Ski Mountaineering

Mt. Wood: Wait Until Next Year?
Mar 27-28, 1999

Mark Goebel

Mt. Wood rises 5000' above Grant and Silver Lakes, just north of June Lake in the Sierra. Its east facing slope curves upward at an ever steeper angle to the 12,000' summit. A challenge to climb and to ski for sure. I scheduled it last May and continuous El Niño storms forced a change to San Gorgonio instead. It was scheduled again for this May, but the co-leader couldn't make it in May, so we svatched it to March 27th. While Mammoth Mountain has lots of snow, in the week prior to the 27th I learned that La Niña wind storms have blown snow away from Mt. Wood except for the highest slopes. With the prospect of a long walk for questionable snow I decided to cancel the trip. Also, only one other person besides the leaders had shown any interest. As I recall, interest last year was also light. I am told that by May the snow will be gone from Mt. Wood. Clearly, timing is everything.

I am surprised that there was so little interest in this trip. I has the potential for a really big ski descent. Sure you first have to climb up 5000', but that's how this game works. You know, "earn your turns." I would be interested to know what type of trips our membership is eager to see led, and I am sure our other leaders would also. Just might give us some good ideas for next season. So I encourage the membership to write, fax, or e-mail your trip suggestions to Mugeinoos editor Don Ralphs for publication in a future issue. Even if you don't have a specific trip in mind, just let us know what you like or don't like to ski in the backcountry. Anonymous submission are OK.

Still looking for something to ski, Bahram Manahedgi and I rocketed to Mammoth Friday night in his turbo-charged Audi. Saturday we skied the mountain top-to-boftom, hardly waited in any lines, interviewed two 10-year-old racers on the lift (they live in the Bay area, ski really fast, maybe 40 mph, and race 2x month), decided not to challenge them to a race, but did nearly ski our legs off, and had a grand time.

Early Sunday we drove south to Onion Valley where we were able to reach the mostly snow covered parking lot at 9200'. From there we skinned up about 2000' to a gully on a south facing slope above Gilbert Lake. While the snow pack around Mammoth is approximately normal, and the northern Sierra towards Tahoe is well above normal, the southern Sierra is about two thirds of normal. Above Onion Valley, the south facing slopes have about 3 feet of coverage. The cool breezy weather kept the snow in good shape, and we enjoyed many fun turns on our way down the hill. Spring corn season is definitely here. Enjoy!

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