Peak skiing in the Eastern Sierra

Bryce and Jeff asked me to show them what makes the spring skiing in the Eastern Sierra so special.

20100501.  For starters, no laps required.  Most of the ascents and descents are 2500-5000 feet.  And they involve great summits, incredible views, great corn snow, and a warm bed and hot tub visit at the end of the day.So on Saturday we headed up to June Lake and the East Slopes of Mt. Wood (12,650 ft).  Despite looking for a continuous snow slope to start from the car, we ended up booting the first couple 500' before putting on boards and skinning (later, on the way down, we'd be able to ski further down).  With a late start and a big climb, we weren't actually aiming for the summit:  we simply wanted to climb as high as we could and get a good ski down.

The East Slopes of Mt. Wood are visible to the left in this photo of the North Face.
Photo courtesy of Summit Post (www.summitpost.com) and submitted by granjero.

After a short boot-pack, a skin across aspen groves and mid-elevation meadows, we finally started climbing the upper slopes.  But at 3:30pm, just 1500' below the summit, the snow began to change from the nice sun softened snow to a crusty and stiff pack.  This did not feel like fun skiing if we continued up, so we didn't!  Strip off the skins, slap the bindings and boots into "down-mode", and we started down.  The first pitch was unremarkable turns in that crust and stiffness, but below was fantastic turn in sun-soft goodness.  A quick dogleg to the north of Ward Peak gave us another 700 feet of skiing down one of the gullys, stopping only 100 feet above the road.

And lucky-for-us, an old pack trail crossed the gully just where the snow ended, and we enjoyed a short walk back to the road, but a 1/4-mile away from the car.  Nothing a quick game of Ones-And-Twos* can't solve, and Jeff "wins" the walk to retrieve the car, saving us all a hike in boots and gear.  Thanks Jeff!

Statistics:  East Slopes, Mt. Wood.  12,650 feet.  Climbed and skied 4000 feet, reaching 11,100 feet elevation, in 6 hours.

Photos?  Bryce was the only one of us carrying a camera that day, and he promised to send me photos sometime this week.  And I have a map made, but its saved on a desktop computer in Bishop.  So I'll add both to this posting and edit as soon as possible.

*Ones-And-Twos?  Ones-And-Twos, or Odd-Man-Out is a Rock-Paper-Scissors game for three people.  Fists and gestures are per RPS, but instead of gesturing for piece of paper, a rock, or a pair of scissors, the players simply put out a "One" or a "Two".  Odds are, one player will have an different number of fingers from the other two.  If everyone gestures Ones or Twos, simply play another round!