Sierra’s February Update
Fresh off a frigid January rafting trip through the Grand Canyon I spent a week bouldering in Bishop before meeting up with Ingmar for some backcountry shredding in the Eastern Sierra. Our arrival coincided with a foot of freshies which tempted us to a day at the resort and effortless lap after lap of new snow. On Saturday we decided to give Mammoth a break and headed to Lee Vining to up our ice game. After jockeying with three guided groups we were left to session a smaller icefall at the top of the canyon that is usually covered with snow, but due to the low snow year was quite enjoyable.
After being crushed by the crowds at Lee Vining, Ingmar and I headed to the Bloody Mountain just south of the town of Mammoth. Sunday morning we were greeted by snowmobiles at the trailhead and after getting an embarrassingly late start, we somehow overtook the snowmo posse as they slowly skinned towards their objective. Upon passing them we got a second wind and got our hustle on and neared the top of the Bloody Couloir around 1, but with poor visibility, wind, and well below freezing temperatures we called it early and skied the lion’s share of the couloir in epic mid-winter conditions.
After a day of recharging and resort riding in Mammoth we decided to jump on the Pinner Couloir. Tuesday morning we arrived at Convict Lake around 9am where we met up with two Mammoth locals and began the skin over to the Pinner. After a laborious boot pack up the couloir we topped out on the summit ridge of Mt. Laurel. Due to its eastern exposure we encountered extremely variable conditions but had quite a few excellent turns.
In an attempt to rest our legs we decided to cruise south for a day of sport climbing at Owen’s River Gorge. The Central Gorge was incredibly crowded but we had the Social Platform wall all to ourselves for the majority of the day. The warm weather and change of pace was exactly what we needed to re-up the level of stoke.
Still sick of the crowds we decided to again hit the Mammoth Backcountry. After meeting up with our friend Eric in the Lakes Basin parking lot we skinned up past the Lake George Headwall and headed west to the top of the Hollywood Chute. After dropping the chute we found ourselves floating through the trees in some gloriously soft and untouched snow. With Presidents weekend quickly approaching we knew it was time to escape Mammoth and formulated a plan to spend the weekend climbing back down at the Gorge.
With a late arrival to the P.V. Pit campground we managed to snag one the last campsites and settled in for the long weekend. Owen’s was surprisingly uncrowded for a holiday weekend and we were able to enjoy ample climbing in warm perhaps even tropical feeling weather. With weeping finger tips and sore forearms we said goodbye to the Gorge and made our way back to Mammoth with high hopes the forecasted storm would dump some of the good stuff all over the “range of light.”