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 Post subject: Red Slate Mtn - 4/17/07
PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 2:03 am 
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Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2005 11:38 pm
Posts: 33
Location: Truckee, CA
A couple weeks back I caught a glimpse of the Red Slate Basin from near the top of Mt. Laurel.

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The view made my quads twitchy. There were so many sick lines to ride. Then I caught this view of the NW face from the top of Pyramid Peak a day later.

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That view made my brain swell and ego itch. I was so instantly anxious to taste the glory of riding off that summit. My next alpine fix had to be a line on Red Slate.

So early last week, my coveted summit window opened, but just barely. The storm of the previous weekend dropped 6-10 inches down to the level of Convict Lake, priming the approach trail for the ski in. With nuff respect for the scale of the drainage, my wife and I left Monday morning rucked up for an overnight or two. Donning skis about a half mile after the Pinner on Laurel, travel was pretty easy relatively. Even the creek confluence where the bridge is out was nicely frozen up. That afternoon we dropped camp across from Baldwin and cruised up the basin lookers left of Red Slate to recon conditions and eye up whether the upper section of the main coolie would go.

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We found Northeast facing bowls held creamy wind packed pow while West faces were breakable. Unfortunately the upper section of the coolie didn't look so hot though. Could have probably been billygoated on skis but it looked dangerously reefy and to ride it would have required unstrapping and boot packing a short section in the most exposed area.

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The next day dawned and the wind was roaring. The forecast had called for a breezy day but the system that was causing it was supposed to go North and only bring a few high clouds. Leaving the tent and facing the nasty gales we headed for the summit via the massive bowl that flanks the peak lookers right.

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Along the way we caught a nice view of the sexy gash that frames the southwest side of Baldwin.

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Skinning up the main bowl the snow was densely packed pow and wind board. As the bowl rolled over onto the plateau of the ridge the snow got scoured so we shouldered the boards and busted out the crampons for the push to the talus ridge. When we hit the ridge to make the final thousand foot push to the summit the winds were making talus travel nearly impossible. That corridor is an insane wind tunnel. The sustained wind speeds were over 40 with gusts to ?. My 125 pound wife was literally pinned to the rocks for minutes at a time. And the wind was not alone. Big dense clouds hovered just peaks away. Time to get er done and get out.

About 100 yards from the summit the talus made way for about 2 feet of somewhat dense but completely unconsolidated pow. Post holing in the snow was ok but the spindrift was miserable on the face.

But soon the summit was underfoot and the transition race was on. I wish I could have spent more time soaking in the view but it was not the day nor the hour. I tried to take a look down into the couloir but the cornice that guarded it was pretty fiesty.

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The snow rolling off the summit was dreamy wind pack. At the throat of the NW face the choke was about 40 feet wide and between 35 and 40 degrees I'd guess. The only spicy bit was that over half the choke was still last year's blue ice. Thankfully there was a 15 foot wide ribbon of 2ft deep wind blown that felt solid but not hollow. Here's the view down from just after the choke.

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Descending back down to our ascent route in the bowl the snow scoured up before turning back to wind board and wind packed.

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The storm was now fully brewing in our drainage so we hightailed back to camp to decide whether to bail or sit out the storm for the night. Hoping for maybe another heaping helping we decided to stay put and work our way out the next day. Crazy storm dreams ensued and we slept well.

As typical this year, the storm tried to sh*t but only farted and we awoke to about 3 inches. Cold and over it, we packed up and headed down the psychedelically patterned canyon and back to reality.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 7:31 am 
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Joined: Fri Feb 23, 2007 10:13 am
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Location: Too far from snow to close to sand
Great TR wishin' my wife would be alittle more gung ho to do that type of trip(overnight) but afraid it ain't gonna happin'. You live in Mammoth? Hows the stuff south of you like Onion Valley(Kearsarge)? Any info would be more than I have... :cry:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 7:34 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2004 8:18 pm
Posts: 269
Location: Bishop, Ca
nice!

Good to see some more stuff from the east side.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 7:37 pm 
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Joined: Fri Nov 12, 2004 12:37 pm
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Location: in between
nice TR.

There's a geology lesson in there somewhere.
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 8:31 am 
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Joined: Wed Oct 06, 2004 10:57 pm
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Location: California
Excellent work bigfoot and mrs!

:thatrocks:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 10:04 am 
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Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2004 8:41 pm
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Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Great pics and writeup! Really want to get back there one of these days... In this pic, is that Red Slate in the background? Quite a different perspective.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 8:51 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2005 11:38 pm
Posts: 33
Location: Truckee, CA
Thanks for the love. It was indeed a great trip.

thesystemsplit - Onion Valley is open to the campground from what I have heard - check out the cali forum on summitpost for all the latest trailhead beta. Usually they keep a "road closed" sign up somewhere low to limit their rockfall liability. We have always just driven right around it.

JimW - Yep. That's her. Pretty rugged looking face this year. There's a few sneaker lines that sometimes fill in on the face though. That angle gives a good perspective on how far skiers left the coolie traverses the fallline. Check the shorter shot that also dumps into the north bowl below the main couloir. You can ride to the top of that shot w/o unstrapping from the NW face line.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 12:03 am 
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Posts: 62
another voice stoked for more eastside action. thanx. but the question needs to be asked: what did you ski on laurel and pyramid???


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 7:21 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2005 11:38 pm
Posts: 33
Location: Truckee, CA
I have never skied anything on Laurel or Pyramid...8)
...but four weeks ago we shredded the Pinner on Laurel...
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...and the namesake NW face to the Banana chute on Pyramid.
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The Mendenhall and the Parachute never filled in this year


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 7:27 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2005 5:12 pm
Posts: 1598
Location: Now Oaktowntastic
Nice! :thatrocks: You've really got to post more often...

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 11:11 pm 
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Location: California
SanFrantastico wrote:
Nice! :thatrocks: You've really got to post more often...


Seconded!! Very fine stoke indeed.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 5:54 am 
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Posts: 610
Location: Mendham, NJ
Thirdedidediodiidedd......

Yeah post more!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 8:27 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 09, 2006 8:22 pm
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Location: Switzerland
THAT'S a wife!

(I am happy with my wife, but it's going to be a while until she will join me in the BC, especially overnighters in winter conditions)


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