Saturday, June 11, 2011
dynosaur, MapleLeafGillies, UCL & Brandon
MapleLeafGillies, UCL & Brandon (as noted)
May in the Sierra is my favorite month. Typically, the days are long, the snow is consolidated and predictable corn, the weather is stable and the mountain passes are open making for easier trips to the Eastern Sierra. After such a big snow year this winter, we continued to get “plagued” by additional late season snow and low-pressure windows. It didn’t feel right to complain about snow and low pressure, but frankly, I was internally grumbling most of May. With work obligations and the like, I found myself trying to squeeze in weekend trips that would get shut down by weather.
Fortunately, Enginerd and I were able to pull off a quick stealth mission into the Evolution Range in between weather cycles in early May. Unfortunately, that was the only skiing I did the entire month.
After that, I would read reports of 100 mph winds on the High Sierra, mountain passes being shut down due to new snow or rock fall, and the like. Honestly, I was just ready to move on to climbing season and packed the ski stuff up.
All week I was debating with Brandon whether to just go climbing on Saturday or give Sonora Pass a chance. The weather looked hit or miss with the potential for clouds and no re-freeze the night before. With the ski stuff packed, it was a hard decision at the time to pull it out. Fortunately, we made the right call.
The snow up at Sonora Pass is mind-boggling for June – even though I realize how big of a snow year it was – I still just get overwhelmed pulling up to the parking area to views like this (Note: this was at the end of the day when the weather was clearly great). Photo: Brandon
Reverse back nine hours or so. Waking up in Hotel Subaru, it had definitely re-froze the night before so we were pumped about that. However, assembling at the trailhead, the winds were kicking and the skies were greybird as far as you could ski. Assuming/hoping/wishing it would later burn off, we headed up towards the Pacific Crest Trail to head back towards Leavitt Peak.
Travel was fast due to the hard snow and upon reaching No Name Peak, we just sat and chilled. It was super early and there were not really signs of the clouds breaking up. Photo: Brandon
After a little bit, the sun did start to poke out, but really only in easterly aspects. We decided to go exploring a bit and forego the typical route up to Leavitt. Heading back, the snow was hard enough that just walking was quicker. Photo: UCL
We decided to boot up a short couloir and head back towards some zones to the east of Leavitt. We figured it would be a good way to kill some time until the snow softened. UCL checking out a possible couloir to boot, with Leavitt off in the distance. Photo: MapleLeafGillies
Nice couloir (although would be a short ski) with easy snow to kick steps in. UCL and dynosaur up top with Brandon following below. Photo: MapleLeafGillies
I actually had a lot of fun just skiing around in some zones I have only ever seen from the top of Leavitt, but never headed back to. Low angled stuff, but nevertheless, just skinning around and checking things out was fun. The snow was not really showing any signs of warming that point, so really just ski touring at its finest. Photos: UCL
UCL, pumped on the possibilities for this “side trip”. Photo: MapleLeafGillies
Brandon heading down over the next pass to an area we would lap a number of times. Photo: MapleLeafGillies
The sun was finally starting to break through, but still mitigated by some thin clouds. Pure east aspects were starting to soften, but we knew we had some time for the couloirs on Leavitt and the ski out. So we lapped this fun little area a number of times as the snow continued to get better and better.
Brandon laying it out. Photo: UCL
Ah, there is the stuff I am looking for. UCL finally enjoying the soft stuff. Photos: Brandon
The coverage in the High Sierra is still kicking strong! Photos: UCL
After a number of laps, we finally decided to head back to Leavitt from the SE. Brandon working up. Photo: UCL
dynosaur on the final push to the summit. Photo: UCL
We really didn’t have any agenda and were open to any of the couloirs or the bowl – pretty much whatever looked good. We watched one person drop the right fork of the Y couloir – it looked good. Well timed and just softening. Photo: Brandon
There is a nice sneak entrance on the skiers left entrance that is usually corniced up entirely across (well, at least it was the past couple of years earlier in the season). Photo: MapleLeafGillies
MapleLeafGillies dropping in an enjoying a great descent over to the hub. Photos: UCL
Brandon airing in the entrance and following suit. Photo: UCL
Brandon with some good turns on the way down. Photos: MapleLeafGillies & UCL, respectively
Fortunately, it was not really warm, because not sure I would want to ski that line below the cornices this late in the season if it was getting hot! Photo: MapleLeafGillies
dynosaur heading down the skier’s left flank of the Y couloir. Photos: MapleLeafGillies, UCL, MapleLeafGillies, respectively
After finishing shooting from above, I decided to go over and head down the right entrance given that the left entrance was now all tracked out ;) When I go out to dinner, if anyone orders the same thing as I was intending, I always find myself switching up my order… I guess I just like variety. Heading down, with my entrance up to the right of the picture through the rocks. Photo: MapleLeafGillies
The snow was nice and fast, as long as you avoided some (easily avoidable) slide debris. Photo: MapleLeafGillies
June 11, 2011 – Gotta be in my top-five June 11ths! Photos: Brandon
Yeah, yeah, get out of the backseat – I know :(
MapleLeafGillies heading down the lower couloir. Photo: Brandon
Brandon heading down (for some reason, all my pics were unintentionally B&W, but I liked how this turned out). Photo: UCL
A color perspective – Y is crazy filled in this year. Photo: MapleLeafGillies
The ski to the car lower in the drainage was, honestly, the best I have ever hit it. Usually it is super warm down there and sticky, but given how late it took to warm up, we just fell backwards into great corn all the way down. Everyone was smiling ear to ear. Photo: MapleLeafGillies
Ran a car shuttle back to the pass for cold beers, shorts/t-shirts and this CRAZY rainbow that was just so cool. Photo: MapleLeafGillies
Looking up from the car shuttle up the drainage, way up there to Leavitt Peak. Great, great day. Photo: Brandon
Don’t think I am going to re-pack the ski stuff just yet. Shasta is definitely in the works now that I re-light the fire. Climbing can wait a bit.