Ski Mountaineering

False White
April 30, 2001 (Private trip)

Owen Maloy

"False White" is the 12,002' peak on the ridge north of Tioga Pass that is in front of the real White, which is just south of Mt. Conness. False White has a huge skiable face that is readily seen as one drives up the Tioga road (SR 120) past Ellery Lake. The Tioga road is plowed from the east long before Tioga Pass opens, and as soon as the road opens local skiers throng to the parking lot above Tioga Lake and ski Mt. Dana to the south and the ridge north. I think the tour up along the ridge is much more interesting than Dana. There are many chutes to ski down, and a beautiful flat tour out along Mine Creek past the Bennettville mining camp.

Gerry and Pat Holleman, Joy Goebel, Wally Drake, and I met in the parking lot at 8 AM and contoured up the northeast side of Gaylor Peak. Most of the routes up are a slog. It is possible to go up from the Park entrance after walking up the road, but this is steeper than it looks and requires some loss descending from the ridge into Gaylor Lakes. A better route is to find the right gully up the northeast side of Gaylor and then cross over into the Gaylor-Granite Lakes area. The most gradual way is to go all the way to the end of the drainage and then turn left (south), coming out on the NE side of Gaylor, and then traverse up and over the ridge. A big cornice blocks a more direct route. We went up a bit early and as usual I had trouble following Gerry's steep line, in spite of having brand new skins. As I neared the top, Wally and Gerry skied down by me, making a tele run. I found later that my family radio had fallen out of my pack during the climb.

We skied up past the Great Sierra Mine and some amazing cornices to the top of the knob (11887') south of False White. The knob was full of rocks. I followed Wally's line, which got into a sticky place requiring a careful step down through some rocks. Looking at the map, it appears that it is better to go around the knob on the west.

The others had gone up to the ridge and were having lunch not far away, but I stopped at the saddle just southeast of the peak. It appeared that the snow was better there, and the ridge was only a few feet higher.

We all skied down the 600' face on perfect corn. After shopping for the best snow, I realized I was wasting vertical and settled for medium-radius parallel turns down the fall line, trying to look like a ski instructor being watched by the bosses. At the bottom of the face, Joy and I decided to tour out to Bennettville, which she had never seen, while the others elected to go back along the ridge and ski the killer chutes on Gaylor. Joy and I had about 1400' of vertical left to ski before reaching the creek above Fantail Lake. We never needed skins on the way out. Single-cambered skis climb without skins or wax fairly well.

After a beautiful tour out along Mine Creek with great views, we inspected the buildings at Bennettville, and then toured out through the notch along the old road that leads to Tioga Tarns and back to the parking lot. This is the best way into this area. Going up from Tioga Pass Resort gets one into an area of creek gorges with vertical rock walls, bare outcrops, and brush, and involves more gain. There is no place to make turns, while the route along the old road allows one to ski open slopes right down to the road, or tour directly to the parking lot.

A few days later the Range of Light Group skied into the Mine Creek area on lighter gear, going as far as Spuller Lake and part way up the slopes Joy and I had skied down. Going in I searched in vain for my radio, but a few days later one of the local skiers called me. She had found it on the peak.

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