Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Devil's Peak Tour with Diane

Approaching Devil's Peak from the Wagonwheel trail. The north gully is far too steep to climb, and there is a large cornice threatening that route up to the summit as well. We follow the trail to the west to scout that aspect for a better approach. The north east snow fields are best accessed from the Klondike Lil's trail - This is not groomed, but the snow is consolidated and there is evidence of snowmobilers on that side of the peak.
From devils peak with Diane

I leave Diane at the warming hut and make the 30 minute climb up the west aspect to the ridge where the snow meets the rock. The panorama looks out over all of Royal Gorge to the east and north with Broad Peak, Castle Peak, Lincoln, Anderson, and Tinker's Knob on the skyline. From here I followed the rock band looking for access to the summit. Before I reached the best chute up to the top, I felt the need to go down, as the snow was warming, and the surface was turning to perfect corn. Getting skins off while perched on a steep slope with no platform was a real trick. Within 15 minutes I was back down at the warming hut.
From devils peak with Diane

Together again, and well fed from lunch we ski downhill and away from the peak. This tour definitely deserves to be repeated with a few laps up to the steep snow fields during mid day to harvest the copious corn.
From devils peak with Diane

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Hourglass Ski Tour - Mt. Rose

Map of tour...

On the summit...

(Click on the play button in center of image to view slide show...)

Brief Video of the main run down...

Google Earth animation of tour...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tortilla Souffle - A Hearty Hit!!

This somewhat spicy casserole feeds 4 and packs a punch. Best eaten after a full day of skiing.

(3) poblemo peppers
1/2 lb. Monterey jack cheese - grated
1/2 lb. Cheddar cheese - grated
6 eggs
3 sun dried tomato tortillas
3 T mild salsa
1 can corn

Go skiing all day - work up an appetite
Get home, turn on the broiler
rinse off the peppers, spray or lightly coat peppers with olive oil
place peppers under broiler on baking sheet close to the flame
watch peppers carefully and turn about every 5 minutes until all surfaces are dark brown and bubbly
This takes about 15 minutes total
Once you take the peppers out of the oven, IMMEDIATELY place them in a air tight sealed dish (or a bowl sealed with plastic wrap) so they can steam from the inside out as they cool.

Turn the oven down to 350 F when the peppers are out and adjust the trays to make room for the casserole dish and puffy filling.

As the peppers are cooking, grate the cheese

Then separate the eggs with whites in one larger bowl and yellows in a smaller bowl
Beat the eggs whites until stiff

Open and rinse the canned or frozen (and thawed) corn

Cut the tortillas into 1/2 " strips. Set aside.

Now, the peppers are cool enough to handle.

Remove the peppers one at a time from the sealed container and easily peel away most (if not all ) of the charred and paper thin outer skin. No need to remove ALL the skin, just make a good faith effort to get most of it. Slit the peppers open carefully and remove ALL the seeds from the inside and the stem from the top. Now you have a flattened cooked pepper. Repeat process for the 2 remaining peppers.

Carefully fold the beaten egg yellows into the egg whites with as few strokes as possible.

Find and prepare a 9" round souffle casserole dish with a spray or wipe of olive oil on the bottom and the sides.

Now, layer in one flattened pepper, 1/3 of the corn, 1/3 of the grated cheese, and 1 evenly distributed T of salsa. Place 1/3 of the tortilla strips across the filling leaving spaces between each strip. Cover the tortilla strips with a little less than 1/3 of the beaten eggs.

Continue to layer ingredients in this fashion (rotating the alignment of the tortilla strips) until the last layer is covered with the reamaining beaten eggs. The last covering of eggs should be slightly more than 1/3 of the total.

Put dish uncovered in the preheated oven and cook for 45 minutes. Adjust coking time for elevation.

Serve with cornbread, a hearty green salad, and follow with a crisp sorbet for desert.

Serves 4.

Crow's Nest to Mt Rowton with Jim Kaspari

(Click on the button in the middle of this picture to view slide show...)

A 15 minute hike from the top of the Disney Lift at Sugarbowl leaves us on the summit of Crow's Nest Peak, with a view of the peaks to the south and the majestic royal gorge of the American River. The volcanic spires emerge all along the ridge from here south reminding me of stoic sentinels watching over us as we follow the ridge and the powdery snow to the west. This brief hike takes us from the hubbub of the resort to the quiet and peaceful sidecountry between Sugarbowl and Royal Gorge. Once past the quick turn-offs others have taken to return to the in-bounds skiing we are breaking trail along with the coyotes along the ridge. Large windrows formed along the ridge by the recent storm gusts keep us on our toes in this flat light as we loose altitude along the ridge on our way west. There are a handful of amazing stunted 6' diameter juniper trees dotting the ridge. We pass by greeting them as the true mountaineers. The wind has died almost entirely and it is quiet up here on the ridge. We march slowly, trying the read the snow signs for a story of underlying features, gale, sunshine, forest animal forays, fresh precipitation and cold nights. Occasional tracks cross our path, and at the low point on the ridge, a coyote has used the ski trail groomed by others to make easy passage over the mountain. I wonder why he has traveled up this high and can only imagine that he likes the view as much as we do. Skins are ripped of at the summit of Mt. Rowton (Lola's Lookout), and we float downhill all the way to Ice Lakes Lodge through the light north powder. In under 2 hours we have completed the whole traverse from the base of the Disney lift to the parking lot pick-up by our dedicated shuttle driver, Diane.

From 10Feb10 RoyalGorge Side Country

Monday, February 8, 2010

Maggie's Saddle with Jeff and Karen

(Click on the play button at the center of the image to view slide show...)

Jeff and Karen invited me to join them for a tour up to Maggie's on the southwest shore of Lake Tahoe. Karen was just trying out new Alpine Touring equipment (Dynafit bindings) for the first time and came away with a brilliant review. She's sold on the light weight of the system and the ease with which she was able to climb.

Even though there was evidence of previous skiers since the last storm cycle, there as PLENTY of fresh snow to be had on the drop from the saddle to Granite Lake. Where the aspect was just right, the powder was light, and fluffy with a solid base beneath from which to launch high power turns.

Karen made a remarkable leap over a rock which she discovered was exposed only after skiing over the snow pillow which obscured it from above. In response to the "Are you okay" questions when she dropped over the lip, she responded "I'm not sure" as she slowly slid into the cavity on the downhill side of the boulder. Making equal efforts to extract herself and sliding motions into the bottomless abyss in the rock's shadow I watched as she tried to escape her entrapment. By the time I had skied down to reach in to pull her out, she was safely over the "eddy fence" downhill of the obstacle and was ready for more downhill adventures.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Crow's Nest Ski with Caspar

(Click on play button on center of screen to view slide show...)

The clouds cleared away and have left 4-6" of fresh snow on the ground. On the north sides of the ridges, where the wind has been blowing there are big cornices and much deeper deposits of snow. We follow the open ridge line between Soda Springs and Crows Nest Peak and get fabulous views of the Van Norden Meadow, Castle Peak to the North, and the Royal Gorge backcountry to the south. For a bit we follow a coyote's trail who was also headed up to the top of Crow's Nest. The run down from Crow's Nest was epic, but a bit heavy and we ran all the way to the bottom of the intended alignment for the eventual lift that will be placed to the peak. Until then, we have the entire bottom half of the run to ourselves as most skiers from the lift served area veer skiers right much higher to avoid a long slog back into bounds at the end of the run. Tele- skiers rule!!! (ah..Caspar actually trotted the whole way down in snow shoes - fit snowshoers ALSO rock!)

(Caspar captured this video while fending off snow covered trees on each side of the trail...)

(A panorama view from Caspar's camera...)

Lost Trail Lodge Feb 2010

(Click on image to trigger slide show..)

Diane, David, Steve, Diane, Theo, and Tricia embark on a mid-week adventure to the ski-in Lost Trail Lodge. 4 miles in from the car, and 350 feet of elevation gain along a sled packed trail following Cold Stream Canyon to just short of the Sierra Crest - the tour is well suited to an easy 1/2 day set of expectations. Once at the lodge we are welcomed by a warm, cozy retreat in the woods. A crackling fire heats the main rooms and the lodge is more like a museum of rustic country living than a prim and proper bed and breakfast. Acoustic musical instruments abound available for guest's use. We use this welcoming facility as our base of operations for a few days of ski touring. Although it kept snowing pretty much the whole time we were on this outing, the weather did not prevent us from having great ski touring and a good time. The ample kitchen is well appointed and we cooked some great meals every evening.

Click on this link to learn more about the lodge. Lost Trail Lodge