Post subject: Weekend Winnowing Winter on the West Shore (Tahoe Feb 2013)
Posted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 6:17 pm
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2007 11:42 am Posts: 528 Location: Oakland, CA
Date: February 23 & 24, 2013
Location: Along the western shore of that big blue lake
Weather: Light storm weather opening into bluebird
Conditions: 2-8" of blower fresh on dry facets out of the wind, or windpacked peanut butter on breakable crust where exposed
Photos: Schralph, and UCL where noted
Weekend Warriors: Saturday: Schralph, Big Scott, Little Scott, and Jakob Sunday: Schralph, MapleLeafGillies, Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer, and Jakob
Saturday on the West Shore
Part 1 Music: Modest Mouse - Float On
We heard rumours that Winter snuck back into the Tahoe basin a few days before, and figured the front range of the Desolation Wilderness would be a good place to find it still hiding ... somewhere where it wouldn't have been blown away from the 80 mph winds or terrorized by the rays of the sun. Since the early part of January, Winter certainly hasn't been easy to come by around these parts.
Our keen intuition and suspicions proved correct, as we soon found the species very active in this habitat.
We topped out on Jake's peak, fully enveloped in clouds and unable to really see the other peaks of the Desolation Front Range: Tallac, Maggies South, Maggies North, Bliss, Hidden, and Rubicon peaks.
Jakob, visiting from Germany and skiing Lake Tahoe for the first time, had a great idea: go down, toward the lake, and find Winter's droppings.
Found some! What a smart guy. No wonder he is doing an internship for Salewa (Dynafit) this summer!
Big Scott grew up in South Lake Tahoe and never skied the West Shore before this day. No joke. Leave it to some foreigner German to show the locals what's up!
At least he knows how to throw up a wintery powder cloud or two in a scenic vista.
Jakob showed off how the Euros ski powder, with tight knees and skinny skis!
Little Scott said, "Euro Schmuro" ... Yankees can ski like that with big American Muscle-skis ...
... and then blast out of our powder clouds like we weren't even turning in the first place.
Big Scott was happy because we got him some lines of wintery blow on his birthday, so we went back up to cut some more.
This guy really knows how to party!
Sometimes when you party hard, stuff gets broken. No big deal, I took care of it.
Little Scott and Jakob agree: nothing like a good birthday party finding Winter on the West Shore. The blow was so good, we didn't even need hookers.
Sunday on the West Shore
Part 2 Music: Modest Mouse - Fire it Up
The next day Jakob and I went back out to the West Shore (okay, well, Mount Tallac is technically south of the Tahoe shoreline, but it's still part of the Deso Front Range) to see if we could find any other evidence of Winter. We traded Scott and Scott for the hockey team of UCL and MLG.
As I arrived at the top of the peak ... (Photo by UCL)
... I found that my compatriots were getting busy taking field observations at the top of the Cross Couloir. The rock I threw in bounced off the hard windboard, spun, and quickly accelerated into a snowcloud-obscured mass tumbling down the chute at 50 mph.
That smart Euro guy, Jakob, found more reasonable conditions on top of the alternate entrance.
MapleLeafGillies gave it a go, and instantly disappeared into a windblast of icy sugar facets.
That guy had enough guts to keep it together until his vision came back so he could see the gnar below him ... (Photo by UCL)
... and then he got radical. (Photo by UCL)
The line looks a lot more sane from this angle, but the breakable crust jump turn should give some indication of the steepness and challenge.
Jakob was next up. Welcome to California buddy! Here, steep couloirs are a lot more stable in February than back home in the Alps ... not to mention those nice lake-looking things too!
Finally, my turn. Setting up ... (Photo by UCL)
... for a sunny toeside slash turn under the crest of the windlip. Surf's up in Cali! (Photo by UCL)
UCL channeled his spirit totem before it was his turn to send it.
Damn, it worked! Not even Brandon Lee could crush snow like this.
On a spine above the main couloir proper, MapleLeafGillies stared at the ice bulge in the choke of the main entrance. Definitely not worth it today, but next time ...
Okay, now into the Cross proper!
UCL says, "it's good!" ... Right before his Greg Hill Stokes decambered and popped an early vertical release in the slough of his turns. I didn't take any photos of the acrobatics that ensued, but let me tell you that UCL channeled every bit of agility from his spirit totem as he skied on one ski through the couloir, while bending over and reaching to hold the toepiece of his other ski and keep it from rocketing off into oblivion. Good day to forget the leashes at home, doh.
MapleLeafGillies was on my skis for the first time as he followed UCL into the gut of the couloir ... with no Dynafiddle brakes. No worries though, because he made leashes out of zipties while we were gearing up.
"Good stuff Maynard!"
It took him a while to figure out how to ski breakable crust on shortish rockered skis though. (Photo by UCL)
I think he was pretty pleased with the snow on his rented tiny 174 cm K2 touring skis. (Photo by UCL)
And also pretty pleased about skiing under massive rock walls in California.
Alrighty, back to the wannabe surfer guy. (Photo by UCL)
Yup, splitboards crush variable powder and breakable crust with ease and grace.
Good times, West Shore! Thanks so much for the awesome weekend. Hopefully when we come back, Winter will be habitating your trees and couloirs again!