March 31 - April 4, 2019, Cali Sierra Road Trip!

3/31/19
US elsewhere
1790
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Posted by GregLange on 4/14/19 10:43am
Trip Report for TAY…TAY once again proves to be a reliable and responsible community from which to invite tour partners. Having always wanted to ski tour the central Sierras, I chose Spring Break to make my foray. Back in January, I posted a potential trip to the central Cali Sierras. Alex C answered the call about a month later, and our conversations were on. We briefly considered a Vancouver Island trip, but our guidebook, as good of info as it provided, was a bit tough to decipher - lots of local knowledge. (Another day...) Alex is from Portland, and a very easy off I-5 pickup.

On Sunday, 3/31, we started the long slog to our destination, Bridgeport CA. We had planned to ski either Shasta or Lassen, but weather/super deep parking lot snowpack required a different approach. After a night at the Alpine Lodge (A fine dirt-bag hotel in Shasta; another day...), we shoved off crack-o-dawn Monday, April Fools Day. We kept our options open, as Alex pored over the Sierras Tour Bible by Jeremy Benson. We finally agreed that North Jakes Peak, at the south end of Lake Tahoe, was our Monday objective. Arriving just at noon, we proceeded to throw our boards (Alex on a split, me on skis) onto snow directly in front of our car. Up 2400 feet, in nearly slushy snow, we were racing the cloud cover to our descent. Sticky but fun snow greeted us for our descent, and we agreed that Tahoe has TONS of roadside access. A great intro to Sierra skiing. However, the road gate which we were parked next to closed literally as we arrived at our car. Apparently a slide had blocked the road. So, instead of a 25-minute departure to US 395, we spent 1.5 hours going nearly all the way around the lake. Great scenery, and Alex even won $5 in a Cal-Neva slot machine. (I blew $20 in the same timeframe.) On to Bridgeport, and the Bridgeport Inn. Built in 1877, and now a gateway accommodation to Twin lakes, Tioga Pass, Mono Lake and Virginia Lakes, it proved to be an amazing value AND a great place to base ourselves!

Tuesday morning we took a leisurely approach to leaving. Facing a forecast of wind and snow, we drove 15 minutes to Twin Lakes, and headed directly up toward Crater Crest. The snow down low was very temperature-affected, but the predicted wind and snowfall were fairly minimal. As we climbed, the snow got softer and more filled-in, though certainly not pow in it's true sense. After 3+ hours, Alex and I took a snack break. With the false summit in sight, at about 10,300 ft., we decided to wait 10 minutes. Well, the wind and snow arrived right on that cue! So, we descended into some nicely wide and soft snow fields, all the while skirting the trees for visual relief. Reaching the final 500 feet, the snow was SO thick that we did Figure 11's on a 30-degree slope with almost no speed!! Back to shower and check the next day's forecast, we then drove to Bishop. For me, to honor my father's birthplace; for Alex to see a friend from the PCT. The drive south showed us the awe-inspiring, ever-taller Sierra range as we drove south. After dinner with a bunch of horse and ranch folks, it was home to our Inn. Large discussion ensued, as the weather forecast was changed from wind and snowfall to blazing sunshine and north-facing wind loading for Wednesday!

After a good sleep and an earlier departure, we stopped in at the local Forest Service office to ask what THEY would ski. We were directed to the Tioga Pass road (Closed at Mile 3), to look at the "Power Plant Bowl", a nice choice of 2 chutes on the way up toward dana plateau. All morning, as we climbed, there was much discussion of the settling of the snow, and the cracks that progressively got just a little bigger as Alex broke trail. We had originally wanted to go down skiers/boarders-left, but the convex rollover at the crux had me spooked! (Didn't like the potential elasticity of the snow there…). So, we instead went down skiers/boarders-right, a much more straightforward chute. Well, soft enough snow and minimal slough were our rewards! 2000 feet later, we were whooping up a successful 3-day venture as a "first-but-not-last" Sierras adventure! Celebrating with very nice bourbon and Moscow Mules in the very quiet Bridgeport Inn bar (they had just opened 2 days before we arrived…rates early season are a screamin' deal!), we vowed to return.

Thursday morning came way too early. We had a 15+ hour drive home. Alex, fortunately, routed us primarily on the east side of the mountains, so we saw lots of lonely country! Stopped in at the Lava Beds National Monument as a bonus, and went lava tubing for an hour! Finally coming across the Cascades on Highway 58, we drove past lots of wind blowdown on our way to I-5, and the faster traffic pace. Home Sweet Home it was, but with incredible memories of our experiences in a super-accessible ski touring mecca! Can't wait to return…
Nice to read your TR of your recent visit. It brings back memories of skiing Jakes Peak, Crater Crest and Power Plant Bowl back when Jill and I were a bit younger. ;)
2019-04-22 07:05:07
Zap
Sounds really great...thanks for posting...that's big county with lots of choices so I hear..way to tap it!!  Any photos ?

2019-04-22 09:45:07
rlsg
Nice Greg, I'm following your footsteps. It's definitely big line time here now!!!
2019-04-22 11:14:51
snoholic
Yahoo, Snoholic! Go get 'em. Post your follow-up. Love to see wher you've been...

I've got a few pix, but they're apparently too big to be posted. And I'm not tech-savvy enough to compress or whatever I need to.
2019-04-22 14:23:03
GregLange
It's been pretty much the same throughout the Eastern Sierras Bridgeport to Lone pine. STELLER! If I could figure out how to post pictures from my phone I would but it's too much for my little brain to figure out.
2019-04-23 06:29:29
snoholic
author=snoholic link=topic=41821.msg164790#msg164790 date=1555629903]
If I could figure out how to post pictures from my phone I would but it's too much for my little brain to figure out.


The Curse of TAY!
2019-04-23 07:48:29
kamtron
Thanks for report! Best Mountain Weathet Range in the world! Some say.

2019-04-23 08:34:31
avajane
author=snoholic link=topic=41821.msg164790#msg164790 date=1555629903]
It's been pretty much the same throughout the Eastern Sierras Bridgeport to Lone pine. STELLER! If I could figure out how to post pictures from my phone I would but it's too much for my little brain to figure out.


On my phone from the send screen, I slide right all the way to “Copy I Cloud Link”. Wait for that to happen and then paste it into the body of your post. I can't usually get greedy and do very many...
2019-04-23 08:47:04
avajane

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GregLange
2019-04-14 17:43:15