Thursday, April 16, 2009

16April09 - Relay Peak - North Lake Tahoe

(Click on any image to enlarge it)


Dallas Glass, a ski patroller from Mt. Rose, and avalanche forecaster has agreed to lead us today in the mountains north of the Mt. Rose Highway (Rt. 267). This is his stomping ground and he is exited about showing off the great terrain here on the NE side of Lake Tahoe. For almost the entire tour there are commanding views of Lake Tahoe and the eastern side mountains. The groups start up from Tahoe Meadows on the Mt. Rose Highway (Rt. 267). From left to right David G., David S., Tim F., Jeff K., and Dallas (elevator) Glass.

Relay Peak south summit from just above Tahoe Meadows. "This is where we are going" Dallas explains, and before I put my hands on my poles to begin, he is gone, rocketing up the mountainside - thus he is aptly nick-named from this point on as "The Elevator". We are sking higher than we are accustomed to and will top out at around 10,000 feet on the summit ridge.

Warm meadow snow sticks to our skins. We scrape off the snow and ice and apply "gobstopper" skin wax to preclude similar build-up later in the day. Even so, Dave S. manages to break a pole attempting to knock off the heavy accumulation. Jeff and he jury rig the pole by cramming a stick in the handle and top tube which lasts for the remainder of the day's tour.

We pick a protected ridge and begin the steeper climbing to the summit ridge. Even though Dallas skis a line straight up the ridge, the rest of us mortals make occasional kick turns to lesson the pitch. Here, Tim executes a "french" kick-turn, uphill leg first while mid-conversation with David - or is this mid-mountain yoga?


Dallas on the ridge as we ascend to 10,000 feet. The north summit of Relay peak is in the background. Relay peak is so named because of the large television relay station on the north summit which was used to bounce the 1968 Squaw Valley Olympics out of the Tahoe Basin and on to the rest of the world watching beyond.


David Stepner on the summit ridge - Washoe Valley in the distance.


Dallas heads south on the ridge looking for the best line down the west slope . Lake Tahoe and Heavenly Ski resort far off in the distance.


We go down now.. wonderful spring snow - long pitch - great views. Dave getting the rythm of brand new skiis on their first downhill run.

Jeff powers through one of many perfectly executed tele turns.


and there he goes... Wait for me!

Dallas follows Jeff. Using the small crumholtz (tree tops protruding through the snow surface) as turning marks he is looking downhil and spying his next turn.

The snow softens and deepens in the small gully into which we decend.

Tim launches off the summit.

Dave S.

Whoah, checking speed before the next turn, the surface here is thinner and the skis speed up with each turn down the fall line.

Ah, some deeper snow, or not. One more turn and then a dull thud and groan (not captured on film) as Dallas colides with a crumholtz. For a secod there all we see are the bottom of his skiis facing up hill - with no movement. This is not a good sign. "Dallas, are you okay" we all yell down - almost in harmony from all corners of the slope. A groan - " I'm not realy sure" muffled by tree branches we hear back. Dave S. is closest and activates his ski patrol persona approaching the scene. Dallas has untangled himself from the tree and his bindings and is inspecting the point of impact on his shin, just below the knee. Ouch, but just a bad bruise. A bit higher and the impact would have been with Dallas's bomber hard plastic knee pads, a bit lower, and possibly a tib/fib break. We are lucky this time.

We continue the ski down, into the meadow below and flatter terrain. Skins on, we begin the slog back up for more fun.

Now the soft snow is too steep to skin up - the thin layer of fresh snow does not adhere to the firm icy layer beneath and our attempts to traverse and skin up are foiled by repeated slides away from our intended objective. We chose to strap skis to packs, and boot pack straight up, our boot toes more firmly kicking into the mountainside.

We follow a route in the shadows of a tree line so the snow is not so soft, and we are shielded from the scorching mid-day sun.

We crest the ridge, then drop in on the southeast face for some more skiing. The snow becomes very slushy as the slope flattens. We begin the long downward traverse back to the meadow below.



Dave is bored skiing on two skis so he tries it on one during this daring maneuver.

Looking back up the south east face - if you enlarge this photo you'll see our tracks - both down and up.

Again, a wonderful slope transected by our joyful down tracks - this is the east facing slope we skied second on our way back to the car.


The Google earth approximate route

3 comments:

oscar said...

who, just by reading and looking at your photos got me pumped out, Lake Tahoe really is a magnificent place, by the way you might also be interested with this news, Alpine Meadows has some killer deals on next years season passes and we are just trying to get the word out to everyone to take advantage of it before it expires on May 31st. Season passes start from just $299, check it out if you are interested. Though this is a bit shameless, you have to admit that the pricing is pretty good.

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