Ski Mountaineering

Rock Creek - Mosquito Flats Yurt
Skiing the Dade Couloir
Mar 16-17, 1996

Leaders: Reiner Stenzel, Owen Maloy

Rock Creek has it all : good access, beautiful scenery, plenty of snow, terrain for all skiing abilities, and a cozy hut for a basecamp. That is why we went back in March after our earlier trip in February. We had an interesting group of nine skiers, four from the Bay area, Tom McNicholas, Burt Rodgers, Peter Purgalis, Mike Udkow, and four from the SMS, Owen Maloy, Susan Loftus, Ken Kerner, Duncan Livingston, and myself. On Sat 7 AM we met at the road end (East Fork, CA Sno-Park), and skied up the snow-covered road toward Rock Creek Lodge. After a short stop-over we continued at an individual pace to Mosquito Flats (10,200') where we settled down in the yurt and in some tents. There was far more snow than a month earlier and the yurt was covered to the top of its roof (>6'). In the afternoon we toured Little Lakes Valley, forming groups with different ambitions. Some went to Treasure Lakes to ski the chute down to Long Lake, others enjoyed the scenic trail along and over the lakes. Sat evening we fired up the wood stove and cooked our dinners in the small but cozy yurt while the outside temperatures plummeted. The night was probably more peaceful for the snowcampers since in the yurt the snoring nearly shattered glass dishes.

On Sunday morning it was time again for skiing. Since there was powder snow near Treasure Lks I had the ambition to ski Dade Couloir. Luckily, Duncan was willing to rise at 6 am. The Oaklanders prepared for their four-day snowcamp near Long Lake, Owen and Susan had to ski out before noon. Beyond the Treasure Lks there is a long chute leading up to a plateau from which one climbs Mt. Dade. This 1,000' chute was filled with soft snow such that its 30-40 degree angle was not too intimidating. We switch-backed up in the middle of the chute since there was random rock and snow fall from the steep gullies on its sides.

After reaching the top (12,680') we enjoyed the spectacular view of the valley, then tightened the boots, took a deep breath, and plunged down into the chute. Turn after turn we carved two meandering tele tracks into the chute. It was an exhilarating but exhausting fun which needed occasional breaks. Above Long Lake we met our friends from Oakland, and an hour later we were at the yurt and skied out together with Ken. The snow on the road was excellent and it took only 35 min from Mosquito Flats to the cars. It was another fine weekend of backcountry skiing.

Reiner Stenzel

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