Ski Mountaineering

Blue Couloir and Virginia Lakes
May 23-25, 1998

Leaders: Keith Martin, Owen Maloy

Sky Meadow Tour Blue Couloir in Snow Saturday we skied up to the Blue Couloir (permanent snowfield above Sky Meadow next to the "Blue Crag"). Above 10,500' there was some heavy snow from the recent storms. The road was not plowed past Twin Lakes and time got short, so only Reed Moore went all the way to the top to ski the funky snow. There were snow showers while we were there, and visibility was poor for a while.

Sky Meadow Tour Joy Goebel Ths scenery in the area is awesome. Compare the view of Mammoth Mountain (click on the icon to the left) with the same view taken in July 1995. Coming down we skied a steep chute full of heavy snow and your correspondent entertained the party with a triple somersault ending (of course) with skis sticking into the snow. This tour was about 8 miles, 2200' of gain. Some USFS types told me that the road was not plowed because the Town Council felt that "There's nothing to do up there."

Sunday the weather cleared and we skied Virginia Canyon and left tracks on top of those left the previous day by the Loma Prieta Ski Touring Section led by Andy Hudson. There was perfect corn below the pass. Two people went up to Excelsior, where the snow was heavier. In spite of the *very* gradual pitch much of the way we heard no complaints. We came flying around one corner and noticed that the slope didn't seem exactly, well, continuous. There was a 20-foot cornice. Nobody seemed to want to go for Big Air, so we sideslipped by the end of it. There was one steep bowl with avalanche debris in it. When we skied it nine days later it slid while we were looking at it.

Monday it was raining in Mammoth. People were scattered in several houses and condos, and only a few hardy souls went out in the rain briefly for a light tour before heading home. Tuesday morning we had about 4 inches of freshies at my house (8300').

People from five Sierra Club chapters participated: Larry Bigler, Andy Fried, Joy Goebel, Paul Harris, Bahram Manahedgi, Keith Martin (Angeles); Kathy Crandall (Mother Lode); Tani Barbour, Reed Moore, Alvin Walter (San Diego); Mike McDermitt (SF Bay); Owen Maloy (Toiyabe). Richard Orloff of June Lake also came along. Two were randonée skiers, the rest telemarkers.

Owen Maloy

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