Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Josh, Zeb, Crystal and I had a really fun day cragging at River Rock. Check out this super cool video edit that Josh made.

Mountain pirates sail from Pine Creek to Rock Creek

Just a few days ago, a small band of mountain pirates sailed the treacherous passage from Pine Creek to Rock Creek, plundering booty along the way.  Yarrrr!

Just like regular people, pirates need food and grog!  For mountain pirates, that means Bim Jeam and Pineapple GU.

Down the hatch ...

... and we're ready for some swashbuckling!

Navigating by the sparkling peaks around us, we followed a mining road into the mountains.

After some difficulty reading the treasure map, we were marooned in the wrong drainage.  Always resourceful, we battened down the hatches in a giant pit in the snow to wait for morning.

Photo: Matt McDonald
One might not always think of pirates as expert diggers, but these are MOUNTAIN pirates.

Wrong drainage or not, we sought out booty to be plundered!

Bootpacking is the bread and butter of good pirating.

The birthday boy drops in first, and discovers a treasure trove of powder.  Happy 28 Harold!

Pillaging can be exhausting business, but we made to the top of the pass and were back on course to Rock Creek.

We tried to pose for a picture to send to our mums, but tipped over like a bunch of silly landlubbers.

Yarrr, much better!  (yes mum, there is a "serious" one too)

Harold's sleeping mat was damaged in battle, the obvious solution was to set it on fire!

Three scurvy dogs break camp for the last time!  Today we sail for the mainland!

But first, our treasure map showed a big fat X next to the Bear Creek Spire.

Photo: Matt McDonald

On top at last, it's all dowhill from here me hearties!

Ahoy, Jeremy has spotted some booty!

Prepare to be boarded!

Shiver me timbers, those are two good looking pirates.

Simul-skiing strikes fear in the hearts of landlubbers.  Yo ho! 

Somehow we forgot to take pictures during the long slog out through Little Lakes Basin or the long walk in ski boots down the newly-plowed Rock Creek Road.  But eventually these 3 salty dogs reached their car and buried-in-the-snow treasure.  Weigh anchor, we sail for Nicely's Diner and its bounty of giant milkshakes!

Extra pictures here and here.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Eastern Sierra springtime is here! Mt. Morrison climb and ski descent

After several weeks of nearly continuous snow, spring had finally arrived!  Jeb and I had been flipping through guidebooks looking for something that would be fun and in good condition with the new snow. Mt. Morrison looked good to both of us, so we planned a quick 1-day outing to give it a go!

5:00 pm - Squaw Valley USA  We clicked out of our skis at the end of a day of work.

7:30pm - East Shore Lake Tahoe After a quick dinner and packing, we were treated to a beautiful sunset over the lake on our way out of town.  The familiar peaks of Squaw silhouetted agains the sunset waved goodbye and good luck.

11:00pm - Convict Lake We were asleep in the bed of Jeb's truck, hydrated, fed and excited for the morning.

5:00am - Convict Lake After crushing a quick breakfast and chugging water to pre-hydrate, we clicked into our skis and started climbing, 12 hours since leaving work.

6:30am - Below the North face of Mt. Morrison S The sun broke over the horizon just as we rounded the ridge of Mini Morrison and got our first look at our planned climbing and skiing line.  Beautiful!

Approaching the base of the climb, we could see that the snow didn't quite connect and we would need to cross some rocks to reach the top.

8:45am - Rocky traverse After taking the wrong line through the rock band, it took nearly an hour to negotiate.  We had hoped to be nearing the top at this point, and the morning sun was starting to melt the snow.

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Photo: Jeb Mirczak
As we moved higher, the aspect of the face turned more northerly, away from the sun.  The snow was cold and powdery, but every step we sunk almost to our knees.  This made for sloooow bootpacking.

Jeb, with a look that shows his excitement for deep snow bootpacking, as we neared the summit.  He was feeling strong and led the way up the final steep chute to the ridge.

11:00am - Top of the ridge An hour later than we had hoped to be there, we made it to the top.  You can see the trench we dug thrashing our way up the final 10 feet of climbing.

Jeb making the first turn at the top of the chute.

I think we were both feeling a bit intimidated by the exposure below us, and we made conservative turns down the chute until it widened into the upper snowfield.

We found nice wintery snow for the upper half of the ski, which Jeb enjoyed as he cruised into the lower choke section.

Photo: Jeb Mirzak
Nice windblown pow!

11:45am - Rocky traverse This time, we found the correct tongue of snow that almost connected across the rock band for our descent.  As we prepared to cross, the lost time from routefinding and postholing began to show its teeth.  The eastern facing slopes above had been absorbing solar heat since sunrise, and we watched as a natural wet avalanche poured down the slope we needed to descend.  It was time to get off the mountain!

Happily back down to the lower angled terrain on the valley floor, we milked corn turns back towards our car.  Jeb showed off his ski-school perfect style.  Gosh that guy looks good.

1:00pm - Convict Lake Cold beer on the tailgate of Jeb's truck, our feet were happy to be out of ski boots as we gazed up at the Mendenhall couloir on Laurel Mountain, just across the lake.  Happy to be done with one mission, and already thinking of the next!

7:00pm - Tahoe City A quick soak in a natural hotspring in the valley below the mountains and a few hours in the car brought us back home, 26 hours on the road and an awesome goal achieved!

More photos at http://www.tuckercunningham.com/Skiing/Backcountry/winter-wandering-2011/15580855_BJkq6

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Rockies Road Trippin

Erica and I spend 9 days on the road in early March chasing snow and visiting friends in the Rocky mountains.  Good meals were eaten, good company shared, deep snow skied and many hot springs were soaked in.  Here's a quick sampling of ski pics.

The itinerary!  Tahoe City, Bozeman, Big Sky, Jackson, Alta and back home.

The light snow that the interior mountains are known for was found in spades!  Erica making turns in the  Bridgers.

Erica's good buddies Caroline and Jasper were great hosts in Bozeman, and took us snowmobiling in the Bridgers.  Caroline almost disappeared in the white room!

Inbounds at Big Sky, we found a run named Fatty's, a silly nickname for my good friend Pat.  We skied this one for him!

On Taylor Peak in the Tetons, Erica got some snow on her.

My friend JB took us for a really cool tour in the Wasatch range, skiing the Hallway couloir on the way to traverse from Little to Big Cottonwood canyon.  Here he's making the entrance to the couloir look easy with the Wasatch in the background.

Thanks Caroline, Jasper, Crystal, Peter, Al, Lisa, JB, Sloan, Bill, Feren and everyone else for a great time, we'll be back!