we hatched a plan yesterday, and let it ferment a bit until it ended up being to ‘ski jobs sister and freel peak under the full moon’ in soft serve slush conditions. that’s not what happened. after dealing with all the logistics of leaving one car at high meadows, for the all nighters’ way out, we packed up the truck with the four of us and headed up fs 051 into horsethief canyon. wasn’t too long before we hit snow on the road. deep snow. deep snow that had already refrozen, despite the fact that we were at @8,500′, it was only 11:00, and it was 47 degrees outside. this meant our assault on freel would include an additional 2 miles of walking prior to starting our ascent to what would at best be very marginal conditions. for those not planning on staying all night, brennan and mike (who had to be at work at 7:30 am), it would mean that same walk again switch to get out. we hatched a new plan. ebbetts pass. there we knew we could get right out of the car and determine whether it was worth skiing, or not. when we got ebbetts, everything was frozen there too. but we knew we would have to get a little bit away from the road before we would know for sure.
mckinney reservoir and ebbetts peak under the light of the full moon
after parking at the pass we found nothing but scary firm snow. just before bailing i walked another 10 feet away from the road into some trees, and found good spring snow. we were on like donkey kong! once committed and heading out the pass ridge toward tryon peak, we soon realized that soft snow behind us would be all we see of that for the night
chris and mike hiking up towards the high point on pass ridge
chris, mike, and brennan (and their head lamps) heading down off tryon peak
brennan, chris, and mike stop below and look back. folgers peak in the background
chris rides by into the moonlight
then the clouds rolled in, so we had to go (we were done anyway)
interestingly, the coldest temp we found on our trip was 42 degrees. despite that, the super dense snow pack was also considerably firmer than we would have thought or hoped. there definitely is something to this whole radiational cooling thing. it is great news for those looking to get out during the daylight hours, since the sun cups were not bad at all yet.