Ski Mountaineering

Virginia Peak

April 28-30, 1990

Greg Jordan

We had planned to do the Trans Sierra High Route, but because of reports of poor snow conditions we canceled and decided to try a base camp farther north. Five of us, Reiner Stenzel, Don Pies, Tom Jenkins, Marcia Male and the undersigned left LA on Friday and spent the night at a friend's in Tom's Place.

After some debate between the merits of Mt. Conness out of Saddlebag Lake and the Matterhorn area out of Twin Lakes the latter was chosen. There was very little snow along the trail and we carried skis until the trail petered out. After some boulder/willow hopping we made it to skiable snow. Camp was made along Horse Creek at 9200' just north of the direct approach to Matterhorn Peak. That afternoon some of us skied the bowls and chutes of Matterhorn, and Reiner built a very credible igloo. Next morning conditions remained icy and we left late for the pass southeast of Matterhorn. Next there was a good ski down into the valley south of the pass.

Three of us climbed Virginia Peak and the others toured the valley. Returning to camp we encountered very hard, icy snow which made the steeper, higher areas quite challenging. By the time we reached camp we were in fog and it had started snowing. We awoke to 4-6 inches of new snow, the fog was still with us, and one of our group had a swollen knee, so we decided to pack out.

On the way home we noticed the Lee Vining road was closed 4 miles from the junction with 395, although it was open to Tioga Pass on Saturday morning, which made us wonder if we had gone to the Saddlebag area whether we would have been snow bound.

A good trip, enjoyed by all but a poor substitute for the high route under good snow conditions.

G. W. J.

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