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.
I left the Boreal parking lot around 9:30. I skinned up at the trailhead, but I learned in the process that skinning up at the car is a much neater process. The weather started a tad unsettled, but blue skies took over as I skied along the trail. I stopped a few times to snap pictures and to apply some moleskin. I hadn’t bought my boots with touring in mind, and perhaps they’re a bit narrow in the toes for it.
Around 11 I gained the ridge between Castle Peak and Andesite Ridge. The snow was alternately mush and crust, but to the north of the ridge was pure tree powder. I climbed the ridge for a while, looking for a good drop-in to Round Valley. When I found it, I stopped and ate lunch, then hit it.
Two minutes later I found myself in Round Valley. The snow I skied was light and fluffy, and when I looked back on them, mine were the only tracks in sight. A meadow sits at the base of Round Valley, flanked by the ridge formed by Castle and Basin Peaks. There is a Sierra Club hut here, but it’s a bit difficult to find, and I didn’t bother searching. I threw the skins back on and skinned back up to the ridge toward Andesite Peak.
From the saddle of the ridge I began skinning up toward Andesite. I elected not to go all the way to the summit, but instead turned off back down into Castle Valley. The descent here was much less enjoyable than the one off Castle Peak’s ridge. Near the top, the snow was windswept and icy. The snow midway down was decent, but only lasted for a few seconds. Underneath that the trees became too thick to ski through with any sort of speed.
I made my way back down to the trail which was much more tracked than when I had gone up in the morning. I remembered it being almost a straight downhill shot back to the trailhead, but I found as I skied that it rolled up and down quite a bit. What I thought would be a leisurely cruise back to the start was really slow uphill sections interspersed with quick downhill spurts. I got back to the car around 3:30, just in time to catch the afternoon rush hour out of the Boreal parking lot.