Ski Mountaineering

Carson Peak (North Couloir)

Jan 23, 2005

Reiner Stenzel

On Saturday, Jan 22, the SMS had a fine ski clinic at June Mtn, organized by Keith Martin with support from Owen Maloy, Andy Fried and myself. It was well attended and Urmas Franosh gave excellent ski clinics.

On Sunday, we had no specific agenda. Most people skied at Mammoth Mtn, but four of us (Leslie Hofherr, Mark Angevin, Marc Druyts, and myself) decided to do a half-day backcountry tour. The day before I had spotted a great chute on the north side of Carson Peak. It runs approx. N-S parallel to Fern Creek, about 0.4mi west of the creek, and climbs steeply for about 1500 feet to a ridge half-way between Fern Lake and the summit. John Moynier calls it the "Devil's Slide" in his guide book "Backcountry skiing in the Sierra Nevada". Since the chute is mostly in the shade we expected (and found) some nice powder snow in it. Starting from the June Lake Road (S-158) near Fern Creek at 7,300' it took about 2 hours to skin up the chute in many switchbacks. At some places the kickturns on windcrust at 40 deg angles were dicey. It is rated as black/double black diamond terrain.

We had a great view from the top of the chute, overlooking Fern Lake and the slopes leading to San Joaquin Mtn. To the north was Mt Wood, which we had skied three years ago. One could also see the "poconip" (Paiute for freezing fog) over Mono Lake where two of us camped Sat night.

A summit attempt to Carson Peak (10,900') was canceled due to the limited time and steepness of the terrain. The ski run down the chute was exciting. Snowboarder Marc was in heaven, Leslie and Mark randonneed safely down and I had my fun with telejumps and turns.

We took many pictures and video clips of snowboarding, randonnee skiing and telemark skiing and looked back at our tracks in the chute. By 1pm we were safely back at the cars with a happy mood after another fine ski mountaineering adventure.

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