Lots of pics here, but it was a long day. About 12 hours solo to do this tour and about 20 miles total. I wanted to ski a particular cirque right above Parker Pass, and check out the trio Parker, Koip, and Kuna. I parked at the Tioga Pass Yosemite Gate Closure and left the car with gear to stay overnight. I wasn't sure how long it would take or what I'd find to ski. So this is a tour behind Mt. Dana and Gibbs, and along the Kuna Crest.
This kind of shows where I went. It was a great tour. Only If I knew I was going to come out to the car in the same day, I would have skied over the northeast side of Mammoth Peak to leave. I skied the South side back to my second intended campsite. I moved my camp twice, and in the end, realized I could make it out by dark.
But first....Tioga Pass conditions. This is Ellery Bowl. Nice and smooth with snow to the road.
Dana Peak looked pretty good too. Although you can't do the Dana Plateau car shuttles anymore, the upper Alpine zone is reported to be fantastic right now. Get in your car!
Sneaking around the backside of Mt. Dana was a bit rolly and melted out on any micro slope with west exposure. There was more snow in the flats, which seems counter intuitive. Plus you have to cross a sizable creek before you join the meadow and summer trail leading to Parker Pass. With more snow, you could cheat and hug the same elevation on skins. With lower snow like now, it would have been better to descend a few hundred feet to the main drainage in-between Dana and Mammoth Peak and start south up the valley.
By this point it had been maybe 2 hours and I hadn't even started up the Kuna Crest Valley. I was staring at Mammoth Peak thinking at least I could climb that and make it a worthy day. This peak is just over 12,000', so only 2500' from the road or so...but further out there for sure. And no tracks anywhere to be seen.
Fast forward to a shot about 6pm, after I skied the south side of Mammoth Peak (on the right). The peak on the left is basically the northern end of the Kuna Crest, with an impressive cirque. Some couloirs might go through from near the summit earlier in the year on this one.
Here's where I finally broke out the trees and felt re-juvinated to head out to Parker Pass. I went to the high point on the left, which is the south end of the Kuna Crest. There is a really cool curved and hidden, east facing ski tucked into it.
I left my bag and stove here near Parker Pass and went up, thinking I'd stay the night and do Koip, Kuna, or Parker the next day. They are all stacked on top of each other.
My known goal from the start was to ski from the high point on the right, and come out on the left down low.
Here's a shot looking up this east facing cirque from Parker Pass, showing about 2/3 of the descent.
View looking northeast back at Tioga Pass Road and Mt. Dana
As it turned out, Kuna, Koip, and Parker were a bit burned out on the north sides. And they would have required skinning a long way back to Parker Pass. My original thought is true actually, that skiing these peaks is best done from Parker Lake earlier in the winter, or in an overnight tour from Tioga Pass to Gem and June Lake (in a big winter).
I started at the gate closure on 120
Looking down my little curved canyon ski descent. It was probably 1800'.
So now I thought I'd pick up my overnight gear and head straight for the south facing terrain on the peaks past this little lake, on the way back to the car.
Here's a look back at the hidden east facing ski I did, from the high point on the right down to the low point at left.
Haven't spent one night on snow this season. At least I broke out the stove. My watch broke, so I guessed it to be maybe 2pm. I headed up to Mammoth Peak, spying enough low angle terrain to avoid wet slide danger.
Skinning up Mammoth Peak on the right kicked my ass. This was pretty far away.
Mt. Lyell 13,114' is the highest peak behind me, left of my head.
Looking northwest from the summit of Mammoth Peak
Looking east, with Mt. Dana on the left and Mt. Lewis way over on the right
Looking southwest at some big terrain and deep snow. On the right of this pic you can make out Cathedral Peak and Matthes Crest. Buried in snow on their east sides.
Looking south from Mammoth Peak. Here you can see how these couloirs might go through with a deeper snowpack. This is that cool northern peaklet of the Kuna Crest.
Looking southeast at where I'd been
I waited a bit on the top for the snow to refreeze enough to ski a little steeper terrain. It's hard to tell how soft the snow is with fat skis, I kept checking it with my poles.
Some skate skiers went out to Parker Pass recently. I stuck to the buried summer trail more on the way out, and veered off hard right when I crossed the creek coming off Dana's backside.
Not super easy to cross, had to look around
At this point I was really hoping I'd make it for fish tacos at mobil. I didn't need skins coming out, but tele helps. I walked the road about a mile or two rather than going uphill through Dana Meadows.
Don't smell me here
A very welcome sight