Snowboard bums in Dharma Land

Snowboard bums in Dharma Land

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 38.09330°N / 119.382°W
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Mar 19, 2007
Activities Activities: Skiing
Seasons Season: Winter

The Fun Stuff

If I ever got stuck on a desert island, I'd hope to get stuck with Survivorman, Frank Sinatra, and Emeril.

Unfortunately these were not the people with whom I set out from Tahoe on the fine, sunny morning of March 19 to scamper up and snowboard down the Matterhorn. The sun and blue sky was a welcome sight after months stuck in college up in Washington... a place where, unlike California, it actually snows.

No, the three men in the car were a far different set of characters. I haven't yet had the relief of climbing with fellow women, and I very much look forward to the experience. Meanwhile, I'm happy with the boys. For their privacy and safety, they will be referred to hereafter as Hippy, Manbeast, and Old Man. Hippy has a dog, lives out of his truck, and likes to make random pleasantly phrased comments about the evils of Western medicine. Manbeast is pretty self-explanatory, expressing affection only toward his fat cat, his girl, and his dinner. Old Man is a 20-something work-from-home troll of a man; the highlights of his day are inspecting the mess of his growing beard for tasty bites of last night's dinner and glaring out at the world over his black cup of coffee each morning. I'm Manbeast's girlfriend, who earns her space on the truck by keeping up, always sharing her leftovers and dropping hints whenever the boys start climbing up the wrong peak ("Wow, that peak way over there is awful pretty. Looks kinda like the one we were plannin' on climbing, don't it guys?").

We had shoved our snowboards and mountain gear in the back of Hippy's big red truck (to the objections of the poor dog) and set off on the highway. We passed many redneck outposts scattered across western Nevada and eastern California, butted up against the awesome Sierras jutting out of the desert. I'd gladly buy a trailer and work as a casino waitress just to wake up every morning to that view. And the gas prices.

The guys are solid backcountry snowboarders (when they get on the right mountain), but when it comes to finding the greasiest, saltiest grub in the land, those boys shine. About 45 minutes north of Bridgeport is the Topaz Lodge 24-hour Casino. It's a gem, and the locals agree -- they were in stuffing the slots after church that Sunday morning. (Desperate exaggerated stereotyping aside, everyone we met were truly wonderful, friendly people.)
Ignore the giant bug in the lenseComing up to the peak

Bellies full, the climb began. Manbeast, Old Man and I struggled to navigate our splitboards up the first three miles of patchy snow and bushes. Hippy was the mule, hauling his board on his back to camp in the end of the valley around 8000'. He had strapped a bottle of red wine to the back of his dog to haul up, so we enjoyed the crisp evening in luxury and splendid company.

We awoke at the crack of 10 AM to solid cramponing snow.
Looking down from summitPeeping over the summit
Some skiers we had seen the day before had caught the early part of the corn-window around 1:00, so we figured we'd make a lazy ascent and aim for a 3:00 ride. We rolled into the bowl below the Matterhorn, and then huffed our way up the east couloir to the saddle. The expanse of the Sierras laid out before us. I've spent most of my time in the central and north Cascades, and I've got to say, the Sierras take the cake. I only say that because as an ex-Forest Service ranger, I hate trees. Manbeast pulled me into a wind-protected corner and we slipped out of our crampons for the last scramble to the summit.

Hippy's dog summited. I hope Jack doesn't hear that.
Ski DreamsThe descent line

We dragged our snowboards over the rige to take a peep at Ski Dreams. Old Man reached the top of the line a bit ahead of me. He stabbed his snowboard into the snow and let out a whoop. "Oh man, this is going to be epic!" he shouted at me. "But I don't like epic," I replied, thinking he was kindly telling me it was suicide. It wasn't until I too touched the snow that I realized we were standing atop a beautiful descent line of delicious, wind-packed powder.
The Happy PlaceThe cool chute

It was the best line I've had yet. We floated down Ski Dreams into the bowl, playing with the curves of the wide chute, and then swung across the valley to the top of the final chute through 100' beautiful walls to camp. Only the finely aged cheese and sausage we had waiting for us at camp were able to break the grins on our faces just enough to chew.

Camp to car, on the other hand, blew chunks. Postholing for three miles, I've discovered, isn't any more fun when you have a snowboard on your back.

To end on a positive note, the 24-hour casino diner was waiting for the boys with platters of nachos, cheese sticks, cheese-fried steak and big hamburgers to coat our aching muscles with fat, grease, and calories. We satisfied our stomachs and burped out happy noises of delight.

Summary of Useful Information

The conditions of Matterhorn at the time were perfect for touring and climbers accessing with snowshoes except for the first three miles, where extensive postholing and sketchy snow conditions must be suffered. From about 8000' upwards, we had solid cramponing in the morning up the east couloir to the base of the summit scramble. We had wind-packed powder coming down off the top of Ski Dreams around 3 PM. Even the chute pictured had good edging snow.[img:281512:alignright:small:The cool chute] Spring corn!


Post a Comment
Viewing: 1-17 of 17
Dan Dalton

Dan Dalton - Mar 28, 2007 2:24 pm - Voted 10/10

Right on!

Solid trip report and awesome pictures! I cannot believe you snowboard down things like this! I'll stick to using my legs to get me up and down... Congrats!



littlefrantz - Mar 28, 2007 7:35 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Right on!

Thanks, Dan! Hope to hear about your adventures soon.


KRomanIV - Mar 28, 2007 2:46 pm - Voted 10/10

Well done!

That was a great report, I like your writing style: informational and comical put together smoothly. I'm gonna agree with Dan and stick with my legs but it definitely sounds like you all had a blast. Congrats!



littlefrantz - Mar 28, 2007 7:35 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Well done!

Descending is much easier on a snowboard! Thanks for your comment.


Saintgrizzly - Mar 28, 2007 4:40 pm - Voted 10/10


...enjoyed this one; "well done," indeed!


littlefrantz - Mar 28, 2007 7:34 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: I...


AviP - Mar 28, 2007 7:10 pm - Hasn't voted

The mystery man!

Nice report but who's Jack? Oops, you just told everyone you bum boy's name. ;-)


littlefrantz - Mar 28, 2007 7:34 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: The mystery man!

Almost! I'm referring to Jack Kerouac in the "Dharma Bums," who failed to reach the top of the Matterhorn in his spiritual test. :)


mow10 - Mar 31, 2007 11:03 pm - Voted 10/10

jack would be proud

Thanks for putting up a report of your trip! It was very Kerouac-esk and we can all be sure that if snowboards were around in the 60's Jack, Gary Snyder and Allen Ginsberg would have had them in their packs. However, I think they went late summer, and Gary tried to get Jack up the 5.6 N arete ropeless (I think that was their route), so the dog wouldn't have put him to shame too bad. I hope to get some turns in with you and your possee sometime!!

MTN Trader

MTN Trader - Apr 1, 2007 3:50 pm - Voted 10/10

Re: jack would be proud

I'd think that they didn't climb anything Class five-ish. After summiting, Japhy was depicted as jumping and leaping down the mountain, something you wouldn't do off a nearly vertical rock face. The Secor guidebook lists the Southeast Slope as Class 2, and easy from Horse Creek Pass. Also the Class 3 East Couloir is described as "obvious."


littlefrantz - Apr 2, 2007 6:58 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: jack would be proud

You as well!


jvarholak - Apr 1, 2007 5:23 pm - Hasn't voted

fun read

Great TR Littlefrantz.....I suspect you had that awesome smile of yours working overtime...
PS: Jack hears everthing...he's jealous of Hippy's K9


littlefrantz - Apr 2, 2007 8:04 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: fun read

I am too. This dog had been out on adventures since it was a pup. It was in better shape than any of us!


littlefrantz - Apr 2, 2007 8:02 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Awesome JOB!!!



bigbendbetty - Apr 2, 2007 10:29 pm - Voted 10/10

Great TR

That was a great read. I've never gone to the top of Matterhorn but I love Slide Hill Canyon (north east of Matterhorn) - its a beautiful area around there


littlefrantz - Apr 3, 2007 10:34 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Great TR

Thanks. It's not the valley the trail goes up through, I assume? I'm hoping to go back and spend several days exploring some of the other peaks in the area. If you have any suggestions, please PM me! :)


clarkr - Apr 23, 2007 11:36 pm - Hasn't voted

Awesome Ride

Great shot from the top of Ski Dreams. I was up there a week behind
ya. Didn't quite reach my goal. May be next year.
Great Job!!

Viewing: 1-17 of 17



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