Ski Mountaineering

Duck Pass
April 25-27, 2003

Randy Lamm

This trip was originally listed as a three day base camp in the Convict Lake Drainage, but due to a high snow line in that area we moved to a base camp just below Duck Pass from the Coldwater Campground trail head. On Thursday nite, Tom, Mike Rector and I carpooled up to the Convict Lk Campground, arriving at 11pm we met Bill Lutz in the parking lot.

It was Cold and windy at Convict, but Bill had been soaking in a new hot pool he found down in Long Valley, so it was decided we would go there to camp. Driving on the Whitmore Road we took the usual first left on to the dirt road and went down it a couple of miles and turned right and went around a mile further. Eventually Bill pulled up to a playa mesa where we parked and got our bags out, but first we had a nice soak in the hot pool - a good way to start a trip.

The next morning we met the rest of our group at the Lake Mary Road end. Our group consisted of leader Tom, me assisting, Mike Rector, Bill Lutz, Joe McGuire, Helga Zimmer (Alpha Female #1), and Evelyn McGuire (Alpha Female #2), Wally Drake and Craig Connaly. After a 3 hour slog we eventually found a place to camp a little above Barney Lk at about 10,400'. The rest of the day was spent setting up our camp. Tom and I set up our tents, Joe and the Alpha Females set up a megamid. Craig and Wally started work on an Igloo. Craig had brought his special Igloo building tool (a form with a long broom stick attached). After about 4 hrs they put the capstone on the igloo and moved in. The rest of us built a kitchen with a snow wall.

Evelyn, Helga and Joe and Bill went out for afternoon tours on the ridge just west of Barney Lk. Soon the sun went down and everyone cooked dinner and went to bed fairly early.

The next morning it was sunny and reasonably calm. After breakfast everyone started heading up towards Duck Pass. At the top we turned right and headed along the ridge over towards the west. We toured around and looked down on Dear Lakes and Blue Couloir. After lunch some of us decided to ski down to Duck Lk and across to climb the peak on the southwest side.

There was a nice run down some corn snow. To get to the base of this mountain Joe, Helga, Evely and I climbed to the top, while Tom, Mike and Bill went back to base camp. The run down was heavy powder and mashed potatoes. After skiing back across Duck Lk. We had a nice run back down Duck Pass to our base camp. Wally and Craig bailed out early as Craig had to be at a birthday part for his daughter on Sunday. Bill immediately moved into the igloo.

As we were changing and watching the sun set, we noticed clouds coming in from over Mammoth Mt. Soon it started snowing. With our snow kitchen we had enough room for everyone to socialize and cook. Mike pulled a plastic bottle of Schlivavitz from his jacket and passed it around, and Tom had an endless supply of paraffin wax bars that he kept stoking his wax fire with. As the snow came down stronger it started spattering the wax fire. The party moved into the igloo where it was quiet and warmer. Mike and Bill spent the nite in the igloo. Joe and the Alpha Females were warm in their Megamid.

The next morning there was high clouds and we did a short tour up to the pass to farm some of the powder from last nite. Although it snowed pretty hard for a little while, it was not enough to cover the frozen corn surface underneath. About 2 inches of lite dry stuff on a very firm base. It was still skiable and everyone had decent run or two down, Evelyn did about 4 or 5 runs. I had a run down a steep slope with a thin film of dust on crust. Each turn was scraping the ice underneath. When I got to the bottom of the 3-400' slope I could see that a small slide had come slowly down behind me going right thru the middle of my tracks. It made a good picture.

We then packed up and skied down tour cars. Joe and the Alpha Females headed back to the Bay Area, Mike, Bill, Tom and I went back to Bill's private Hot Pool. Along the way we ran into Mike and Lorene who were out driving around looking for hot springs, so they followed us to ours. After cleaning up we headed to the Bishop Taqueria before driving the 250 miles back to LA. Another fine SMS trip in the easten sierra. Thanks to all who participated.

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