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A Lil Something New: Touring San Joaquin Ridge

Discussion about winter adventure sports in the Sierra Nevada mountains including but not limited to; winter backpacking and camping, mountaineering, downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, etc.
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A Lil Something New: Touring San Joaquin Ridge

Postby MooseTracks » Tue Jan 26, 2010 7:31 pm


It wasn't as quiet as I thought it might be. Trees blasted with rime and snow stood sentinel along the ridge, their hollows carved deep and sharp by the winds of the storm. The powder surface was etched and lined with hoar as the air fell still and chilled in the aftermath. The swish of skis against the powder, the creak of poles touching support on either side, we three stepped knee-deep through the forest north of the Vista.

I hung back to snap photos, to get a sense of the surroundings. The trench lay ahead, the guys talking lightly and laughing, their voices muffled between the work of breaking trail and the soft surroundings. Behind and above, we heard the sunken pops of avalanche charges as The Mountain tried to protect the hoards from themselves. The breeze whistled through the frozen branches and icicles, the sun valiantly trying to stave off encroaching clouds.

Trudging ever onward and upward, we all leaned into the snow in our efforts to gain the ridge. I fiddled with my bindings, trying to shift the heel rise myself after Brent had popped it down for me to start. I kept lifting the whole ski up to step forward, taking a snowshoe stride where a glide would suffice. Brian and Brent coached from front and back: we talked of shortening steps, keeping the ski in contact with the snow, a heel tap at the start of the step to pack the snow before weighting it. My brain soaked in the information, my body started to feel the rhythm of this new activity. All the while, the sun and light shifted and swayed, clouds filling and passing the background, trees lost in shadows and mist.

We paused for a few breaks, stomping platforms and digging footholes, only to still attempt a Class 5 move to get back into bindings and on top of the skis. Above Deadman Pass, the clouds finally socked in, barring any further views of the ridge or cliffs on either side. We dug a pit for educational purposes, stopping at around 5' and noting the uniformity, at least on a superficial scale. The terrain was too shallow to cause problems during our descent. In fact, we donned skins once again for a few of the rollers before the vista. The road had been groomed in our absence, which helped us gain a small amount of speed as we descended to the crowds and home.

A few pics from the day:

My twin smurfs (Brent and Brian)...

This tree is probably 10 feet tall...




Rest of the pics are here.

A few weeks ago, a group of friends met outside Vegas to tackle the East Face of Charleston Peak. An amazing day with great people (and the climbing in Red Rocks on Sunday tweren't so bad, neither!). Pics are here.

From the luckiest girl in the world: Climb Hard, Be Safe.

-L :cool:
"Why do I climb? Quite simply because the mountains and I had to meet." - Colette Richard


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Re: A Lil Something New: Touring San Joaquin Ridge

Postby copeg » Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:41 pm

A fantastic read with some great pics! :thumbsup:
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