Ski Mountaineering

Kaiser Wilderness Skipack

April 2-3, 1994

Tom Marsh

This unique tour started with a adventurous group of four ski mountaineers meeting in the Sno-Park parking lot a the northeast corner of Huntington Lake on Saturday (Howard Schultz, Don Buttons, Mike Rector and myself). Because the Kaiser Pass Road was bare for three miles to our trailhead, we decided to take our chances and drive up the closed road until we could go no further. Luckily we were able to cut a mile off our hike. After walking the remaining two miles on the road, we eventually were able to get to consistent snow at the Potter Pass trail. The weather was quite pleasant and the snow was soft enough to allow us to easily traverse to Potter Pass (three miles and 1,000 feet higher). Once at Potter Pass, we dropped our packs and skied up to the top of Peak 9712 for spectacular views of the Sierra Nevada to the north and east, Huntington Lake and the central valley to the south, and Kaiser Peak to the West. We then ripped off our skins (ouch!) and enjoyed a mile of open downhill in relatively soft corn snow to the pass. Getting late in the day, we skied down the remaining one and a half miles to Round Meadows.

Round Meadows had everything a good campsite in winter should have, a meandering stream, flat tent sites, walled in by beautiful snow capped peaks and plenty of visible firewood. Howard built a nice kitchen complete with table and chairs (with back rests) with his snow saw. We then had dinner before torching our dinner table with a warm blazing fire. Ski mountaineering tales abound along with the occasional joke. After retiring for the night under clear skies a weather front arrived at about one a.m. in the morning with about two inches of snow.

On Sunday, Howard led the group up an interestin traverse up to the Potter Pass, after which, he conviriced all but one of us to forgo our skins on the icy slopes and try the "side shimmy". It worked wonderfully, as we navigated through a sometimes dense forest in short order down to the trailhead. Once on the road, Howard demonstrated his ski skating skills for the remaining snow covered sections of road down to the cars.

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