Sunday, May 29, 2011

More May fun, and Pow!!!

So, Its late May. Our coverage throughout the state of California is truly without precedent. Interestingly it won't stop snowing. In fact, we got 10 inches of snow overnight last night up high. Toiday was yet another great May powder day. Alpine Meadows is closed for the season and that is actually great because it makes for a great place to go touring. I spent the morning up there today and got 6 or so runs of really good powder skiing, especially for late May!!!

Prior to our recent powder storm I went down to the southern Sierra with the hopes of getting it good for a couple days. Turns out that my timing wasn't great and it was windy as hell. Tioga pass opened for the season on Thursday and on friday morning it was so windy that no one was willing to go up there. We changed our plan and headed farther south where the winds were supposed to be mellower. It was our first time to Onion Valley/Kearsarge Pass and the winds were still incredible. We toughed it out and in the end we had a pretty good ski day in a new part of the range that none of us have ever explored. We almost made it to the summit of University Peak, 13,632 ft. but we were thwarted by the insane winds. Regardless we had a pretty fun ski..

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Last week in the High Sierra

Last week the weather finally broke for long enough to get out an a long tour in the eastern Sierra. The weather window was only a couple of days and with work I only managed to head down south for a day and a night. That being said, our one day tour was big enough to tide me over for several days...
We headed down to Bridgeport, CA on the night of the 11th and crashed at our friend Tina's house. We got up and had a casual morning while we juggled our options for local ski tours. We decided on skiing the north couloir of Twin Peaks out of Twin Lakes. It seemed like a reasonable objective with options for extra shredding if we wanted. We blasted up to the bottom of Twin Peaks and completely changed our minds and headed much deeper into the range on a mega-tour. The photo above is of the east face of Virginia Peak, one of our objectives for the day, that's 2,000 vert...
Glen, Oscar, Andrew, Tina, Mark, and myself walked up the Horse Creek drainage and up to Burro Pass, between the Matterhorn and Twin Peaks. We crossed over onto the western slope of the Sierra briefly as we traversed to the west side of Virginia Peak, an obscure and rarely skied peak. We scrambled up some rock and wrapped around to the east slope of the peak and bootpacked up the slope to the summit. We reveled in the view and beauty of the day on this narrow fin of rock in the middle of one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world.
After a brief rest we dropped in on one of the steepest skiable slopes in the Sierra, for a couple turns at least... Other than a bit of loose wet snow sloughing down the slope the skiing was better than expected. Fun steep turns on a mountain that none of had skied before, not even Glen!
After skiing the east slope of Virginia Peak we weighed our options and decided to head back to Twin Lakes via the Cattle Creek Col, only a couple miles and few thousand vertical feet away. What's a couple miles and thousand vert when you're already on the biggest ski tour of the season anyway?
A little while later we found ourselves atop the Cattle Creek headwall between Twin Peaks and Monument Peak. Luckily there was great north facing chute for us to ski that was full of, you guessed it, powder!!! And only 5,000 vertical feet back to the car. We all enjoyed the heck out of the run and despite our tired legs everyone ripped the shit out of it.
After a couple miles of downhill skiing we found ourselves back to the cars at the shore of Twin Lakes with ice cold beers and really big smiles. 17 miles and 8,000 vertical feet, not too bad for a bunch of out of shape tahoe skiers. It was great to check a couple cool new lines off our lists and another great day to spend in the mountains with friends...

More May Powder

My calendar may say May 17th, but is sure still feels like winter here. Maycember, Maybruary, call it what you will because its snowing to beat the band here in Tahoe. The ski areas are closing and you can't really blame them. People are done skiing for the year. Flowers were blooming, snow was melting off at lake level incredibly fast, and then it started snowing, again... Overnight we got 8 inches at my house. I expected very little from this storm and we got quite a bit more than I bargained for. America's biggest professional bike race, the Tour of California, came to Lake Tahoe for the first time over the past weekend. The first stage was called off due to snow, the second stage was cut by half the distance and the start was moved from Squaw Valley to Nevada City. I can't blame them, there's no way I was going to ride a road bike either, I was too busy skiing powder...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

May skiing

May in Lake Tahoe can mean any number of things. Generally it means the end of the season, the transition to working and mountain biking. This year we've got unprecedented snow coverage and the ski season is far from over. The ski areas are starting to dial back operations regardless of the coverage and we've been driving to the foothills to shred on our bikes. We will be skiing well into the month of July this year, the high peaks of the Sierra and even the mountains around Lake Tahoe should probably offer good skiing for quite some time. That being said, I've never had a chance to ski M1 in munchkins during the month of May, so this afternoon I went ahead and skied it a couple times. It was pretty good.

Tallac 4/26/11

On Tuesday April 26th I headed up to Mt. Tallac with John Morrison for a few laps on some of the sweet steep terrain up there. We'd gotten some new snow over the previous few days and the conditions were great for some steep skiing. There was a little ice in spots, but mostly sweet wind buffed powder. Unfortunately, two of our good friends, Kip Garre and Allison Kreutzen passed away while skiing on Split Mountain on the same day. More on this later...