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ski touring in June

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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ski touring in June

Postby pawelrc » Tue Apr 19, 2011 8:40 am

Hi Everyone,

I'm new to this forum and actually new to the USA, so first just saying hi. I'm studying here in the USA. My wife and I are ski tour enthusiasts (learned in the Alps). Could someone please tell us if it is still possible to do ski tours in first half of June? We have vacation June 5-12 and would love to ski tour in High Sierra. Any tips regarding if touring is still possible so late in season and possible locations for tours (snow in June, not a full day of walking to get to the snow) would be appreciated. We'd like to do a 3-4 day tour.

(btw, I purchase some guide books but it seems there is conflicting information about whether June still offers possibilities for nice tours)

Thanks!
Pawel



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Re: ski touring in June

Postby oldranger » Tue Apr 19, 2011 9:07 am

Pawelrc

Welcome aboard!

I have skied twice in June, both in 1983, a huge snow year. In early June that year I skied from the west end of Big Meadow to my ranger station at Rowell Meadow (no longer used by NPS). Never had to take my skis off. Later in June I went from Wolverton to Rowell via Pear Lake and the Tablelands. Had to hike to either Heather or Emerald before I could ski. Then skied to Pear where I spent the night. Next day the from Pear to Crescent Lake near the head of Sugarloaf creek was pretty nice. From there the terrain and snow conditions were not conducive to skiing (this area is forested and there was a ton of needles and twigs on the snow and the tree wells extended way away from the trees. I spent that day postholing to just beyond the park boundary about a mile from Rowell. The rest of the way was stretches of trail mixed with 4 feet high snowbanks. There was still a large snowbank near the station to make frozen daiquiris! The gate across the road between Big Meadow and the Sunset meadow trailhead was not unlocked until after the 4th of July weekend.

So one westside ski I could recommend but may involve some hiking, too, would be the Tablelands. I know there will also be even more opportunities on the eastside that more knowledgible people will suggest. Also at some point the formation of suncups can spoil the skiing.


Mike
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Re: ski touring in June

Postby markskor » Tue Apr 19, 2011 10:38 am

Hate getting pine needles stuck in my Klister...(little X-country ski humor).
Thanks for the memories though, Mike.

Depending on how the spring shapes out, there could be great spring touring this year up at Saddlebag.
Park the car on 120 (TPR) right after Tioga opening, sometime mid June, ski in (~2 1/2 miles) to the dam, lots of dry camping areas...nice bowls back there too, and even good fishing.

Mammoth Lakes backside - Twin Lakes up to the Red Cones...those lakes are lightning fast and tracks are set part way.
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Re: ski touring in June

Postby maverick » Tue Apr 19, 2011 1:07 pm

Hello Pawelrc

Welcome to HST!
Try this: http://backcountryskitours.com/
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: ski touring in June

Postby copeg » Tue Apr 19, 2011 7:18 pm

What sorts of terrain are you looking for, and what skill level? June is one of the many erratic months in the Sierra, a bit late for touring in general but good snow years (such as this one) can extend the season. And even with an extended season other factors come into play, such as limited times during the day in which skiing is decent (icy in morning and slushy in afternoon) and slopes covered with nasty sun-cups. If you are looking for just descents rather than touring, there are some that might be decent (and descent :) ) around that time (think north facing, and see John Moynier's 'Background Skiing California's High Sierra')
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Re: ski touring in June

Postby pawelrc » Wed Apr 20, 2011 6:23 am

Hey, thanks to all for sharing your tips! I appreciate it very much :)

To respond to Copeg's question: we are looking more for touring than descending. Our "ideal" itinerary would be a 2-3 day loop or there-and back tour where we could spend an extra day skiing in the vicinty of our bivy site (wide bowls, ascend some peak, leave gear at bivy site). It'll be our first time in the High Sierra and ever since I was a kid I wanted to visit this range so ideally some place that will let us glimpse "the best of" the range. As for difficulty: I ski pretty well and just about anything. My wife is more intermediate (by this I mean: she has good stamina and can ski steep but as long as it isn't too narrow or doesn't have death cliff's below you if you fall). So an intermediate type tour but where that day spent around camp would offer the possibility of ascending and skiing some more difficult line would be awesome. But it really doesn't matter how extreme we go. Just to be out in the mountains and not having to carry the skiis on our backs for too long an approach. Any suggestions?

What about the Mt. Whitney area? We'll be driving in from Las Vegas so that seems closest.

Thanks again for all your responses!
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Re: ski touring in June

Postby paul » Thu Apr 21, 2011 5:36 pm

By June 5 you might be able to drive up to Horseshoe Meadows - south of whitney. If you can drive there, that could be a great spot to start from. The area around Cottonwood lakes has several bowls that might still be in shape as they face east.
The immediate Whitney area is not so great for touring but has some good serious peak descents.
Another idea is to drive up to Bishop, then up highway 168 to North Lake - the road will probably be open by then - and go over Piute Pass into Humphreys Basin. I expect you'd have to walk a couple miles before you could ski - probably you'd be able to ski somewhere around Loch Leven - and then once you get to the pass there are many possibilities - the basin is huge.
Then you could alos drive a little further to Tioga Pass - the pass probably won't be open all the way but it will likely be open most of the way up the east side, and there are many places to go from there.

The big question will not be is there still snow but is it so funky - suncups, runnels - that it's no fun to ski. No way to predict that at his point. I'm planning a long tour myself for the end of may and I am hoping for the snow to still be in shape.
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Re: ski touring in June

Postby John Dittli » Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:42 pm

Somewhere in here (I think?) there is a post to a ski tour I did last June 21-23 out of Rock Creek along the crest of the Mono Divide. Much less snow than this year but still quite good.
The issues with skiing in June can be suncups, penitente's and dry south aspects, particularly at lower elevations.
Plan for a high elevation trip, it could be fantastic this year.

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Re: ski touring in June

Postby fullers2oh » Tue May 10, 2011 11:37 am

welcome to the us and the amazing sierra. hopefully by now you have some idea of the terrain that is available to you! as i write this in mid may it seems that although we do have periods of warmth there seems to be some cool spots mixed in, which i think is helping the high elevation snowpack hold on for longer than normal, but will have to see as the season plays out how warm it gets. the time of year you are planning could be great this year. we have a very large snowpack up high, so as long as your touring plans include high elevations and avoid (as mentioned) south and west facing slopes if possible, you could have great conditions for your tour.

you got some great touring suggestions from previous folks. based on your last post where you give more info for the type of tour you are looking for, i think you should head farther north as the snow will be better up there and also easier accessed, somewhere around bishop, rock creek, mammoth, or june. there are tons of spots in all those areas that fit the profile you are looking for. anywhere in the sierra you choose to go will be ""the best of" the range" :D

if you have not heard of the guidebooks there are three good ones for ski tours and descents:
http://www.amazon.com/Classic-Backcount ... 0898866561
then also be sure to check out dudes website as he has some great info there as well!
http://pweb.jps.net/~prichins/50class.htm

http://www.amazon.com/Backcountry-Skiin ... 0979264464

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/156044 ... 7FKBY5Z1ME

there are actually a lot of good webcams also to check out the mtns on the eastside.

happy hunting and let us know how it turns out!
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Re: ski touring in June

Postby maverick » Tue May 10, 2011 1:49 pm

Hello Fullers2oh, welcome to HST!
Thank you for your input on this subject, hope to hear from you again.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: ski touring in June

Postby John Dittli » Sun May 15, 2011 7:27 pm

Well, I just got back from a ten day tour. Let's just say there shouldn't be any problem skiing in June.
_MG_7182.jpg


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Re: ski touring in June

Postby paul » Sat May 28, 2011 9:47 am

No doubt about it, there will be some good touring in June. I just got back from a 9-day tour ( Dinkey lakes, Red Rock Basin, Red Mtn. Basin, LeConte Divide, Goddard Canyon, Davis Lake, Evolution Basin, Lamarck Col) and the coverage is massive and the conditions still good.
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