Tuesday, April 27, 2010

South Lake

The day after we skied the Matterhorn, Oscar and I drove on down to South Lake, just outside of Bishop, CA. The past weekend marked "Fishmas", or opening weekend for fishing season in the Eastern Sierra. This event is celebrated not only by anxious fishermen, but also by backcountry skiers excited to gain easier access to unbelievable ski terrain. The parking area at South Lake is at 9,500 feet making it a breeze to hike the 5 summits above 13,000 feet in the area. In the photo below my friend Oscar hikes across a still frozen South Lake with Hurd Peak dominating the skyline. Our first objective for the day is out of sight behind the peak in the right of the photo. Be sure to look for the people ice fishing in the lower left of the shot...After several hours of hiking we finally caught a glimpse of our first objective for the day, Mt. Johnson. Mt. Johnson is 12,871 feet at the summit, and a long way from the car. This aesthetic face has a number of skiable lines, but right now the only one that goes through is the chute on the lookers right of the peak. A while later and we're almost to the top of the chute. Unfortunately someone had skied our line the day before, but the snow was still really good and there was plenty of room left for us to make nice turns. Oscar makes his way up the bootpack towards the top of Mt. Johnson, the Bishop Creek drainage heads west down the valley behind us, and notice the White Mountains across the Owens Valley in the distance. And dropping, the reward for the slog was good, very good. I actually got a shot of me skiing too! The chute was good top to bottom, and we enjoyed smooth snow all the way over to the base of Hurd Peak.
Once you are all the way back to Mt. Johnson, the east face of Hurd Peak(12,237ft) is "on the way" back to the car. The inviting steep powder slope just couldn't be passed up so we skinned around and booted up for a lap. The short bootpack was tough after our already long day of hiking and skiing, but we were handsomely rewarded with powder turns.
Oscar pillages the fresh powder on the east face of Hurd Peak. We skied good quality snow all the way to the lake.

While on the top of Hurd Peak I spied my next line in the South Lake area, it is the obvious crescent shaped chute in the photo below. I'm not exactly sure why but this just calls to me and I can't seem to take my eyes off it, maybe I'll get to ski in the next week or so...

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