Packing skis above Kite Lake with low hanging clouds
I was looking for a short, safe ski descent, so I decided to try out the West Gully of Mount Bross. I was fairly sure that I wouldn't get a summit descent this late in the season, but I was confident that I would get at least 1500 feet or so for the day.
I parked my car just below the Kite Lake parking at about 5:30 am where the snow impeded any more driving. Stepping out of the car, I was met with high winds and driving snow. The cloud ceiling was hanging at approximately 13,000 feet, and it made the Kite Lake drainage look very menacing indeed. Although a little apprehensive about pushing on, I figured I would just go as far as prudence dictated and then turn around if conditions warranted it.
The Kite Lake road had spotty snow, so I decided to pack my skis until I got nearer to the snow gully. I quickly passed the gate, and clicked into my skis to skin up the rest of the drainage. I soon found myself at the entrance to the West Gully, and so far, the weather had not improved at all. The snow had stopped, but the clouds were still hanging low. I gambled that the wind would push it off Bross for me, and corn up the gully. Fingers crossed, I pressed on into the gully.
The gully's snow was still extremely hard, but at least it made for easy skinning. About halfway up the gully, I stopped to take a few photos. Luckily, the clouds had blown off of Bross, letting the sun hit the gully. I took a few photos of large clouds circling Mount Democrat. It was an impressive sight.
Spurred on by the sun's appearance, I quickly skinned the rest of the gully. The snow petered out at about 13,600 feet, as I expected it would, and I decided to forgo the summit since I had been up there several times. I wasn't up for getting blasted by wind, either. I decided to relax at the top of the gully and wait for the snow to corn up a little more before I skied down.
I took some photos of the route down, and also snapped some cool photos of the sun rising above the gully.
I finally decided it was time to go for it. I was getting chilly and the sun had been on the gully enough to make it fun. I clicked into my skis and proceeded to make turns down the gully. This gully is really fun to ski! It has a very serpentine nature, and the walls of the gully slope up gently, making a sort of natural half-pipe. I skied with wide traverses, making the most of the fun walls. I stopped halfway down to take a breath and noticed some campers in Kite Lake were outside their tents and pointing at me.
All too soon, the gully ended and I was back in the Kite Lake drainage. I spotted a snow gully that I hadn't noticed on the way up that would take me back to right next to my car. Great! I enjoyed the mellow terrain and was quickly back at my car. All in all, it was a fantastic little ski route. I promised myself that I would return earlier next Spring and hit this one when the snow goes to the summit.
Round Trip Mileage: 2.3 miles
Feet Skied: 2,300 feet
Looking down the West Gully from 13,600 feet