Monday, May 3, 2010

Sugarbowl to Squaw Ski Tour

As I was reminded again last night, we have once more fallen behind on the blog posts. Perhaps it's because we've been outside a lot since the weather finally got nice. Or maybe I'm just lazy, or distracted. At any rate, I am under house arrest today because Nim threw up this morning, so y'all finally get some more pictures...

Several weeks ago now, we did a one-day backcountry ski tour with Randy and Bruce, a couple of Chad's riding buddies from work. The idea was to start at Sugarbowl, climb up through the ski area to the saddle next to Mt. Lincoln, follow the ridge southeast to Anderson Peak and Tinker Knob, drop down to Mountain Meadow Lake, and then climb and cross one final saddle before dropping into the parking lot at Squaw Valley, where we had a car staged for our return. The whole route involves about 12 miles of skiing and something on the order of 3000 feet of climbing.

Read more about the route details here and here if you're interested.

At the start (note the EARLY morning light)

Traversing across the side of the hill just outside of the Sugarbowl boundary. I think this was the only section of right-leg-high sidehill; much of the rest of the route was left-leg-high sidehill -- like the terrain knew I had a sore left hip going into the trip...

Randy, looking happy shortly before we got to the first downhill. Unfortunately, one of his skis escaped at the top while he was taking skins off at the top. It slid right off the cornice and down into the woods, never to be seen again, despite much effort searching. Poor Randy had to hike back up to the edge of the ski area and persuade the liftie to let him ride down on the chairlift while the rest of us pressed on.

The ridge, with Anderson Peak at the horizon. It felt like we were travelling along the top of the world for most of the day.

The top of the ridge was veritably infested with bear tracks. At one point, we could see that the bear had been through since the skiers the previous afternoon, as its track was on top of a set of ski tracks that clearly hadn't seen warm April mid-day sun.

Benson ski hut, just before we hit Anderson Peak. Some skiers do this route in two days, overnight in the hut, and have time to play on the slope or sleep in; others like us go light and do it in one very long day.

Bootpacking up the slushy slope at the top of Anderson Peak. The picture doesn't do it justice -- this section was STEEP. Too steep and slushy for the skins to provide enough traction, and there weren't any alternative routes that looked any better. I had some serious heebie-jeebies, and had to do my best to ignore my pesky hindbrain complaining.


The view just before we dropped off the final saddle back down to civilization. Because we had started early, there was still afternoon sun on the snow, leaving it slushy, but delightfully predictable to ski on as we wound our way down through the trees and creeks on our way down to the parking lot at the bottom. Total time spent skiing: about 11 hours. I don't know about the others, but am sure that's a record for me!

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