Author Archives: powdork
sunday night i got a message asking if i’d like to hit moon couloir the next day. the only tracks that should be there would be another couple of friends known for getting after things early. since i had taken out the pups for the last three days and i had the night off this would be the perfect time to leave them behind and get an un-dog-friendly line. we hit the south carson pass trailhead at 8, and found the cars of the group that would be getting there before us. an hour and a half later we were under round top waiting to see which way the group ahead would go. the two guys we thought we would see had come separate, with one tagging all three couloirs (you can see his bootpacks), and the other leading up this group of four. they went up the main crescent so we opted for the center couloir.
jeffjay heading up the gut of the central couloir. just after this shot the skier started descending the main couloir and he set off a pretty big pocket. greg and i were still close to the intersection as it roared below us sounding like a freight train. we all brought crampons and ice axes, but only used the axes.
waiting for our turn
at this point it’s no secret tahoe had a great january. im fact, in terms many locations saw record january snowfall, while many others saw record precipitation amounts. we saw incredible avalanches and started some scary ones too. there were five days rated high on the avalanche scale and for the first time ever sierra avalanche center offerred up a completely black danger rose. We had some great days, but we also had quite a few down days. i think most would agree that the resorts were closed for weather more than any month in the past and i know the kids had more snow days than any month i’ve been here. enough of all that though let’s get to some pictures.
1/3 – waterhouse – last day skiing with ashley before her big trip. this was the beginning of the condition known as #januburied.
we spent a lot of time here and at powderhouse during the month since it’s always got a pullout plowed and it’s the ‘safe’ alternative on high avy danger days. more on that later.
last summer when i bought my mountain collective pass it was with the idea of traveling around the west in the lavish comfort of the bumble beast, a spacious sprinter van with my partner in crime, hutchski. those plans fell apart but i wasn’t about to let the pass go to waste. so i told my boss i needed three weeks off in late march and prepped my jeep (coco) for the trip. by ‘prepped’, i mean got a roof rack and new tires. there were numerous things wrong with coco but there was no way i could afford to fix them all so i would just have drive off and hope for the best, armed with a set of tools and a few hundred extra dollars. the basic plan was to hit all the resorts from taos to banff and then come down from whistler through the cascades. there was no place i had to be at any given time so the plan was subject to change based on snow conditions. then my father’s failing health necessitated a trip to florida in the middle of the tour so i booked a round trip flight from denver. this cut out taos and banff (taos was having a sub-par year anyway).
my new plan had me heading straight up to whistler with some undetermined stops on the way. before leaving i got in touch with lindsey in bend and asked what she was up to. as luck would have it she was planning a trip to mount hood just as i was passing through. i’d never been so this was perfect. we had planned an early start but a partner coming from portland called to say he was running behind. and then again, and again.
mt hood in the not so early morning light
tahoe has been stuck in a long dry spell for pretty much all of february with the exception of one large event. a week ago hutchski and i headed to the rubies to ski terminal cancer. it was awesome, especially for her since it was her first couloir. another highlight was driving back the next day via highway 50. i had never seen the toiyabes or sand mountain during the day and they both had me excited for a return.
don’t have any decent pictures from then but this was as i was driving away from the toiyabes on tuesday. they look good right?
it’s all an illusion. this is big creek campground, which was an excellent place to sleep. free camping by a creek with excellent bathrooms. what’s not to like? the lack of snow on the lower and west facing slopes that i never saw before. at the second creek crossing there was too much snow on the opposite bank to make it up, and i was still miles from consistent snow. add to that the fact that i left my clothes bag at home which meant no socks and i’d be skiing in jeans, without ibuprofen.
so i decided i would bite the bullet and drive to the opposite side of the range. that would also take me through austin so i could get some supplies. the chevron mart had everything on my list, and i got their one and only pair of socks
pretty much every time you go backcountry skiing here in the sierra you’re treated to great views. often the views are alpine lakes or even tahoe itself. but every now and then, you get to slice through the powder with a lake filling you’re goggles so much it’s hard to concentrate on your line. since most of these zones at least start and stop at lower elevations, it’s been a while since they’ve had the level of attention they’re getting this year. all you need to find these mountains is a map, but a map won’t get you to the top. for that you need a friend or local knowledge. despite overlooking lake tahoe, or fallen leaf lake these peaks are typically not easy to get to. jake’s peak would be the main exception to this rule and as a result, can get crowded. the reward for the extra effort can be awesome though
as you can see the lakeside peaks are clustered together in two main zones. one on the southwest shore and one on the north and east
angora peak – there are three ways to get to the base of the peak, have the gate code or key, snowmobile, just under a mile skin. if you choose the latter chances are someone with access is gonna get there first. the views of fallen leaf lake with tahoe beyond are magnificent
work was over for the summer, the weather was great, and hutchski was heading down towards bishop before taking the bumble beast east for a while. with some free time i decided to head down there too.
i mean, who could resist a crew like this
in a place like this
obviously the pups were happy to see each other
work ended (until december) on the 12th of this month. on the 14th we planned to head south to do some climbing around mammoth (crystal crag) and then maybe something in tuolomne since it had been so warm. then the forecast took a turn for the worse with much rain in the forecast for the duration. a quick change of plans had us heading north for two days of sunny climbing on the redwood coast then some mountain biking in downieville. fate had other plans and we would not climb in the sun, but still had much fun.
wednesday we get our usual late start but no worries. we don’t have too far to go and grizzly dome doesn’t have too much to offer, especially for the dogs who would have to remain in the car. but then we notice that the bumblebeast is all over the road and wicked scary to drive (and passenger). hutchski just put new shoes on the van so we stopped by the placerville les schwab to see what was up. they said the front tires (which were replaced a month before the rear) were over 100psi. problem is she also has a readout from very recent oil change where part of the service is to check tire pressure, and the front tires were both listed at 55psi. the consensus is one of the front tires was not installed properly and was very loose, but they didn’t want to say that, making their company look bad. either way the issue was solved and for free.
we arrived at the dome as the sun was setting and quickly set up our belay. fortunately that was just a matter of backing up the beast to three weenies doing 5.12 (5.7)
the artsy shot from the gopro
living at the base of one of the better mountain biking trail systems in the country definitely has it’s rewards. it doesn’t hurt that the same system connects to the rim trail which provides much more in the way fun in the sun. one day in july i took off from the house to go on a 15 minute ride to get the pups some exercise. i passed the river at powerline trail and decided to head up corral loop to hit the tabletop section. well things were going so well i headed higher to the top of corral. still feeling good i went up oneidas to the top of the armstrong connector. having recently been up to armstrong pass i knew there were two more clean water sources before star lake so what the heck. along the rim trail between armstrong pass and freel pass i came upon this gem, the buddha. it was then i hatched a plan.
over the next several weeks i rode up there several times. once stashing a 60m rope and some nuts, the next time a tent and pad, and once more with some larger cams. hutchski isn’t so much into epics but all that was needed was a little deceit. “it’s gonna be easy” i said, and she fell for it. fast forward to august 19 and we were on our way, leaving #vanlife behind for 35 pound packs.
it’s no secret that tahoe has been hurting for snow this year. as the year started we had promises of storms of the century that yielded nothing more than ‘much needed wind’. our best storms became the inside slider, which in most years simply ushers in colder air. when of these moves west enough to grab a little moisture off the pacific they can bring some decent cold snows, and with little wind. one of these storms came in at the end of february and as the day got closer the forecast got more and more promising. there was a forecast of up to 6-12″ (tiny by normal tahoe standards) with a possibility of twice that wherever the deformation axis set up.
so on friday morning we were a bit disappointed to find that kirkwood had only received around 7″ and apparently the north shore received up to 17″. we skinned up dangberg to get a few quick laps in with the pups while kirkwood’s finest did their patrol work.
febuly 28th. the pups couldn’t care less about no defamation ackses. they just like the snow.
back in 1950 (actually it was early july this year) ashley and i hopped in the bumble beast and headed east, and a bit north as well to city of rocks idaho. this was our first long test of the beast and she performed beautifully. we left after work around midnight and traded shifts driving and sleeping throughout the night. the sun rose as we passed through wells, nevada. there we both grabbed a catnap parked outside mcdonalds while we used their wifi to download a movie. does mickeyd’s wifi make you fat?
sunrise over i-80
we continued on to the city and arrived early in the afternoon in time for another nap. the pups (you remember sir fartsalot and chief poopsinside) were ready for action though.
bumble beast and crew in the upper breadloaves picnic area
we headed around the corner to decadent wall where we could climb and the pups could run
me on twilight (5.6) Continue reading