Monday, January 30, 2012

'Early' Season

The E. Sierra finally got enough snow to ride the backcountry.  Better late than never, but all the sunny, warm weather has been enough to make one depressed.  Well, not really, but still...

Two big storms made it actually feel like winter and created a decent base, although the conditions are definitely still early season, despite the fact that it's pushing Feb.

Mystery trees by Obsidian Dome.

Blue Crag on Mammoth Crest.  The snow up high was wind-hammered and a little scary.

TJ Bowl on Mammoth Crest.  The snow over here wasn't wind-affected and was really fun.  Some really nice protected chutes down lower.

Great to get out!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Uber-Blahg Mega-Update

Here's some rapid-fire spray about a bunch of fun days in the backcountry that I managed to actually document with photographic evidence.  OK, ready?  Here goes.

McGhee Mountain in Feb.  Good powder with some wind-affect.  A mountain that is 100% all-fun-happy-good time.

Table Mountain in Feb.  A couple of steep chutes on the east face.  There was no new snow but it was really windy preceding an incoming storm, creating sensitive windslabs that wanted to go (and they did).

Mt. Tallac in March.  I was proud of myself for getting an early start (8 am) but laughed when I got to the base of the main bowl and watched the Cross Couloir and some of the front chutes getting plundered.  The main shot down the gut didn't have any tracks in it by the time I got to the summit, so I had an awesome run down that.  A cool mountain that reminds me of Mt. Snoqualmie.

Teenage girl myspace self-shot.  One of my gloves blew away as I was taking this picture; karmic retribution for my vanity.

Red Mountain main gut in April.  I like this hill.  I guess I'm partial to avy paths for some reason.  I got a later start than I wanted (it had snowed a bunch 2 days before, so I wanted to beat the warm-up) and pushed harder than I normally do out of fear.  The last couple of hundred feet gets pretty steep and I tried to avoid the main start zone as much as I could.  For some reason I inexplicably started to freak out.  After I calmed down a bit I realized that there was the overwhelming smell of freshly snapped timber hanging in the air.  I think this triggered a weird physiological and primal response (DANGER!).  This run is actually pretty mellow once off the tippy-top and it turned out to be incredibly fun powder riding.

A whole lotta terrain to chose from.

Cool carnage.  I wanted to ride Kid Mountain but it was cold and bulletproof, so I just killed time taking photos and waiting to see if the sun would do anything (it didn't) to soften things up.

In the event of large, destructive avalanches do not hide in a dumpster...

...or up a tree.

Looks like a pretty fun ski hill.

Baldwin Cirque in May.  A spectacular zone further up-canyon past the popular Esha Peak.  If you can't appreciate the aesthetics of a place like this, you should quit skiing and stick to climbing or road biking or whatever.

We hiked the trail and then booted up the first steep hill where we came across some bears -- a mother and two cubs.  I always enjoy seeing bears in the snow.

It was sunny and warm, and like clockwork, things started to wake up and get active.  We bailed on the main chute, regrouped, and then went up another that seemed a little more protected and safe.  It was actually a really sick chute.  Steep, narrow, and beautiful with giant walls and a huge bulging buttress on the left.  We topped out and Ben said something about wanting to ride the backside, to which I replied something to the effect of "We just climbed this rad chute, I want to ride it."  And so we did.

It rode "technical," or in other words, it was pretty difficult!  Lots of roller balls were sent down, but they didn't get huge.  Towards the bottom, I traversed out into the center of the chute and realized that the new snow that was there when we hiked up was all gone.  Hmmm...


Watching them watching us


Large chunk of rock


Probably should have gotten up earlier

Ski cut and tracks lower down

With a tiny bit of ducking and yanking we were able to ride all the way down to the summer trail

Good day!

Mount Warren NE Face in May.  Wow, what a fun day tour.  An awesome steep face right off of the summit and miles of canyon cruising down to the sage.  

(Chris D. took these first 2 pictures.)




 Well done

East Peak of Dana Plateau in May.  We actually had to hike on dirt and bushwack a bit to get to this one, but it was easy and well worth it.  This was one of those days that I didn't take any pictures but regretted it afterwards since it was pretty darned epic spring riding on a big line.  Not 4-star corn on the steeps, but rippable, and the lower angle stuff on the aprons was A+ and prime.  

Chris D. took some nice pictures, so these are all his.

"This is hard.  Slow down."

 Chris and Adam rode the N. facing center chute.  Ben and I rode one that was more E. facing off to the left, around the corner and out of frame.


Hiking out after running out of snow.  We were able to find some patches to follow down towards the base of V Bowl.  Thoughts of riding some more entered our minds, but it was shallow and rotten.

Mount Johnson in June.  This peak is on the cover of a guidebook, so it has an unconscious gravitational pull.  It's also steep, so it also has a gravitational pull that is due to, well, gravity.  Best not to fall when making turns down this thing!  

We had to hike the drained South Lake (work was taking place on the dam) in a muddy clay, which was certainly a first.  Once on snow and heading uphill we cruised into the main bowl, where I had to convince the others to head left, since I was the only one who looked at a map and was probably the only one that really wanted to ride this line.  We continued for a while, and then stopped in some rocks to try and increase our motivation.  It was cold and cloudy, not the tee shirt and sunburn weather that is more typical of June, so complaints about the conditions were voiced.

We hung out for a bit, and then continued to the head of the cirque around the backside of Mt. Johnson, where some pretty cool little lines resided.  

The dog and I rode a a nice run from a sweet, narrow col.

The others (Ben, Chris, and Mike) skied a face to the left.

The snow was fun and wintry, so after riding down to a small lake, we decided to go "just a bit" higher to get more vert in.  Well, I bee lined it straight to the base of the right couloir hoping that the others would be into it, and of course they were.

Steeper and longer than I expected, we were stoked on the line and the great snow.  We then party-blasted out to the lake high on mountain life.