Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tahoe West Shore Traverse

Oh man, this mission had been on the tick list for a long time and it was fun to finally get it done!  The idea: ski the longest roadless stretch in the Tahoe area, from Echo pass to Donner pass along the crest of the Sierra.  Ski conditions were variable after a long dry spell, but coverage was good and with a forecast for sun the time was ripe!

Jeb was kind enough to wake up while it was still dark outside to drive me down to South Lake.  Thanks, amigo!

It's always good to start a long walk with high fructose corn syrup and saturated fat!  Sadly, Hostess fruit pies have gone the way of the dodo and the generic brand ones get the job done, but they're not quite the same.

Goal for the weekend: keep putting one foot in front of the other . . .

Day one was glorious, the sun was out and Desolation had on its winter coat.  Lake Aloha has always been one of my favorite spots, such a strange barren feel with Pyramid and friends rising up behind it.  The Crystal range was a travel companion for the day, always there on the left, stretching unbroken all the way from Pyramid to Loon Lake.

On the shoulder of Dick's peak, I could see one of the longest glides of the trip.  Long, contouring traverses were the name of the game, trading vert for progress north.  Red X down at Middle Velma Lake is the goal.

BAM, almost 3 miles in 15 minutes!  Back to walking, up and over Phipps peak into the northern reaches of Desolation Wilderness.  

If anyone has ever wondered where helium balloons go to die, I think I might have figured it out.  This is the second one that I've found out in the Velma lakes area.

After a nice dinner of salami and cheese on the top of Lost Corner Mountain, I used the last light of the day to cruise down into the Miller lakes and find a campsite.

Day two dawned windy, not quite the glorious spring weather of the day before but it provided good motivation to keep moving and made it easier to keep cool.

Cresting the first ridge into Blackwood canyon, the order of the day was laid out.  First Twin Peaks, then Granite Chief, and then on out to Donner pass!

Cool rock formations on the way to Tinker's Knob.  At this point, my head was down and I was grinding so I didn't stop for too many pictures, but the Sierra never stopped showing off.

Totally spent on the last high point of the journey, Mt. Lincoln.  
Final stats for two days of adventure were 21 hours on the move, 44 miles and 12,000ft of human-powered skiing.

Recharging the batteries at Burger Me in Truckee.  The milkshake/beer double fist is the newest thing in recovery technology.  Headed to Chamonix in two weeks, gotta keep the legs strong!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Adventure skiing with Harold

   Great skiing today in Desolation Wilderness!  After a crazy couple of weeks at the resort, it feels like winter finally started this week.  The crowds have dissipated a bit, the snowpack is relatively stable and the temps are nice and cold.

   Our plan was to climb Maggies, descend north-facing trees and then drop into the Cascade Creek drainage and have a look at the North face/ridge trees of Tallac (anybody have a good name for this area?  I haven't heard of a ton of traffic back there, but we saw tracks from several other parties).  Other than descending south-facing terrain from Granite Lake down into Cascade Creek, we found 6-8" of blower cold hero snow on top of a soft, edgeable base.

   Both McD and I were on new, lightweight setups and this tour was a great test!  My Dynafit TLT5/La Sportiva GT combo handled these conditions pretty well and I felt like I was in nordic gear during the climbs, it was awesome!  

   Two big dorks, excited to be on a peak in the Sierra with no wind!

   The snow was great for uphill travel, but the North Trees area of Tallac was a bit steep for skinning the whole way and we ended up having to bootpack part of the climb.  It would probably be more efficient to climb the conventional way towards the North Bowl and then traverse out to this area. 

 It was a great pitch for skiing and protected from sun and wind, leaving great snow conditions!  Thanks for the work behind the camera Matt, always fun to have great pictures to remember a day like this!