Sunday, June 12, 2011

Backcountry Ski Tours - Spring 2011

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Tells Peak – May 7, 2011

Finally spring, the kind of spring we dream of – harvesting Sierra Nevada spring corn! Saturday was a glorious backcountry ski tour, a 12 mile circle, up one side and down the other.

Lake Tahoe and Mount Rose off in the distance.

The Lady folds her climbing skins on the summit. Only downside to this day was the howling wind. Ascending the summit ridge required concentration and care  as we did not want to be blown off down the east face.

Here’s where we’re headed.

Heading down into the big northeast bowl. She was off, but it is always fun to follow the Lady.

Our turns mark our line of descent from the top. It was fun to lay in some figure eights.

Our descent dropped us down through wonderful terrain.

Finally we were down far enough to get some shelter from the wind. One of the best things about spring skiing is relaxing in the sun and having lunch on a lake shore.

Spring time and earning our turns!

Ralston Peak – May 21, 2011

Rapture Saturday and spring time so we figured we better get as close to heaven as possible. No spring corn snow though as it had snowed a couple of feet early in the week.

It was a cool day with the wind – not too bad – and threat of some afternoon showers. The Lady knows how to pick a snack break spot with a view.

View from the summit with Lake Tahoe and Fallen Leaf Lake.

We watched to see if this unattended dog was going to get a once in a lifetime valuable lesson on corniced ridges.

Signs of recent avalanches down the northeast face.

It was a rapturous day and to shamelessly borrow from Mark Twain, we were breathing the same air the angels breathe.

You got to love spring time!

Mount Tallac – June 11, 2011

Spring is officially done. Saturday was the last ski trip. A friend, we’ll call him Mr. Randonee (we travel on light tele gear), suggested climbing and skiing Mount Tallac on the west shore of Lake Tahoe. We were game, we should end the season with some adventure. This trip was typical for spring ascents. First you do battle with manzanita and brush to access the higher snowfields.

Finally we can climb with the skis on

Hitting a view point on the ridge we ascended, we got a view of the day’s prize.

One thing about east facing slopes around here, they are steep. The ridge soon steepened to the point it was too much to climb with skis and skins. The skis went on the packs and this became a pleasant mountaineering exercise with climbing and kicking steps to the ridge crest.

The crest along the west side of Tahoe is a spectacular place. It was time to drop the packs and enjoy the rewards for our efforts thus far. That is a prescribed burn over on the Nevada side.

The north bowl of Tallac and our route up was just to the south

Taking a look down our route up.

And a look north along the crest

Back on skis, the Lady and Mr. Randonee took off for the summit so I could get some photos.

The views into Desolation Wilderness showed that it will be a while before the high country opens up for the summer

Soon they were nearing the summit

And the Lady took her place on the top

You can imagine what the views are like. Stateline and the casino area

And boats coming and going out of Emerald Bay

And then it was time to do the turns we had earned. Mr. Randonee leads the Lady down from the summit

After coming off the top, celebrations were in order

We still had a couple of thousand feet of ski descent below us and the Lady said this was just the right way to start her summer break from school. We lived to tell about it with big smiles after the thigh burning turns and the march through the manzanita down into the timber and finally to the vehicle near Tahoe’s shore.

We’re ready for summer.

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