Ski Mountaineering

Kratka Ridge to Mt. Waterman "the crust tour"
March 6, 2004

Randy Lamm

Another drought snow year locally, but a recent spring storm dropped a couple feet of snow enough to allow this tour. The early indian summer weather made the conditions interesting. The participants included David "Corinthian Leather" Baron, Don Ralphs, Jim Valensi, Mike Rector, myself as lead, and Tom Marsh co-leader. We all rendezvoused at the La Canada meeting point at the bottom of the 2 for our carpool. An indication of the day's conditions, at 8 am it was about 65 degrees. We grouped into two cars, the skis, packs and Mike and Tom, in Tom's truck, while the rest of us luxuriated in the Corinthian Leather seats of David's Jaguar. As Hank Jr. played on the radio we headed up the Angeles Crest and parked at the Kratka Ridge parking lot. Since the base area at Kratka burned down a few years ago (probably an insurance collection scam), its now the unofficial Southern California Region SMS training center. On the 700' ascent to the top of Kratka ridge the firm corn snow was misleading. At the top we headed west, traversing the crest into the day long all you can eat serving of breakable crust on top of 12" of rotten depth hoar. After an hour of hop turns and face plants we made our way around the manzanita bushes and wound up at a drainage almost at the highway and ran into a family playing in the snow.

In this area the snow was melting and it was difficult to find continuous patches of snow to ski on. We then ascended up the other side past what looked like old rusty lift towers, and remnants of what looked like an old lift shack. The snow got more continuous. We reached the top of the ridge and came to the top of the rope tows for the Buck Horn Ski Area. We ducked under the running rope tows and continued across the ridgeline to our lunch stop, which had views south into the haze of el stinko. After lunch we started the final climb up to the Mt. Waterman Plateau. We skied across the top of the plateau to the top of the waterman ski area, which was closed. Our treacherous descent included the runs on the "easy" top lift and then we continued on the area access road. Traversing over to the north slopes we attempted skiing down the steep face area. In the shadows the breakable crust was even more breakable. After many hop and hope and fanagled telemark turns we finally reached the highway. While the rest of the group shivered in the shadows of waterman, Tom hitched up the road to get the cars. As we headed down the 2 into the sunset we concluded that the challenging local snow conditions are often the price we pay for so. cal skiing. Thanks to all for participating.

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