Sunday, May 5, 2013

Dana Couloir

Elery Bowl
I Headed out to the Tioga Pass this weekend to try and hit a cool line on one of the many options in the area.  The road recently opened as far as the Yosemite gates.  The pass is known for some extremo chutes and extremo skiers in the spring.  I was excited to do some recon for future trips.
Taking a break with object in sight

I skinned up Glacier Canyon.  Multiple Transitions from skinning to booting up scree fields made the approach seem longer than it should have been.  Still, it was beautiful.  And the weather was still nice at this point.

Solstice Couloir with numerous tracks

The solstice couloir looked exciting, with numerous tracks still visible.  Apparently this line softens up much faster than the Dana couloir.

Cool glaciation ice visible
The weather began to deteriorate as I climbed.  The snow was firm and showed no signs of softening up.  Seeing as the couloir had sat in the shade most of the day and now it was cloudy, the option of a ski descent didn't seem realistic.  Kicking steps was hard in the firm snow.  I eventually transitioned to a more ice climbing style technique, keeping one foot flat against the snow.

Skiers carefully timidly decending the icy couloir
Two skiers descended as I was close to topping out.  They seemed slightly intimidated by the steepness and conditions, as they should have been.  Nothing had softened up, weather had rolled in, and it's steep!

Lyell and other big boys
The wind and freezing pellets relented as I headed for the summit.  I switched to skinning, as the snow was still soft and wet.  The summit views were great, as would be expected for a peak this high in such a beautiful area.

Mono Lake
It's a great preview of areas I'll hopefully be climbing and hiking this year.  Lyell and the high country to the South.  Tuolumne and the Cathedral range to the West.  Saddlebag lake and the Conness area to the North.

Cathedral range
In the end, I was left with a mediocre ski down the NW ridge.  Dropping into a couloir didn't strike me as a good idea at this point.

A great day out.  Well, not the greatest ski descent, but great training for future trips with better snow.