Glacier in Denali National Park. Our crew consisted of my long time friend Jed and two other guides, Eric & Josh, along with myself and four other clients, Yuki, Brendan, Eric and Matt.

 We collected the troops and our gear in Anchorage, drove up to Talkeetna, and boarded this 1954 DeHavilland Otter bush plane for our flight to the glacier.

Great views on the flight in.

That's Denali poking above the clouds on the left.

Once we got the gear off the plane and transferred it to our camp site it was time to stamp out the "beach" so that we could walk around without postholing.

Once that task was done we had time for a short afternoon tour at the head of the Pika. Looking down to camp. The Royal Tower (left) and the Throne (right).

The first few turns were a little crusty, but improved on the descent. Eric enjoys the first turns of the trip!

Early evening on the glacier. Massive Mt Foraker in the distance right. At 17,400' it is the third highest peak in the U.S.


The next day we took an exploratory tour to suss out conditions and scope out touring options. Jed took this one of us climbing near a large crevasse.
 
Jed and Matt chat before heading up into the huge cirque between the Hobbit King and the Throne. We found decent corn skiing on the slopes to the left.

 
Jed and Matt traverse to the corn slope with the Pika Glacier below and the Royal Tower left.

Wow.

Home sweet home.

After a tasty lunch served up by our guides, we headed up to ski the Munchkin glacier. We wound our way up and right over the shallow saddle, then enjoyed a real nice run down to the Pika on settled powder. Jed took this one of the crew heading up.

Next day we elected to ski Italy's Boot. Matt skins up the lower slopes.

Jed snapped this shot of me below the stunning serac.

One of our guides Eric enjoys good first turns high above the Pika with the massive Kahiltna Glacier left.

Slopes that had received any sun were crusty, but dead north slopes skied quite well. Jed caught me throwing some cold snow.

Another Jed shot. Me descending next to the serac.

 
The following day the guides decided to take us to the Crown Glacier to ski what they dubbed "The Triple Crown", three fine north facing lines above the glacier we had seen on recon day.

Jed and Eric gab with the shoulder to the left and the ramp to the right.

This day and the next we split into two groups. Jed guiding myself, Yuki, and Brendan, while Eric & Josh guided Matt and the client Eric.

Our group won the rock/paper/scissors and chose the ramp for our first run. Jed took this photo of us on the established skin track. Kick turn city!

 
Soon enough we were off the skis and onto ascent plates for the climb to our high point. Another pic from Jediah near our top out. Steep but not scary thanks to the deep, soft snow.


More Jed fine photography caught me in the middle of a hop turn. I kinda thrashed my way down with a hip check or two. Not pretty.

 
Jed also grabbed this cool shot of Yuki, myself, and Brendan booting up the last pitch to the top of the shoulder.

 
Gazing up the ramp. Our tracks on the left and the other group skinning up on the right.

 
These huge walls towered over the head of the Crown Glacier. The other group is on the glacier after their run down the shoulder.

Not a great pic, but it shows the shoulder, the ramp, and the col from left to right.

The next day dawned bright and beautiful. The agenda for the day was steeps. Cool! Our party skied the couloir far right on the Crown Jewel.
Jed at work.

Jed once again came through with some great photos. Yuki, myself, and Brendan ascend with camp below.


The skiing in the couloir was great. With deep light snow and angles approaching fifty degrees it was a steep skiers delight.

After a little chips & salsa break at camp we headed around the corner and skied this beauty. We followed the other party's boot pack up near the rocky choke, then skied straight down finding excellent snow the bottom 2/3s of the run.

Yuki approaches the bergschrund while Jed waits.

Jed also got this shot of me skiing down and approaching the bergschrund.

Our run of luck with the weather finally ran out on our last full day on the glacier. Definitely a bit of a disappointment as Jed had planned a great tour for us, but we could hardly complain. We felt fortunate to have had the wonderful tours the previous days.

All was not lost however! The weak storm began to clear by 7:30pm.

The gang rallied for a delightful twilight tour.




Last turns of the trip.

Yet another stunning dusk.

The next morning the plane came to whisk us back to civilization.


Huge thanks to the whole group. Jed, Eric, and Josh were outstanding guides and great dudes. Matt, Brendan, Yuki, and Eric were so much fun to tour with and kill countless hours hanging in camp with. 

So many laughs. So much thoughtful conversation. Plenty of goofing too. Loved the chemistry!!