Today was my last day of skiing for the week, and it would be a big one. I scouted out the Round Valley area conditions two days prior, and I wanted to link up the summits of Castle Peak and Basin before I left. I left the Boreal Ski Resort lot at 8:30, my feet a little more sore and blistered than the last time. The trail was well cut, now, and so I cruised up way faster than the last time. It took me a tad over an hour to get to Castle Pass, and from there I proceeded straight up Castle Peak.
Donner Peak was today’s goal, and Mount Judah would be a bonus. Most of the route being directly adjacent to Sugar Bowl, it wasn’t exactly wilderness, and I probably shouldn’t have expected any sort of alone time. I got to the Donner Ski Ranch parking lot around 8:30, crossed the Donner Pass Road, then hopped onto the snow so as to avoid the walk up the road to the Sugar Bowl Academy.
My skis had seen snow, but this was their first day out in the backcountry. It had snowed the day before, so I figured I’d take it easy. I’d originally planned to summit Castle Peak, but I decided to stay under treeline just to play it safe. It turned out to be an adventure anyway, and I definitely tracked some great powder.
Solitude in the snow is not hard to find, but you do need good gear. At the minimum, a pair of snowshoes and waterproof boots will get you there, but if you’re looking for more of a thrill, backcountry skis and climbing skins are the way to go. My new skins came in the other day, and they required a bit of work before they were ready for the snow.
Snowshoeing is easy to learn, and it opens the winter wilderness to hikers willing to do a little extra work. I thought it would be a great way for Jinelle and me to spend a day in the snow. We drove into the Boreal Ridge parking lot around nine-thirty, and it was freezing cold. The goal for the day was to hike along the Castle Pass trail and see what sort of views we could find. Jinelle had never been beyond the ski resort boundaries in the winter, and snowshoeing seemed like the best way to experience that. I figured today wouldn’t involve anything too strenuous, but I knew she’d have a good time. Continue reading
An alpine start the next day was not. We woke up to the chilly sunshine of nine on a September morning. We ate breakfast and left camp. Our goal for the day was to climb Mount Hoffmann. Most peak baggers climb the use trail up the Eastern slope of the peak, but we planned to climb around the west side, a route none of us knew would work. We had no reason to take this route other than the fact that we could. You see, once you’ve gone off trail, you get the idea that any terrain before you is traversable, and it’s true. Continue reading
September 2012 –
Nick, Tyler, and I (also Tyler) were headed out of the May Lake trailhead, one of the busier trailheads in the Yosemite high country. The lake itself rests a mile-and-a-half into the Yosemite wilderness under the slopes of Mount Hoffmann and is home to the May Lake High Sierra Camp, a bastion of civilization, chef-prepared meals, and flush toilets in an otherwise unkempt area. Because the camp is such a civilized place so close to the trailhead, it’s usually pretty crowded, and I thought we’d be lucky to snag an overnight permit. Continue reading