A light snow covered most of the hills and much of the desert floor around us. The White Mountains reflected clear in the waters of Mono Lake. It took us most of a day to drive down to here from the bay area, but in a setting as serene as the High Sierra in winter, who would rush?
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.