This trip can only be done on maybe one or two days per year, as it requires a cold heavy snowfall when the snowline drops well below 6,000' but doesn't produce terribly unsafe avalanche conditions. Yes, I know, this doesn't happen often -- but when it does, this trip is a half day gem.
This is best done as a car shuttle trip, taking advantage of highway 50's drop from the Camp Sacramento area down to Strawberry. Put one car at Strawberry and then drive up to Camp Sacto. Depending on snow accumulations, you can usually park in the Ralston Trail trailhead lot (unplowed, bring a shovel). Cross the highway and find a safe spot to cross the river. Don't trust every snowbridge!
Ski initially along the south bank of the river, but then just sidehill due west along the 6,400 contour. Make the gentle climb up to the unnamed roundish peak at the 6,720' contour (I've heard this thing called "Stoney Dome").
A nice mellow ski NW off the summit of Stoney Dome will deposit you at the shoulder between the main wall of Lovers Leap and the East Wall. Ascend the north slope of Lovers Leap (the rock wall will be on your right as you climb up). At the summit, turn around and rip turns back down the face. If you are bold and stupid, dance with death by skiing near the edge of the cliff face. If you are Shane McConkey
, you'll ski off the cliff itself and whip out your parachute on the way down (as seen in last year's MSP production -- "Focused
", where McConkey graces the cover shot BASEing off Lovers Leap).
Back at the shoulder of Lovers Leap/East Wall, the fun isn't over. The east wall can be skied right along the line where the granite becomes so steep that snow won't stick. Um, you'll want to ski on the right side
where the snow is. This is steep and fun, with a tricky exit as you get down to the Pony Express flat due to some cliffbands that need to be negotiated.
If the snow is good and safe, finish off your trifecta by climbing up the backside of the hogsback and ripping down its NE face. At the bottom, you can either traverse over to the Strawberry bridge below LL campground, or cheat your way across many of the various logs spanning the river. Warning: this can be tricky
Ski/Snowboard, Skins, Shovel, Probe, Beacon, Common Sense.
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