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Trans-Sierra Ski Tour

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Trans-Sierra Ski Tour

Postby two2tandem » Tue Jan 19, 2010 4:49 am

I'm in the planning phase for a Trans-Sierra Ski about 6 weeks out and am looking at a route I haven't been able to find much information on. Going West to East I'm hoping to start at Edison Lake (via snowmobile access) and ski the Mono Creek Trail over to Mono Pass. We'll drop down into Rock Creek Canyon from Mono Pass where we'll meet our wives at the Rock Creek Lodge. Hopefully if we are making good time we'll have a day to have some fun skiing up in some of the Mono Recesses. Anyone ever been up in this area during winter? Any thoughts or suggestions from your experience up there?
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Postby mungeclimber » Tue Jan 19, 2010 5:42 am

sounds cool

I'm waiting with Baited breath. I figured all the trans sierras pretty much started on the east and went west.
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Re: Trans-Sierra Ski Tour

Postby Sierra Ledge Rat » Tue Jan 19, 2010 8:59 am

I haven't done the route that your proposed in winter, but I've done it in the spring. I did a winter trans-Sierra ski trip after Christmas many years ago, from Mono Lake to Yosemite Valley via Tuolomne Meadows.

http://www.summitpost.org/trip-report/566522/Winter-Ski-Traverse-of-the-Sierra-Nevada.html

I would search out photos of your planned route and look for tell-tale signs of winter avalanches.

Here's a photo looking down Mono Creek from Mono Pass, look at all of the avalanche chutes over on the left:

Image
http://www.summitpost.org/image/436007/170988/mono-creek-headwaters.html

Another photo showing the many avalanche chutes:

Image
http://www.summitpost.org/image/436010/170988/descending-to-mono-creek.html

The downed trees in the Mono Recesses suggests that there are huge winter avalanches up there. We crossed numerous giant swaths of downed trees in the 2nd Recess:

Image
http://www.summitpost.org/image/436022/170988/avalanche-destruction-in-the-second-recess.html

Here's a photo I took during a winter ski traverse of the Sierra (Mono Lake to Yosemite). I took the photo halfway down the avalanche track. The avalanche didn't start very high on the cliff, but it certainly traveled about twice as far as I would have predicted. It was a big eye-opener for me.

Remember, this photo was taken only half way down the avalanche track. That big ice block in the foreground, just right of center, is about 3 feet high.

Image
http://www.summitpost.org/view_object.php?object_id=566527

I'd pick your route v-e-r-y carefully.

There are safer routes than the one you are proposing.

two2tandem wrote:I'm in the planning phase for a Trans-Sierra Ski about 6 weeks out and am looking at a route I haven't been able to find much information on. Going West to East I'm hoping to start at Edison Lake (via snowmobile access) and ski the Mono Creek Trail over to Mono Pass. We'll drop down into Rock Creek Canyon from Mono Pass where we'll meet our wives at the Rock Creek Lodge. Hopefully if we are making good time we'll have a day to have some fun skiing up in some of the Mono Recesses. Anyone ever been up in this area during winter? Any thoughts or suggestions from your experience up there?
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Postby asmrz » Tue Jan 19, 2010 12:19 pm

I have little to contribute to your request, but have couple of questions. Why ski Trans-Sierra in the middle of a winter? Some important reasons? From my experience, Sierra snow in mid winter is mostly deep, unconsolidated soft snow, barely passable and not the safest. Why not ski in the late March to early May time frame, when snow pack is hardened by sun and stable, days are longer and the skiable corn snow is in abundance?
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Postby SpiderSavage » Tue Jan 19, 2010 3:36 pm

Here is a classic route the guides do:

http://www.alpineskills.com/spring_shr.html
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Postby two2tandem » Tue Jan 19, 2010 4:05 pm

Thanks for all of the helpful feedback. I'll see if it is possible to push the trip back given all of your input. The partner I am going with has spent quite a bit of time in Rock Creek Canyon and loves the area- that's why we chose the route to end there. Also we are always looking to do something a little off of ordinary and thus have been looking into routes aside from the standard, most popular traverses. I guess there is really good reason the standard traverses are most popular though and don't want to sacrifice safety for the sake of an unique adventure.
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Postby hamik » Tue Jan 19, 2010 4:35 pm

Don't let the popularity of the "standard" traverse faze you! It's not done often, and I think its presence on guiding sites is more testament to the great esteem of the route with the guides than a large client base.

In preparation for my own trip, I made this Google Earth path if you want to check it out: http://hexploits.com/files/High_Sierra_Ski_Traverse.kmz. Hit "Add Content" by Places and load up the path. Zoom in towards Mt Williamson. Enable the Panoramio photos and check out some of the scenery on the way. Basically, it starts on the Shepherd Pass trail head out of Independence, climbs to the pass, traverses Bighorn Basin, crosses the headwaters of the Kern, does some awesome stuff to cross the Kaweahs, traverses the cirques at the heads of Deadman and Cloud canyons, which are fantastic, then crosses the Tablelands to the Pear Lake Hut and Wolverton in Sequoia, near Lodgepole.

I'm interested in this route because, minus some variations, it's the highest and most remote you can get in the Sierra. The avalanche danger seems to increase as you go north towards Mammoth, but that may be due to more use and the visibility of avalanche runouts below timberline. The variety of scenery on this route is also higher: I've traversed (in summer) W to E along the Mono Pass route, and while it's beautiful, it's a little monotonous because a large part of the traverse is in a long E-W former glacial valley. The sides of the U are rather steep, so you will be exposed to avalanches from the valley flanks for about 10 mi through this part. One of the photos above corroborates this. Still, wherever you cross the Sierra, it will be friggin' awesome. Have fun!
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Postby Palisades79 » Thu Jan 21, 2010 3:30 pm

Post this on the talk forum of Telemarktips.com . There are lot's of Sierra backcountry ski posts and there may be some people with specfic knowledge of your proposed route. Have a great trip !
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Postby fish4dinner » Fri Jan 22, 2010 10:42 pm

you could do tioga road and spend a day at the meadows cabin. ive been up that mono ck canyon a lot of times thru the years and there is aways signs of avalance tracks on both sides of the canyon. not to say its a bad idea but just check the long term forcast be aware of the conditions before leaving ( a lot of snow 48 to 72 hrs before) and be safe. that canyon is a hot mother in the summer if we have a warm semi dry feb you could be walking a lot of it good luck and have fun
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Postby SteveC5088 » Sat Jan 23, 2010 1:10 am

Two2T:
Do you have access to someone who can haul you in there on sleds? I ride in that area, and once past the Sample Meadows fork, the elevation drops, and the road can be dry and bare in mid winter, making for some really tough snowmobiling. I've not been to Edison, but have made several runs into Florence, and bare pavement was a issue.

As for the route, I would NOT go if there is lots of fresh snow due to the avalanche issues. However, several weeks after any significant storms, the avi danger should subside. I've made several Trans-Sierra day hikes on that route, and it's a fine place to go.

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