Mount Wood is a fantastic ski peak with phenomenal descents in nearly every category. Low angle trees, open slopes of various pitches to harvest corn or milk powder turns, steep alpine bowls, and both wide and narrow rocky couloirs. Views abound in 360 degrees of delight. While the East Face offers 5,500 vertical foot runs at a glorious pitch, the Northeast Face, or Hanging Gardens, presents an exciting and beautiful alternative. If you are comfortable skiing above a terminal 150-200 foot cliff and navigating through steep terrain with many exposed and shallowly hidden rocks, you will be treated to an exceptionally aesthetic and memorable Sierra descent.
Much like the ancient Hanging Gardens of Babylon (whose beauty and 'hanging in space nature' inspired the nomenclature of this route), the beautiful aesthetic of this ski descent may be realized under the right conditions, but also may be merely a poetic creation in smaller snow years rendering a rocky traverse to avoid the final cliffs.
Highway 395 to June Lake Loop, take either the north or south end to just north of Silver Lake. Take the south loop if you want to stop in at Trout Town Joe's coffeeshop for some brew.
Climb up the south facing slopes to the upper east facing bowl. By exiting the face onto the south ridge, you win a mellow walk to the summit with glorious views in all directions. Beginning with a steep entrance dropping in to a larger than life face perched above a 150 foot cliff band. The exit to this 2000 vertical foot 35 degree average (40-45 degree entrance and sustained for 300-500ft, with possible cornice drop at the top) hanging face is via a skiers left ridgeline through rocky trees. This face leads to a fantastic treed area and traverses out towards the main East Face, where another 3000 feet of fabulous open slope corn or powder skiing will return you to the car.
Just regular old backcountry ski gear. This route should not be skied when significant avalanche conditions exist. Care must also be taken when climbing the east face and when traversing below it later in the day.
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